The Slovenia Times

Mountain warfare Slovenia's major contribution to NATO know-how

A soldier of the 132nd Mountain Battalion climbing a steep rock as part of regular training. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Slovenia has often been criticised for not spending enough on defence, but there is broad agreement that it pulls its weight when it comes to training. One of the two main training centres, apart from the Centre for the Training of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, is the NATO Mountain Warfare Centre of Excellence.

The Mountain Warfare Centre, located in Poljče in northwest of the country, was accredited by NATO in 2015. It has since become the alliance's main institution for mountain warfare standards and their harmonisation across the member states.

The centre's goal is to improve shared capabilities with an emphasis on the development of doctrine, joint exercises, and execution of training programmes.

The centre told the Slovenian Press Agency that they have developed a comprehensive concept of mountain warfare, issued several tactical publications, and developed specialised equipment such as foldable skis, which are produced by the sports equipment maker Elan, which is based in nearby Begunje.

Allied forces get to know the skis while training at the centre and 17 countries have bought them for their troops so far.

Elan's foldable skis at the first international Mountain Warfare Congress in Poljče in 2018. Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Since its inception, the Poljče centre has trained more than 300 service members from 21 countries, mostly officers who make decisions and plan operations.

In recent years the centre has focused on developing mountain warfare in the context of multi-domain operations. It operates outside the alliance's command structure and is not directly a part of the Slovenian Armed Forces.

The other major training facility is the Centre for the Training of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, which operates out of the Cerklje ob Krki airbase in southeast Slovenia.

The JTAC centre was founded in 2015 and received NATO certification a year later. The Defence Ministry says it is one of a few accredited programmes that comply with standards in this field.

The school offers courses twice a year for JTAC personnel from Central Europe and the Western Balkans. At the last exercise in February, US F-16 fighter jets took part as well.

The Cerklje ob Krki air base. Photo: Rasto Božič/STA

More from Politics