Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) recently participated in the training opportunity of a lifetime with their Nepali Army partners.
Throughout September and October, two Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 1st SFG (A) trained in some of the world’s most severely restricted terrain at the Nepali Army’s High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School (HAMWS).
For the past 30 years, the HAMWS has traditionally hosted approximately 16 foreign students from 23 participating countries. However, in the face of heightened travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, only four students from the U.S., Pakistan, and Bangladesh accepted this year’s training opportunity.
The HAMWS training program centers around the tactics and techniques used by military elements to traverse, survive, and conduct offensive operations in high altitude areas and mountainous terrain. Throughout history, Green Berets have contended with the rough terrain that creates natural borders between people groups and provides a safe haven for guerrilla forces. Recent border skirmishes between India and China demonstrate the strategic importance of these areas. As great power competitors test historical borders, the ability to incur costs on forces encroaching through high altitude and mountainous regions remains a principal capability in the defense of sovereignty.
The six-week program of instruction consisted of extensive training on ascending and descending techniques, survival and rescue techniques, the use of special equipment, and tactics of the cliff assault in both rock and alpine areas.
For the culminating exercise, the students used the previously trained techniques and equipment to scale Thorang Peak, a 20,200 ft. mountain.
The course curriculum contained many acclimatization exercises and excursions that took students to some of the most remarkable terrain in the world. This included Lake Tilicho, the world’s highest lake (16,138’), and Thorang La, the world’s highest mountain pass at 17,769 ft.
The Nepali Army’s planning, commitment to readiness, and unwavering invitation for partnership enabled this training opportunity.
With instruction from the Nepalese training cadre, two of the participating Green Berets will return not only with freshly honed mountain warfare skills but also having secured three of the four HAMWS performance recognition awards.
“The training provided by the Nepali Army’s HAMWS was truly world-class, said a detachment commander with 1st SFG (A). “Marrying a deep expertise in mountain warfare tactics and mountaineering techniques with breathtaking terrain, the program succeeded in not only sharpening our capabilities but in forging strong bonds between new friends,” the detachment commander added.
1st SFG (A) remains committed to readiness for conflict, relentless pursuit of excellence, and engaging with partners across the theater wherever opportunity exists, no matter the obstacles.