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The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Drummarker, New Yorkmarker. It is a subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the only division-sized element of the US Army to specialize in fighting under harsh terrain and weather conditions. The division retains the "mountain" designation for historical purposes but is actually organized as a light infantry division.

Activated in 1943, the 10th Mountain Division was the last among currently active divisions to enter combat during World War II. (According to "World War II Order of Battle" by Shelby L. Stanton, the 10th Mountain Division entered combat on January 8, 1945, followed by the 8th, 13th, 16th, and 20th Armored, and the 65th, 71st, 76th, 86th, 89th and 97th Infantry divisions in the final months of the war.) The 10th fought in the mountains of Italymarker in some of the roughest terrain in the country. After the war, the division was briefly redesignated as the 10th Infantry Division, a training unit, also seeing brief deployment to Germanymarker before deactivation.

Reactivated in 1985, the division saw numerous deployments to contengencies throughout the 1990s. Division elements participated in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Uphold Democracy, Task Force Eagle, and Hurricane Andrew disaster relief. Since 2001, the division and its four combat brigades have seen numerous deployments to both Iraqmarker and Afghanistanmarker in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.



Though there was a 10th Infantry Division active in the US Army during World War I, that division was redesignated the Panama Canal Division after the war, and it shares no connection with the 10th Mountain Division activated during World War II.

In November 1939, during the Soviet Unionmarker's invasion of Finlandmarker, Russian efforts were frustrated following the destruction of two armored divisions by Finnish soldiers on skis. Upon seeing the effectiveness of these troops, Charles Minot Dole, the president of the National Ski Patrol, began to lobby the War Department of the need for a similar unit of troops in the United States Army, trained for fighting in winter and mountain warfare.

In September 1940, Dole was able to present his case to General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, who agreed with Dole's assessment, deciding to create a "Mountain" unit for fighting in harsh terrain. On December 8, 1941, the Army activated its first mountain unit, the 87th Mountain Infantry Battalion (later the 87th Infantry Regiment) at Fort Lewis, Washingtonmarker. The 87th trained in harsh conditions, including Mount Rainiermarker’s 14,408 foot peak. The National Ski Patrol took on the unique role of recruiting for the 87th Infantry Regiment and later the Division. After returning from the Kiska Campaign in the Aleutian Islandsmarker near Alaskamarker, Army commanders decided to expand the concept of mountain warfare for an entire division. The 87th would form the core of this new division.

World War II

The 10th Light Division (Alpine) was constituted on July 10, 1943 and activated two days later at Camp Hale, Coloradomarker. The division was centered around regimental commands; the 85th Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Regiment, and 87th Infantry Regiment. Also assigned to the division were the 604th, 605th, and 616th Field Artillery battalions, the 110th Signal Company, the 710th Ordnance Company, the 10th Quartermaster Company, the 10th Reconnaissance Troop, the 126th Engineer Battalion, the 10th Medical Battalion, and the 10th Counter-Intelligence Detachment. The 10th Light Division was unique in that it was the only division in the Army with three field artillery battalions instead of four.

The division trained for one year at the 9,200 foot high Camp Hale. Soldiers trained to fight and survive under the most brutal mountain conditions, fighting with skis and snow shoes and sleeping in the snow without tents. On June 22, 1944, the division was shipped to Camp Swift, Texasmarker to prepare for maneuvers in Louisianamarker, which were later canceled. A period of acclimation to a low altitude and hot climate was necessary to prepare for this training. On November 6, 1944, the 10th Division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division. That same month the blue and white "Mountain" tab was authorized for the division's new shoulder sleeve insignia.


The division sailed for Italymarker in late 1944, arriving in Italymarker on January 6, 1945. It was the last US Army Division to enter combat in World War II. It immediately entered combat near Cutiglianomarker and Orsignamarker. Preliminary defensive actions were followed on February 19, 1945 by Battle of Monte Castello in conjunction with troops of a Brazilian Expeditionary Force.

Soldiers from the division provide cover for an assault squad in northern Italy.

The unit made concerted attacks on the Monte Della Torraccia-Mount Belvedere sector and the peaks were cleared after several days of heavy fighting. In early March the division fought its way north of Canolle and moving to within of Bolognamarker. Maintaining defensive positions for the next three weeks, the division jumped off again in April, captured Mongiorgiomarker on April 20, and entered the Po Valleymarker, seizing the strategic points Pradalbino and Bomportomarker. The 10th crossed the Po Rivermarker on April 23, reaching Veronamarker April 25, and ran into heavy opposition at Torbole and Nagomarker. After an amphibious crossing of Lake Gardamarker, it secured Gargnanomarker and Porto di Tremosinemarker, April 30, as German resistance in Italy ended. After the German surrender in Italy on May 2, 1945, the division went on security duty, receiving the surrender of various German units and screening the areas of occupation near Triestemarker, Kobaridmarker, Bovecmarker and Log pod Mangartommarker, Sloveniamarker until V-E Day, the end of the war in Europe.
The division advancing in Italy in April 1945.


Originally, the division was to be sent to the Pacific theater to take part in Operation Downfall, the invasion of mainland Japanmarker. However, Japan surrendered in August 1945 following the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The division returned to the US two days later. It was demobilized and deactivated on November 30, 1945 at Camp Carson, Colorado. During World War II, the 10th Mountain Division suffered 992 killed in action and 4,154 wounded in action in 114 days of combat. Soldiers of the division were awarded one Medal of Honor (John D. Magrath), three Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 449 Silver Star Medals, seven Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier's Medals, and 7,729 Bronze Star Medals. The division itself was awarded two campaign streamers.

Cold War

In June 1948, the division was rebuilt and activated at Fort Rileymarker, Kansasmarker to serve as a training division. Without its "Mountain" tab, the division served as the 10th Infantry Division for the next ten years. The division was charged with processing and training replacements in large numbers. This mission was expanded with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. By 1953, the division had trained 123,000 new Army recruits at Fort Riley.

In 1954, the division was converted to a combat division once again, though it did not regain its "Mountain" status. Using equipment from the deactivating 37th Infantry Division, the 10th Infantry Division was deployed to Germanymarker, replacing the 1st Infantry Division at Wurzburgmarker, serving as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker defensive force. The division served in Germany for four years, until it was rotated out and replaced by the 3rd Infantry Division. The division moved to Fort Benning, Georgiamarker and was deactivated on June 14, 1958.


On February 13, 1985, the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was reactivated at Fort Drum, New York. In accordance with the Reorganization Objective Army Divisions plan, the division was no longer centered around regiments, instead two brigades were activated under the division. The 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division was activated at Fort Drum while the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division was activated at Fort Benning, moving to Fort Drum in 1988. The division was also assigned a round-out brigade from the Army National Guard, the 27th Infantry Brigade. The division was specially designed as a light infantry division able to rapidly deploy. Equipment design was oriented toward reduced size and weight for reasons of both strategic and tactical mobility. The division also received a distinctive unit insignia.


In 1990, the division sent 1,200 soldiers to support Operation Desert Storm. The largest of these units was the 548th Supply and Services Battalion with almost 1,000 soldiers, which supported the 24th Infantry Division in Iraqmarker. Following a cease-fire in March 1991, the support soldiers began redeploying to Fort Drum through June of that year.

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division sweep a Somali village for weapons (1993).
Hurricane Andrew struck South Floridamarker on August 24, 1992, killing 13 people, leaving another 250,000 homeless and causing damages in excess of 20 billion dollars. On September 27, 1992, the 10th Mountain Division assumed responsibility for Hurricane Andrew disaster relief as Task Force Mountain. Division soldiers set up relief camps, distributed food, clothing, medical necessities and building supplies, as well as helping to rebuild homes and clear debris. The last of the 6,000 division soldiers to deployed to Florida returned home in October 1992.

Operation Restore Hope

On December 3, 1993, the division headquarters was designated as the headquarters for all Army Forces (ARFOR) of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) for Operation Restore Hope. Major General Steven L. Arnold, the division Commander, was named Army Forces commander. The 10th Mountain Division’s mission was to secure major cities and roads to provide safe passage of relief supplies to the Somali population suffering from the effects of the Somali Civil War.

Members of 1-87th Infantry, 10th Mtn.
Div with President George Bush, January 1993.

Due to 10th Mountain Division efforts, humanitarian agencies declared an end to the food emergency and factional fighting decreased. When Task Force Rangermarker and the SAR team were pinned down during a raid in what later became known as the Battle of Mogadishumarker, 10th Mountain units provided infantry for the UN quick reaction force sent to rescue them. The 10th had two soldiers killed in the fighting, which was the longest sustained firefight by regular US Army forces since the Vietnam War. The division began a gradual reduction of forces in Somalia in February 1994, until the last soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry returned to the United States in March, 1994. h

Operation Uphold Democracy

The division formed the nucleus of the Multinational Force Haiti (MNF Haiti) and Joint Task Force 190 (JTF 190) in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. More than 8,600 of the division's troops deployed during this operation. On September 19, 1994, the 1st Brigade conducted the Army’s first air assault from an aircraft carrier. This force consisted of 54 helicopters and almost 2,000 soldiers. They occupied the Port-au-Prince International Airportmarker. This was the largest Army air operation conducted from a carrier since the Doolittle Raid in World War II.

The division’s mission was to create a secure and stable environment so the government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide could be reestablished and democratic elections held. After this was accomplished, the 10th Mountain Division handed over control of the MNF-Haiti to the 25th Infantry Division on January 15, 1995. The Division redeployed the last of its soldiers who served in Haiti by January 31, 1995.

Task Force Eagle

In the fall of 1998, the division received notice that it would be serving as senior headquarters of Task Force Eagle, providing a peacekeeping force to support the ongoing operation within the Multi-National Division-North area of responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. Selected division units began deploying in late summer, approximately 3,000 division soldiers deployed. After successfully performing their mission in Bosnia, the division units conducted a Transfer of Authority, relinquishing their assignments to soldiers of the 49th Armored Division, Texas National Guard. By early summer 2000, all 10th Mountain Division soldiers had returned safely to Fort Drum.

War on Terrorism

Readiness controversy

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter carries soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division on a mission in Afghanistan.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, the readiness of the 10th Mountain Division became a political issue when George W. Bush asserted that the division was "not ready for duty." He attributed the division's low readiness to the frequent deployments throughout the 1990s without time in between for division elements to retrain and refit. A report from the US General Accounting Office in July 2000 also noted that although the entire 10th Mountain Division was not deployed to the contengencies at once, "deployment of key components--especially headquarters--makes these divisions unavailable for deployment elsewhere in case of a major war." conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation agreed with these sentiments, charging that the US military overall was not prepared for war due to post-Cold War drawdowns of the US Military. The Army responded that, though the 10th Mountain Division had been unprepared following its deployment as Task Force Eagle, that the unit was fully prepared for combat by late 2000 despite being undermanned. Still, the Army moved the 10th Mountain Division down on the deployment list, allowing it time to retrain and refit.

In 2002, columnist and highly decorated military veteran David Hackworth again criticized the 10th Mountain Division for being unprepared due to lack of training, low physical fitness, unprepared leadership and low morale. He said the division was no longer capable of mountain warfare.

Initial deployments

10th Mountain Soldier in the Afghan Highlands.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, elements of the division, including its special troops battalion and the 1-87th Infantry deployed to Afghanistanmarker in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001. These forces remained in the country until mid-2002, fighting to secure remote areas of the country and participating in prominent operations such as Operation Anaconda, the Fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, and the Battle of Qala-i-Jangimarker. The division also participated in fighting in the Shahi Khot Valley in 2002. Upon the return of the battalions, they were welcomed home and praised by President Bush.

In 2003, the division's headquarters, along with the 1st Brigade, returned to Afghanistan. During that time, they operated in the frontier regions of the country such as Paktika Province, going places previously untouched by the war in search of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces. Fighting in several small-scale conflicts such as Operation Avalanche,Operation Mountain Resolve, and Operation Mountain Viper, the division maintained a strategy of small units moving through remote regions of the country to interact directly with the population and drive out insurgents. The 1st Brigade also undertook a number of humanitarian missions.

Reorganization and Iraq deployments

Upon the return of the division headquarters and 1st Brigade, the 10th Mountain Division began the process of transformation into a modular division. On September 16, 2004, the division headquarters finished its transformation, adding the 10th Mountain Division Special Troops Battalion. The 1st Brigade became the 1st Brigade Combat Team, while the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was activated for the first time. In January 2005, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was activated at Fort Polkmarker, Louisianamarker. 2nd Brigade Combat Team would not be transformed until September 2005, pending a deployment to Iraqmarker.

In late 2004, 2nd Brigade Combat Team was deployed to Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team undertook combat operations in western Baghdadmarker, returning to the US in late 2005. Around that time, the 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed back to Iraq, staying in the country until 2006.

Recent deployments

The division headquarters and 3rd Brigade Combat Team redeployed to Afghanistan in 2006, staying in the country until 2007. The division and brigade served in the eastern region of the country, along the border with Pakistanmarker, fulfilling a similar role as it did during its previous deployment. During this time, the deployment of the brigade was extended along with that of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, however, it was eventually replaced by the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team which was rerouted from Iraq.

After a one-year rest, the headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division was deployed to Iraq for the first time in April 2008, along with the 4th Brigade Combat Team. The division headquarters served as the command element for southern Baghdad, while the 4th BCT operated in North Baghdad. The 10th Mountain participated in larger scale operations such as Operation Phantom Phoenix.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team was slated to deploy to Iraq in 2009, but that deployment was rerouted. In January 2009, the 3rd BCT instead deployed to Logar and Wardak, eastern Afghanistan to relieve the 101st Airborne Division, as part of a new buildup of US forces in that country. The brigade was responsible for expanding Forward Operating Bases in the region, as well as strengthening US military presence in the region in preparation for additional US forces to arrive.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in the fall of 2009, as a part of the 2009-2010 rotation to Iraq. The Army is currently expanding housing at Fort Drum, hoping to relocate the home base of the 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Polk to Fort Drum before 2013.


The 10th Mountain Division was awarded two campaign streamers in World War II and four campaign streamers in the War on Terrorism for a total of six campaign streamers and two unit decorations in its operational history. Note that some of the division's brigades received more or fewer decorations depending on their individual deployments.

Unit decorations

Ribbon Award Year Notes
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 2001–2002 for service in Central Asia
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 2003–2004 for service in Afghanistan
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 2008–2009 for service in Iraq

Campaign streamers

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
World War II North Apennines 1945
World War II Po Valley 1945
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2001—2002
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2003—2004
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2006—2007
Operation Iraqi Freedom Iraq 2008—2009


The 10th Mountain Division was the subject of the 1996 film Fire on the Mountain, which documented its exploits during World War II. The 10th Mountain Division is also a prominent element of the book and film Black Hawk Down, which portrays the Battle of Mogadishu and the division's participation in that conflict. Among the division's other appearances are the Tom Clancy novel Clear and Present Danger, and the SCI FI 2005 film Manticore.

10th Mountain Division veterans were instrumental in the post World War II development of skiing as a vacation industry and big name sport. Ex-soldiers from the 10th laid out ski hills, designed ski lifts, became ski coaches, racers, instructors, patrollers, shop owners, and filmmakers. They wrote and published ski magazines, opened ski schools, improved ski equipment, and developed ski resorts.

Soldiers who served with the 10th Mountain Division later went on to achieve notability in other fields. Among these are mathematician Franz Alt, avalanche researcher and forecasting pioneer Montgomery Atwater, Congressman Les AuCoin, noted mountaineer Fred Beckey, United States Ski Team member and Black Mountain of Mainemarker resort co-founder Chummy Broomhall, former American track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, Inc.marker Bill Bowerman, former Executive Director and Sierra Club leader David R. Brower, former United States Ski Team member World War II civilian mountaineer trainer H. Adams Carter, former Senate Majority Leader and Presidential candidate Bob Dole, Olympic equestrian Earl Foster Thomson, founder of the National Ski Patrol Charles Minot Dole, painter Gino Hollander, Paleoclimatologist John Imbrie, theoretical physicist Francis E. Low, US downhill ski champion Toni Matt, falconer and educator Morley Nelson, comic book artist Earl Norem, founder of National Outdoor Leadership School and The Wilderness Education Association Paul Petzoldt, world downhill ski champion Walter Prager, World War II civilian ski instructor and division trainer Johannes Schneider, founder of VAIL Ski Resort Pete Seibert, member of the famous von Trapp familymarker singers Werner von Trapp, civilian technical adviser Fritz Wiessner, William John Wolfgram, Olympic Ski jumper Gordon Wren, Massachusetts Congressional candidate Nathan Bech, lder of Chalk 4 during the Battle of Mogadishumarker Matt Eversmann, Middle East analyst, blogger, and author Andrew Exum, and author Craig Mullaney.

Additionally, two members of the division have been awarded the Medal of Honor. John D. Magrath was the first person in the 10th Mountain Division to receive this award during World War II in 1945. The second, Jared C. Monti is the only other person from the 10th Mountain Division to receive the medal, which he did in 2009 for Operation Enduring Freedom.


OrBat of the 10th Mountain Division
The 10th Mountain Division contains four subordinate Brigade Combat Teams, a Combat Aviation Brigade, and a Special Troops Battalion. All of the elements of the division are mountain warfare-qualified. The division is the only one in the US Army to specialize in fighting under adverse weather and terrain conditions.


  2. McGrath, p. 166.
  3. Almanac, p. 592.
  4. Almanac, p. 590.
  5. Alamanc, p. 591.
  6. McGrath, p. 189.
  7. McGrath, p. 232.
  8. Bowden, Mark (March 1999). Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Atlantic Monthly Press. Berkeley, California (USA). ISBN 0-87113-738-0
  9. Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing (Springer, 1998). ISBN 978-0387985886
  10. Steve Roper, "David Ross Brower", American Alpine Journal, 2001, p. 455.
  11. "Losing the War" by Lee Sandlin
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  13. New York Times, Toni Matt Dies at 69; Former Ski Champion, May 19, 1989. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2007.
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  15. Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame - Peter W. Seibert.
  16. Schwartz, Susan (2005) Into The Unknown: The Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus
  17. Bowden, M (1999). Black Hawk Down, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-451-20393-9


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