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Mind over mountain

Rain cascades down the tree trunks of the Julian Alps. On brighter days this majestic landscape would see tourists and enthusiastic hikers losing themselves in its slopes.

But today the weather is unseasonably grim and still, with movement only in the dark rolling sky, the cool wind and the relentless, hissing precipitation.

The sole humans inhabiting this place now are Reservists from 4th Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment along with their international allies.

And not just any allies, these troops are members of Slovenia’s 132nd Mountain Regiment – part of Nato’s Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare.

Along with soldiers from the US Colorado National Guard, they have deployed with the Brits on Exercise Triglav Star, named after the highest peak in the region (2,864m).

And as well as the obvious benefits of learning new skills and drills in mountain operations, this package is helping to clear the air.

“There’s a concern amongst our European allies that because of Brexit Britain may not take its role in Nato as seriously,” explains the unit’s commanding officer Lt Col Justin Tancrel.

“So any chance we get to demonstrate our resolve is good.

“This exercise is doing that.”

More than 105 Reservists, including members of 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment and The Queen’s Own Yeomanry, have travelled to the central European country, which is renowned for its mountains and lakes. And after tabbing up a narrow, slimy slope next to the green, swirling Sava Bohinjka river, it is time for a platoon to get stuck into a rope river crossing.

No let-up here for anyone troubled by heights; the afternoon sees the same troops scramble up wet, loose rocks to reach a hostilelooking cliff face that theymust abseil down while carrying their weapon.


Read the full story in the October issue…

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