Die Gebirgstragtiere der Bundeswehr

The

The subject came up in a discussionwith a friend and since its always been a favorite of mine I’d thought I’d post on the horses and mules of the German mountain troops.  The Bundeswehr, has one brigade of true mountain troops, Gebirgsjager, who are expert skiers, climbers, and cold weather soldiers.  As part of the brigade headquarters, they maintain the Gebirgstragtierwesen (Mountain Pack Animal Detachment) 230.

 230 is a logistics unit that utilizes a combination of Halflinger mountain horses and Mules to move heavy equipment and supplies over mountainous terrain in support of the mountain brigade.  The unit has approximately 60 mules and 20 horses.  They are stationed at the General Konrad Kaserne (formerly the Gebirges Artillerie Kaserne), in Bad Reichenhall, Germany –in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. During the Cold War the kaserne was the home of the German mountain artillery battalion and mules were an important part of that unit as well –used to transport disassembled light howitzers in support of the gebirgesjager.

A great video on their training can be found by clicking on the below picture:

tragtier

  The “Muli” and Halflingers have a long history with the German and Austrian mountain troops that goes back to before World War I.  A superb discussion with great pictures of the mountain troops and tragtier in particular was posted at the Society of the Military Horse discussion boards .

Military packing was once an important military craft.  The U.S. army made extensive use of mule pack trains up through and including in World War II.  Tens of thousands of mules were employed by the U.S. army as pack animals in the mountains of Italy and in the China Burma Theater.

To my knowledge, three European countries maintain active tragtier units; Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.  Austria and Germany use Mules and Halflingers while the Swiss army uses Freiberger Swiss mountain horses.  The German mules have been employed on active operations in Kosovo –though I have not heard yet of a deployment to Afghanistan.

The below video, though a little long (9 minutes), demonstrates the animals and equipment of the gebirgesjager and, if you can follow the German, tells you a little about them.

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ausgezeitnet!

  2. wow…really helpful post, thanks for sharing.

  3. The discussion of this topic continues on the Society for the Military Horse forum.

    In addition, GREAT article with pictures on the Swiss Army Frieberger Mountain horses at:

    http://www.beatenbergbilder.ch/home/reportage_30_train_beatenberg.htm

  4. […] the 1930s. The breed is still in use with the Austrian and German armies as a mountain supply horse (see previous blog on German army  ”tragtier”). Hans stands right about 14 hands and has the typical type coloring (chestnut (light golden brown) […]

  5. hallo

    Leuk deze website. Ik heb een Freiberger en een Haflinger. Jammer genoeg vind ik geen filmpjes over de zwitsers. Dus als je er ooit een vind houd ik me van harte aanbevolen.

    groeten Ine

  6. Ausgezeitnet! Ist gefaelltmich schwer!

  7. Great, I´m also a horse soldier, from Chile, and I would like to know more about countries who actually are using horses and mules.
    This is a excellent page to learn and share about our experience and maybe an opportunity to promote visits with other countries.

  8. Here are several links you may find interesting:

    Military mules in Pakistan relief effort
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4354440.stm

    HORSE SOLDIERS: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan By Doug Stanton
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/books/review/Barcott-t.html?_r=1&8bu&emc=bua1

    Marines Plan on More Horsing Around
    http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/marines/a/marinehorse.htm

    A new US Army Special Forces field manual on animal packing (about 14mg) can be downloaded from this site:
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=1995

    Fox News video clip on US Marines training with mules:
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/3938253

    Fox News story on the same:
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,540432,00.html

    Saludos —

  9. This is great. I really enjoyed it. They are cute.

  10. A note on horses in the Austrian Armed Forces: The “Tragtierzentrum” of the 6th (Mountain) Infantry Brigade at Hochfilzen, where all pack animals are concentrated, solely uses Haflingers!
    I can’t rule out mules being used for “evalution” or on occasion on foreign deployment (e.g. Kosovo).

    For some nice official pics go to:
    http://www.bmlv.gv.at/download_archiv/photos/tiere/galerie.php?id=933&currRubrik=82


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