As winter’s icy grasp takes hold of large parts of North America, today, I thought I’d feature a pic of the Austrian Gebirgsjäger, which I believe translates roughly to “mountain rangers” or “mountain infantry.” Either way, they are a specialized branch of the Austrian Armed Forces (the Bundeswehr)  trained in mountain warfare.  This is a skill set that is particularly relevant given Austria’s alpine landscape. They didn’t set “The Sound of Music” there for nothing.




This photo of a Gebirgsjäger group was taken in 1942 during the Battle of the Caucuses.  Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

History and Background

The mountain infantry of Austria traces its lineage back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Landesschützen regiments. Established under Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1907, these regiments wore the edelweiss on their uniform collars, a symbol of their mountain expertise. Similarly, the German mountain infantry upholds traditions from the German Alpenkorps of World War I, who received the edelweiss insignia from the Landesschützen during joint operations against Italy.

During World War II, both the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS formed several mountain infantry units, distinguishable by their Edelweiss insignia on sleeves and caps. These units were characterized by lighter equipment, mule-based transport, and a specific armament strategy, including fewer automatic weapons but more ammunition for machine guns and specialized rifles like the G33/40 Mauser. They participated in various significant operations, including in the Caucasus, Crete, the Balkans, and France.

Edelweiss Raid 2023


Post-World War II, with the establishment of the Bundeswehr, the mountain infantry was reintroduced in West Germany. Until 2001, they were part of the Gebirgsdivision, later reorganized as the Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23, based in Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria. This brigade, emphasizing the close bond between the state and the Gebirgsjäger, focuses on tasks like extreme weather and varied terrain warfare.