The 31st IFMS congress in Innsbruck 07-11 september 2016

From 7 to 11 September I had the good fortune to be in Innsbruck for the 31st Congress of the IFMS and I did not know what to expect as the only Mountain Soldiers I had met beforehand were the Italian Alpini with whom I have had close ties for several years. From the beginning I had been impressed by them and I agree with General Frido von Senger und Etterlin, Commander of the XIV Panzer Corps in World War II, who described them as follows “In Piedmont there were also many alpine units, the best that the Italian Army could produce---proud, quiet, outwardly not very disciplined troops, but reliable types, brought up the hard way, accustomed to camping in the eternal snows with only the barest supplies. They were magnificent soldiers, to whose pride and modesty I paid tribute whenever I happened to encounter an Alpino”.

I came to Innsbruck looking forward to meeting Mountain Soldiers from the other member countries of the IFMS and already on the first day of the Congress it was clear that the values which I had associated with the Alpini are values which are shared by all the Mountain Soldiers represented by the IFMS. Everyone felt at home, there were no divisions by rank and all those present shared experiences, tales of adventure and of sacrifice to help others. By the end of the first day we all felt we were part of an extended family and glad to be together. Despite my coming from a country where there are no real mountains my ambition when the Congress ended was, and is, to see if even my country can share in the strength and friendship of everyone present by being able in the future to join the IFMS.

Throughout the Congress, both during the meetings and when we were in the mountains overlooking Innsbruck, we all spoke to each other in English and even if for some of the Mountain Soldiers present English was difficult no-one had any problem understanding or of being understood by the others. When the Bulgarian Association was unanimously elected to become a member of the IFMS all the other Associations were enthusiastic and the Bulgarians even more so, and I was particularly impressed by the chairman of the Bulgarian Association because even though he did not speak any English he was just as enthusiastic as everyone else.

I spoke with members of all the Associations present and no one Association was any different from all the others. I am now certain that the description of the Alpini by General Frido von Senger und Etterlin can be used to describe Mountain Soldiers in general because all of them have been moulded by their mountain background. They are used to sacrifice and to helping each other without hesitation and without expecting any possible returns. The mountains give one the strength to find solutions when there are problems which others may find unsurmountable, for example in war and when there are emergencies such as earthquakes, avalanches, floods or fires. Mountain Soldiers without exception are ready at all times when there is a call of duty and the first question is not “Why” but “Where”.

I left the Congress wishing it could have lasted longer and hoping that when in the future I will be in one of the countries where there is an Association which is in the IFMS I will be able to again meet the Mountain Soldiers I met in Innsbruck.


IFMS Congress

Date

Event

Location

2016

XXXI. Congress

Insbruck, Austrian

2015

XXX. Congress

Budva, Montenegro

2014

XXIX. Congress

Andermatt, Switzerland

2013

XXVIII.Congress

Gorizia / Kobarid (Italy / Slovenia)

2012

XXVII.Congress

Tremp, Lleida-Spain

2011

XXVI.Congress

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

2010

XXV.Congress

Bled, Slovenia

2009

XXIV. Congress

Chamonix, France

2008

XXIII. Congress

Jaca, Spain

2007

XXII. Congress

Zakopane, Poland

2006

XXI. Congress

Gwatt, Swiss

2005

XX. Congress

Stowe, VT, USA

2004

XIX. Congress

Luino, Italia

2003

XVIII. Congress

Füssen, Germany

2002

XVII. Congress

Bled, Slovenia

2001

XVI. Congress

Jaca, Spain

2000

XV. Congress

Grenoble, France

1999

XIV. Congress

Polonica Zdroj, Poland

1998

XIII. Congress

Stans, Swiss

1997

XII. Congress

Aosta, Italia

1996

XI. Congress

Bad Reichenhall, Germany

1995

X. Congress

Sun Vally, Idaho, USA

1994

IX. Congress

Feldkirchen, Austria

1993

VIII. Congress

Briancon, France

1992

VII. Congress

Andermatt, Swiss

1991

VI. Congress

Bozen, Italia

1990

V. Congress

Mittenwald, Germany

1989

IV. Congress

Vail, Colorado, USA

1988

III. Congress

Grenoble, France

1987

II. Congress

Salzburg, Austria

1986

I. Congress

Bergamo, Italia

1985

Founding meeting

Mittenwald, Germany