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91st Mountain Infantry Battalion

GebInfBat91_Fahnenabgabe_Chur_2019

Flag ceremony of the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion in Chur on August 28th, 2019.

Overview

The 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion (91st Mtn Inf Bn) is a component of the 3rd Territorial Division (3rd Ter Div) of the Swiss Armed Forces.

Our actions are always guided by our motto: "Unified in responsibility, unified in success".

Since its establishment, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn traditionally bears a strong connection to its godfather canton, the canton of Grisons. During the First and Second World War, this relationship was intensified due to the 91st Mtn Inf Bn active deployment as a border defense unit in the canton of Grisons.

Our tasks are versatile, ranging from homeland defence to a multitude of subsidiary operations focusing on the prevention and management of existential threats. Notably, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn conducts various support operations benefitting civil authorities and the general population of the Swiss Confederation.

The 91st Mtn Inf Bn is a predominantly German-speaking formation. However, from the 1980s to the army reform XXI in 2003 several companies were commanded in Rhaeto-Romanic, a fact historically unique to the Swiss Armed Forces.

History

The 91st Infantry Battalion, as well as other battalions, was formed as a result of the introduction of the Swiss Confederation’s Military Organisation Act on the 13th December 1874. Thus, the year of 1874 may be viewed as the birthyear of the 91st Mtn Inf Bn and indeed the entire Swiss Armed Forces as they are known today.

Until 1874, military organization had been managed by the individual cantons. With the Military Organisation Act, this authority was almost completely transferred to the federal level, including military enforcement and the formation of schools, courses and general instruction.

The 91st Inf Bn was issued its title by the “Verordnung betreffend die Territorialeintheilung und die Numerirung der Truppeneinheiten, sowie der zusammengesetzten Truppenkörper” on the 13th December 1874.

It belonged to the 16th Brigade of the 8th Division and consisted of the recruitment territories Chur, Churwalden, Rhäzüns, Thusis, Safien, Domleschg, Schams, Avers, Rheinwald, Misox, Roveredo, and Calanca (recruitment territory 7th in the 8th Division).

The canton of Grisons had been already providing the Federal Army with troops before 1874, as did all other cantons, a fact validated by Grisons’ Military Organisation Act of the 3rd December 1851, as well as by those in 1860 and 1867.

The provided troops consisted of three infantry battalions, which in contrast to current times did not bear any numeration. It is however possible to deduce which former battalions constitute the core of the battalion from 1874 based on their respective recruiting territories.

A comparison of these individual recruitment territories reveals that in 1874, the entirety of troops in the 91st Inf Bn originate from each former Grisons battalion, rendering every pre-1874 Grisons battalion an ancestor of today’s 91st Mtn Inf Bn.

The decision to fortify the Alps in the regions of the Gotthard, Sargans, and Saint-Maurice, with outworks in the Ticino, the Simplon, and St. Luzisteig, was already made during the 19th century. However, it took until 1911 to implement adequately trained and equipped troops specifically dedicated to conduct operations in an alpine environment.

Four mountain infantry brigades were formed within the scope of the Troop Organisation Act of 1911. Each of these brigades encompassed three infantry regiments, each possessing auxiliary weaponry.

The 91st Infantry Battalion formed in 1874 was renamed the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion as a result of these changes and received the appropriate conversions. Hence, 1911 is viewed as the second birthyear of the 91st Mtn Inf Bn. The 1911 iteration of the 91st was part of 36th Mountain Infantry Regiment within the 18th Mountain Infantry Brigade.

During the First World War (1914-1918), soldiers from St. Gallen, Glarus, and the Grisons served to protect the borders at the Umbrail pass, in the Engadin, and Münstertal to defend the sovereignty of the still rather young Swiss Confederation.

The 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion was one of these units, next to the 92nd and 93rd Mtn Inf Bn, which were also from the Grisons. At this point, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn was still incorporated in the 18th Mountain Infantry Brigade, which had been formed due to the Troop Organisation Act of 1911. In 1938, the 18th Mountain Infantry Brigade was renamed to the 12th Mountain Brigade.

Due to the deteriorating political climate, the number of mountain troops in the Swiss Armed Forces were increased thanks to the Army Organisation Act of 1938, resulting in three Mountain Divisions and three Mountain Brigades.

The new Army Organisation Act facilitated modern defences of the Swiss Alps for the entire period of active deployment during the Second World War (1939-1945).

Between the summer of 1940 and the autumn of 1944, the Alps were severely fortified and troops systematically prepared for alpine warfare. This strategy aided the deterrence of potential invaders.

The 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion, then part of the 12th Mountain Brigade, once again stood the test of adversity and defied the perils endangering Switzerland.

The 91st Mtn Inf Bn was subsequently renamed to the 91st Mountain Fusilier Battalion (91st Mtn Fus Bn). At the beginning of the Second World War, the battalion’s soldiers were doubly deployed in the 236th Border Battalion active in the region of the Splügen and San Bernadino pass. Therefore, the 91st Mtn Fus Bn was also appointed to defend the artillery fortress Crestawald.

Since the German panzer-divisions came threateningly close to the Swiss western border, the regiment was called “Combat Force Jorat” and moved to the Vaud. In 1944, the regiment returned to resume their service in the Grisons.

Thanks to the experiences of active service, the Troop Organisation Act of 1961 created the 3rd Mountain Army Corps (3rd Mtn AC), and the 12th Mountain Brigade was promoted to the 12th Mountain Division.

The central feature of the new 1961 Troop Organisation Act was the centralisation of command concerning all alpine forces.

The again renamed 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion was now part of the 12th Mountain Division, which had been formed in 1962 by the Troop Organisation Act of 1961, replacing the 12th Mountain Brigade. Within the 12th Mountain Brigade, the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion was subordinated to the 36th Mountain Infantry Regiment.

After the end of the Cold War, the size of the Swiss Armed Forces was decreased, and its tasks redefined as part of the Troop Organisation Act of 1995. The 3rd Mtn AC was reduced by around a third of its size, mainly owing to the decommissioning of the six border and réduit brigades.

However, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn remained. In 1999, the entire Mountain Infantry Regiment was deployed for guard-service at the embassy in Berne.

After the 12th Mountain Division’s dissolution at the end of 2003, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn was used as a reserve battalion in the 12th Mountain Division’s successor, the 12th Mountain Brigade, before being provisionally deactivated in 2010.

Hence, before its deactivation, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn was part of the 3rd Territorial Region (3rd Ter Reg).

Armed Forces Development Programme (AFDP)

Due to the implementation of the Armed Forces Development Programme (AFDP), which became effective on January 1st, 2018, the 91st Mtn Inf Bn has been reactivated. Its servicemen predominantly derive from the decommissioned German-speaking 77th Mtn Inf Bn. In addition, the AFDP introduced the following other modifications:

The 3rd Territorial Region (3rd Ter Reg) has been transferred into the 3rd Territorial Division (3rd Ter Div). The 3rd Ter Div is subdivided into the 3rd Coordination Office, the 3rd Territorial Staff Battalion, the 29th, 30th, 48th and 91st Mountain Infantry Battalions, the 3rd Engineer Battalion as well as the 3rd Rescue Battalion.

The proven method of general conscription and the militia system is to be left untouched. The size of the Swiss Armed Forces will remain at 100,000 members, and the annual budget will be set at five billion francs.

 

1.      Increased Readiness

  • New, graduated system of readiness allows for fully equipped troops to be summoned and deployed rapidly even in unexpected events.
  • Newly named militia-formations with a high level of readiness are formed to complement and assist already deployed troops.
  • Reintroduction of a mobilisation system for the entirety of the Swiss Armed Forces.
 

2.      Optimisation of Cadre Training

  • Stronger focus on more effective cadre training, future NCOs and COs complete entire basic military training school (18 weeks).
  • The completion of an entire basic military training school and a full turn of practical service in the targeted military rank lead to early and crucial experiences in leadership.
  • Elongation of preliminary courses to one week in order to strengthen leadership skills and a general improvement of cadre training.
 

3.      Completion of Equipment

  • Reduction of the armed forces and the reallocation of materials allow for the complete equipment of the armed forces to especially complement civil authorities and basic services.
  • Official militia formations with high readiness are rapidly equipped in their respective logistical centres and their branches.
 

4.      Regional Centralisation

  • Territorial divisions support civil authorities in an efficient and flexible manner, provide assistance in cases of natural catastrophes, and carry out security and support operations (rooted in the individual cantons).
  • Strengthening territorial divisions by means of organically subordinated bodies of troops (one staff battalion, four infantry battalions, one engineer battalion, and one rescue battalion) with the possibility of further allocations.

Bn Comdr


Dear members of the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion,

Dear visitors and interested parties,

 

I am delighted to welcome you to the official website of the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion! Honouring its motto of “unified in responsibility, unified in success”, the long-standing 91st Mtn Inf Bn, which has been reactivated thanks to the Armed Forces Development Programme, solemnly contributes to the preservation of stability, security, and prosperity in Switzerland and that of its people.

To accomplish our missions, values such as a sense of duty, order and discipline are vital. Motivated soldiers and cadres, who defer their personal needs to benefit the collective and in doing so act dutifully, reputably, and in a disciplined manner, are crucial for the success of the battalion.

I am honoured to be allowed to report that these values are lived in the 91st Mtn Inf Bn. Every chain is only as strong as each individual link, and the strength of each link varies depending on the task at hand. With this knowledge, we aim to be respectful and supportive of each other, and always act as comrades.

I would like to tender my personal gratitude to every member of the 91st Mountain Infantry Battalion for the positive attitude you keep and the service you contribute to our battalion and the Swiss Confederation!

I am looking forward to serving with you.

 

MAJ GSO Michael Lampert

Comdr 91st Mtn Inf Bn

 

Photos

geb_inf_bat_91

Commanding Officer

91st Mtn Inf Bn HQ 3rd Ter Div
Neuland 8
CH-6460 Altdorf
Tel.
+41 58 481 43 43‬
Fax
+41 58 481 43 45

91st Mtn Inf Bn

HQ 3rd Ter Div
Neuland 8
CH-6460 Altdorf