Aptly nicknamed “Mountaineer” and with a motto of “Climb to Glory,” the history and heritage of the 10th Mountain Division is inextricably tied to its pioneering role in the development of mountain and winter warfare.
Prior to the 10th Mountain Division, which was originally constituted as the 10th Light Division on 10 July 1943, the United States Army had no single unit specially trained for combat in mountainous terrain or harsh winter conditions. But the performance of the small but mobile Finnish army in holding back the mighty Russian army in snowy conditions in mountainous terrain during the Russian invasion of 1939-1940 left U.S. tacticians convinced of the need of such specialized divisions.
Originally, ten mountain divisions were planed—but this was reduced to a more realistic goal of three, and in the end only the 10th Mountain Division saw active duty. In World War II, it fought in some of the most tortuous terrain and against some of the most well-entrenched and well-disciplined troops fielded by the Germans, earning credit for participation in two named campaigns in the European Theater. Since the start of the War on Terrorism, the 10th Mountain Division’s training and skill set has led to it and/or its subordinate units being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan more than any other division; the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion alone earned five Meritorious Unit Commendations between 2001 and 2015.