|Index|||Defence|||Mountain Hunters|||Scouting|||Paratroopers|||Marines|||Humint|||Combat Divers|||PSY OPS|||DIR|||Special Forces|
Vanatori de Munte - History
In the 3rd of November, 1916, the 1st Mountain Corps was established, opening a very important chapter in the history of this elite branch.
The 2nd VM brigade saw action for the first time after world war two during the 1989 Romanian Revolution, when they fought unidentified terrorist elements in the central counties of Harghita and Covasna.
Several VM (Mountain Hunters) died in those operations.
There is no recognition of any kind and usually even no mention of the Mountain Hunters when talking about Odessa, Stalingrad, Moscow, Transylvania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany in all the documentaries, books, films, manuals and materials about World War II available in the West.
The only mentioning of the "Romanian Mountain Corps" in the entire World War II was a single line in a Discovery Channel documentary about the battle of Odessa. There, in a one-hour long film, a single line ever remembers them: "The Romanians were pushed back by Soviet tanks whom their anti-tank weapons could not penetrate".
A single line, tens of thousands of deaths. Perhaps you should remember the Romanian Mountain Hunters next time you thank your God for the freedom you enjoy.
Vanatori de Munte - Characteristics
The Mountain Hunters are an elite part of the infantry. Under the command of the Ground Forces, their specialities are fighting in mountaineous and difficult terrain. However they handle combat just as well when faced with fighting in forrests, hills or even flat ground and beaches.
Admission and Selection
Most of the soldiers selected to become mountain troopers are from a rural background and hail from areas around the Carpathian Mountains, where the base is located. Many already have some
experience in rock climbing and skiing.
Young people receive the command of the units
Tough physical training, marches, climbing, firing... these are the all important aspects in training conscripts incorporated into the VM units. In the 4th VM instruction base, located in Curtea de Arges, the home of the former 4th VM Brigade, conscripts are training hard. Major Gheorghe Gheorghe, chief of PE in the Ground Forces Chief of Staff, takes care of that.
Weapons and Equipment
Vanatorii de Munte usually rely on a large variety of weapons. At the heart of their arsenal is the Romanian-made AKM, an upgraded and recoiless local version of the famous AK-47 Kalashnikov. Romanian-made and NATO compatible 5.45mm automatic rifles are the weapon of choice of the Mountain Hunters. The guns are resistant to cold temperatures, soldiers said. The rifle butts have been designed so they can lie flat on soldiers’ backs without hindering them on hiking missions.
Order of Battle
Vanatorii de Munte are currently divided into three main brigades, and a large number of subunits which are incorporated into infantry and mecanized brigades.
Owners of Cheile Bicazului
A state of silent excitement envaled the Mountain Hunters of the 61st VM brigade (Miercurea Ciuc) as soon as they heard they will have a climbing camp in Cheile Bicazului.
On the almost vertical rocks, the climbers from the 17th VM battalion from Vatra Dornei (north Romania), lead by colonel Ioan Gaftone, are coming down. Ninety percent of the members of this battalion are recognized climbing experts and all of them have the 1st class climber degree.
In the past 10 years (1991-2001), this battalion has sent men to the platoon that represents Romania at the international military patrol competitions organized in common by Austria, Switzerland and Germany. In the past four years (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001), the Romanian platoon has been ranked first. Corporal and 1st degree climbing expert Simion Alboi was present at all these competitions. With him have also participated men like corporal 1st degree climbing expert Fanica Pascar, seargant 1st degree climbing expert Ion Pascaru and also seargants Nistor Doroftei, seargant-majors Nicolai Hondac and Nicolae Olaru and lieutenant Nestor Arcadie.
The head of the Combat Training Department, major Ion Procopiuc, is also the head of the Mountain Rescue Service in Vatra Dornei. Some of the best Mountain Hunters in the country are also members and sometimes leaders of the ultra-experienced Romanian Mountain Rescue teams. Called "Salvamont", these teams have rescue missions 3-4 times per week during the summer and daily rescues during winter. A typical rescue can involve marching for ten miles and then a recovery and transportation of the lost person/dead bodie(s) back to base that can take more than 12 hours. These teams can be deployed in a time interval as short as 10 or 15 minutes from the distress call, no matter the weather, and no matter whether it is day or night, wednesday of sunday, and even if they have just returned from a 12-16 hrs mission.
But the VM's from the other battalions are also acting bravely. If they didn't had the same experience as their collegues from Vatra Dornei, they try to gain it here, by watching and asking the experts.
The teamwork can be felt in the air. Nobody acts alone, no matter how experienced they are, and there is no such thing as a "show-off", as you so often see in American movies. This is not a cheap Hollywood movie. One, no matter how much of experience he might have, can very easily die here. One centimeter in the wrong place, and you become a 75 kilograms diving bomb into nothingness.
After such an amazing day, your stomach is screaming for a hot meal. The mountain air also makes it come faster. But the spirit is also not forgotten. Before lunch, Mihai Negrea, a Christian Orthodox priest, blesses the food and prays for the health of the soldiers and their victory in the battles with the unforgiving mountain. Father Negrea is a priest in a near-by village called Brosteni. He took the day off from his own church, in order to come here and be with his friends, the Hunters. In the future, he would like to become a permanent priest inside the unit, employed by the Army.
Most of these exercises took place in the Diham cabain, in the central Carpathian Mountains, near Brasov. Diham cabain was a very old mountain cabain which entered the international tourism circuit in the 1920's. It was renovated around the year 2000 by the sapper subunit of the 2nd VM brigade and 131 independent commando squadron, Royal Engineers. Diham burned completely in a fire in the winter of 2002.
A visit by US Senate advisorsA group of 7 US Senate advisors visited thursday, the 9th of august 2001, the 21st VM battalion from Predeal. They met and talked there with Sorin Encutescu, secretary of state in the Romanian MoD and also the head of the Department for the Relationship with the Parliament and Public Relationships. The visit included a static display of weaponry and equipment used by the Mountain Hunters and a dynamic show consisting of a complex search and rescue exercise combined with an ambush simulation which took place in Cheile Rasnoavei. At the end of the exercise, col (ret) John Miller, a foreign policy and military advisor of US senator Sam Brownback highly appreciated the training and professional level of the VM's, and underlined the unit cohesion, stating that this is a living example of Romania's military offer for NATO. He also stated that NATO needs such units for peace keeping and other types of operations.
A visit to Georgia
14 military personnel and enlisted men from the 2nd VM Brigade "Sarmizegetusa" and from the 1st VM battalion participated together with aproximately 300 soldiers from other 14 NATO and PfP countries at a peace-keeping exercise in Georgia.
The exercise, organized and conducted by the South-East NATO Headquarters from Izmir, Turkey, lasted two weeks.
The purpose of the exercise was to increase interoperability at a multinational subunit level by a change of experience in the area of peace-keeping. The scenario of the exercise was one of a NATO conducted, and UN ordered, peace keeping mission.
The Romanian Mountain Hunters have been present at all leves of the exercise.
The 15 countries organized their soldiers in multinational platoons. The platoon where the VM's were assigned to was formed of Romanian VM's and mountain troops from Georgia, Canada and Armenia.
Attention! The Romanians are coming!
In the second day of the exercise, thanks to the physical and moral support offered by the VM's to their collegues from the other three countries, their platoon obtained the 1st place in the exercise, out of 6 participating multinational platoons.
During the first week of the exercise, the Command of the Multinational Battalion familiarized itself with the standard procedures, such as reports and action orders. The next four days were of specific training sessions, which meant that the combatants and the Command centre had to be on duty for 24 hours a day, sometimes on a 49o Centergrade, in order to achieve their missions.
In all the structures and leves where they got involved, the VM's have managed to impress. The good English language skills helped the VM's from the battalion and Brigade command's to make adequate documents, orders and reports, which ensured the good organization and coordination of the subunits in the field.
A new challenge to which the VM's have been asked to response was PR. A Canadian team, experts in the relationship with mass-media, offered theoretical and practical lessons to everyone present at the exercise. Later on, this team impersonated the mass-media and its reactions during all the incidents that took place on the field. Despide their lack of experience in such activities, the VM's have managed to handle it adequatly.
After World War II, when they went from Moscow to Berlin, from Viena to Stalingrad and they liberated Romania and several other countries, the Mountain Hunters did not have combat operations. The exceptions are the missions during the 1989 Revolution, which are indeed war missions. However two days of combat in Brasov and Sfantu Gheorghe (both in central Romania) in december 1989 are not enough for a force of this calibre.
The Legend Of General Mociulschi
From Russia to Berlin, a forgotten Mountain Hunter fought for freedom
From the long list of forgotten heroes of the Romanian people, brought to an unfair state of annonimity, either by a Soviet-pressued communist government, or by our own and cheap habbit to despize and forget our great past, comes one who has been nicknamed "the legendary commander".
A Mountain Hunter on Everest
The famous loyalty of the VM's and a remarcable story about humanityAfter many years of mountain climbing in the military, and personal hiking trips in the amazing Romanian mountains, conquering peaks such as the ones from Fagaras or Bucegi, lieutenant Daniel Pisica got to be a member in the select group of Romanian mountain climbers. Also experienced in climbing peaks in far away continents, lt Pisica was one of the men who Defence officials thought of when they planned sending a soldier to the Romanian mission to Everest, at the 50th celebration of its conquest.
"God wanted that to be me", said lt Pisica.
No gear, no dealAfter the Defence Ministry had approved his departure, the youngest member of the team, lt. Daniel Pisica, started to look for proper equipment. Not a problem for climbers from countries like US or Switzerland, who spend tons of money in a douzen expeditions and still don't bring any results back home, the cost of the gear was the first obstacle in front of this mission. A simple pair of Lorpen sox costs around $50. And there's also tents, termarest, gore-tex, sleeping bags, boots, safety belts, communication equipment, taxes, etc. In total, 3,000 euros to say the least.
There is a funny saying among Romanian climbers today: "In the 1960's, sex was safe, and climbing - unsafe. In the 2000's, climbing is safe, but sex - unsafe".
The 14 members of the expedition left Romania on March the 27th, 2003, from Otopeni International Airport, North of Bucharest, and after a hop in Viena, a city craddled with smog, pick-pocketers and armed guards, landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
The Romanian team had the lowest budget of all the teams attempting to conquer the peak this year, however they did managed to achieve their goal. Not the same can be told about the Swiss team for example, which had an exagerrated budget even for their own standards, no less than 30 times larger than the Romanian team's budget. However, their performance was that they couldn't even get above Base Camp, but curiously enough, were greeted at home like 'heroes'.
From the 1,350 m altitude of Kathmandu, the climbing had to be made slowly, due to the fact that above 3,500 m, the human body needs to get used to the pressure changes and lack of oxygene, thing called 'aclimatisation'.
After their arrival in Kathmandu, the group increased by three members: Gheorghe Dijmarescu, a Romanian climber who has been living for 20 yrs now in the US, his wife, Lapka Sherpa, a world champion and the only woman to climb the Everest three times, and their 16-year old daughter, Dony Sherpa, who even at this young age already proved that she carries her parents genes.
The storm - a curse, the accident - bad luckDuring the climb, a sherpa gets pulmonary endem. Being the youngest, and also a Salvamont member, he decides to accompany him down to Base Camp, knowing very well that the person doing that would probably miss the ascention to the peak.
Lt. Pisica goes down the mountain with the injured Dyly Sherpa, thru the storm, arm to arm, as the sherpa could bearly walk. The road that was supposed to take 10 hours, now took 16. In the end, lt Daniel Pisica saved Dyly Sherpa's life. However, in the mean time, the climbers which were still on top got a window of opportunity, and they took it. Good weather came for a brief moment, and some of them have climbed the peak. The three "Americans" and three members of the group.
And that was it.... waiting your entire life to climb the top of the world, when misfortune happens. One more proof, if ever needed, of a Mountain Hunter's famous loyalty. Lt. Daniel Pisica got as high as 7,200 meters, and in the end, he saved a man's life. "And isn't that the supreme duty?", he asks in a bitter-sweet smile. Back to Kathmandu, Dyly Sherpa was very giving with beer and good words. His new friend and rescuer, a Romanian Mountain Hunter, left his own life-long desire to climb the peak, in order to save his life.
"If God helps me and I will be healthy, I will get, one day, ON TOP! For now, I have just made one 'assault'. What's left is the 'conquest'".
Sorin Romanian Special Forces Web Site is
Copyright © 2003-2004 by Sorin A. Crasmarelu