Based at Fort Drum, New York, the 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division in the United States Army. Originally constituted as a mountain warfare unit, the division was the only one of its size to receive intense specialized training for fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions.
The 10th Division was originally organized in 1918 as a Regular Army and National Army division for World War I. However, it did not go overseas. It demobilized in February 1919 at Camp Funston, Kansas and it was redesignated as the Panama Canal Division after the war. It shares no connection with the 10th Mountain Division activated during World War II.
Originally activated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. The Division reached Nauders, Austria on May 5th, 1945 beyond the Resia Pass, where it made contact with German forces being pushed south by the U.S. Seventh Army. A status quo was maintained until the enemy headquarters involved had completed their surrender to the Seventh. On May 6th, 10th Mountain troops met the 44th Infantry Division of Seventh Army.
Following the war, the division was inactivated, reactivated and redesignated as the 10th Infantry Division in 1948. The division first acted as a training division and, in 1954, was converted to a full combat division and sent to Germany before being inactivated again in 1958.
The division was designated the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) to historically tie it to the World War II division after it was reactivated in 1985. This also better described its modern disposition. The 10th Mountain Division or elements of the division have deployed numerous times since being reactivated.
The division has participated in Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope, Somalia; Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Operation Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia; Hurricane Andrew disaster relief in Homestead, Florida; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti; Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo; and has had several deployments as part of the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai Peninsula. In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, respectively. since 2001, the division and its four combat brigades have been involved in more than 20 deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, the 10th Mountain Division honors its legacy in many ways, one by retaining the “Mountain” tab on soldiers’ shoulder sleeve insignia. Documenting its exploits in WWII, the Division was the subject of the 1996 film Fire on the Mountain, which portrayed its exploits during World War II. The 10th Mountain Division is also a prominent element of the book and film Black Hawk Down, which depicts the Battle of Mogadishu and the division’s participation in that conflict. Among the division’s other appearances are the Tom Clancy novel Clear and Present Danger, the Science Fiction 2005 film Manticore, Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and Sean Parnell’s war memoir. Published in 2012, the depiction gives an account of Parnell’s platoon’s experiences in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Skiing associations contend that veterans of the 10th Mountain Division had a substantial effect in the post-World War II development of skiing as a vacation industry and major sport. Ex-soldiers from the 10th laid out ski hills, designed ski lifts, became ski coaches, racers, instructors, patrollers, shop owners and filmmakers. They also wrote and published ski magazines, opened ski schools, improved ski equipment and developed ski resorts.