Zug, 02.04.2019

Cantonal officials pay visit to 48th Mountain Infantry Battalion

A number of senior politicians and officials from Zug paid a day visit to the 48th Mountain Infantry Battalion in Walenstadt in the canton of St Gallen last week to see how the military train for a major emergency.



Among those on the visit were Beat Villiger, who heads the Cantonal Department of Security (shown in the photograph using a sniper rifle), Monika Barmet, the chair (Speaker) of the cantonal parliament, Urs Marti, the head of the Zug Office of Civil Defence and Military, Thomas Armbruster, the chief of police, and Gregor Bruhin, a city councillor who is also quarter master of the 48th Mountain Infantry Battalion.


Reserve units frequently have to attend repeat courses with the previous one this Zug battalion went on taking place during the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year. This latest one took place in the area around Sargans, with as many as 600 soldiers taking part, 250 of whom were from Zug.


The distinguished visitors from Zug were able to use a Super Puma military helicopter to get to their destination that day, taking off from the Hinterberg helicopter pad in Steinhausen and flying first along the southern shore of Lake Zurich and then over Walensee, the lake with its dramatic steep cliffs, before arriving in Walenstadt where there were met by the battalion’s commandant, Gregor Hänggi.


At present, four military companies are based in the Walenstadt area, with the Zug delegation first visiting the barracks at St Luzisteig close to the border with Liechtenstein. It is here where military scouts train; one of them, 23-year-old Roger Schmidt of Baar, was so well camouflaged that the visitors were a little taken aback as he emerged from the bushes.


Then it was time to attend shooting practice, the visitors from Zug looking at the targets through binoculars. It is only rarely that live ammunition is used as the military can make use of ultrasound and other technology to simulate the accuracy of shots.


In the afternoon a visit by military vehicle to the practice village of Aeuli was on the programme. It is here where every building is fitted with cameras and sensors, enabling soldiers to experience what it would be like to free such an area from terrorists.


Speaking in his capacity as press officer of the battalion, Kevin Hofstetter from Lucerene said that, to many soldiers, the exercise may appear initially like a computer game, but they have to react in the professional way they have been trained.


The next repeat training for the reserve units, planned for 2020, is actually to take place in the canton of Zug.