Wikipedia: The Alpini (Italian for "alpine"), are an elite mountain warfare military corps of the Italian Army. They are currently organized in two operational brigades, which are subordinated to the Alpine Troops Headquarters. Established in 1872, the Alpini are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world. Their original mission was to protect Italy's northern mountain border with France and Austria. In 1888 the Alpini deployed on their first mission abroad, in Africa, a continent where they returned on several occasions and during various wars of the Kingdom of Italy. They emerged during World War I as they fought a three-year campaign on the Alps against Austro-Hungarian Kaiserjäger and the German Alpenkorps in what has since become known as the "War in snow and ice". World War I Celestino Ellero, World War I . He wears the 1st issue Italian Gas mask container strapped over his right shoulder. ca. 1916. Italian positions on Cinque Torri summit today. Col di Lana after the detonation of the Italian mine. During World War I the 26 peacetime Alpini battalions were increased by 62 battalions and saw heavy combat all over the alpine arch. During the war years the Alpini regiments consisted of the following battalions (the pre-war raised battalions are in bold; their first line reserve battalions, named after valleys (in Italian: Val or Valle) and their second line reserve battalions, named after mountains (in Italian: Monte) drawn from the same recruiting areas as the original battalions follow below the pre-war battalions): Regiment 1st Alpini Ceva Val Tanaro Monte Mercantur Pieve di Teco Val Arroscia Monte Saccarello Mondovì Val d'Ellero Monte Clapier 2nd Alpini Borgo San Dalmazzo Val Stura Monte Argentera Cuneo Dronero Val Maira Bicocca Saluzzo Val Varaita Monviso 3rd Alpini Pinerolo Val Pellice Monte Granero Fenestrelle Val Chisone Monte Albergian Courmayeur Exilles Val Dora Monte Assietta Susa Val Cenischia Moncenisio 4th Alpini Ivrea Val d'Orco Monte Levanna Pallanza Aosta Val Baltea Monte Cervino Intra Val Toce Monte Rosa 5th Alpini Morbegno Val d'Intelvi Monte Spluga Monte Mandrone Tirano Valtellina Stelvio Tonale Edolo Val Camonica Monte Adamello Monte Ortler Vestone Val Chiese Monte Suello Monte Cavento 6th Alpini Verona Val d'Adige Monte Baldo Vicenza Val Leogra Monte Berico Monte Pasubio Bassano Val Brenta Sette Comuni 7th Alpini Feltre Val Cismon Monte Pavione Pieve di Cadore Val Piave Monte Antelao Belluno Val Cordevole Monte Pelmo Monte Marmolada 8th Alpini Gemona Val Tagliamento Monte Arvenis Tolmezzo Val Fella Monte Canin Cividale Val Natisone Monte Matajur Monte Nero Most of the above battalions were regular Alpini battalions, while some were units raised for special tasks: in example the Monte Marmolada battalion was a Skiing battalion tasked with combat on the Marmolada glacier. The Alpini battalions were divided in 233 companies of 100 to 150 men each. The Alpini regiments were never sent into battle as a whole, instead single companies and battalions were given specific passes, summits or ridges to guard and defend on their own. The war has become known as the "War in snow and ice", as most of the 600 km frontline ran through the highest mountains and glaciers of the Alps. 12 meters (40 feet) of snow were a usual occurrence during the winter of 1915/16 and thousands of soldiers died in avalanches. The remains of these soldiers are still being uncovered today. The Alpini, as well as their Austrian counterparts: Kaiserschützen, Standschützen and Landeschützen occupied every hill and mountain top around the whole year. Huge underground bases were drilled and blown into the mountainsides and even deep into the ice of glaciers such as the Marmolada. Guns were dragged by hundreds of troops on mountains up to 3,890 m (12,760 feet) high. Roads, cable cars, mountain railroads and walkways were built up, through and along the steepest of cliffs. Many of these walkways and roads are still visible today, and many are maintained as Via Ferrata for climbing enthusiasts. In addition, along the former frontline it is still possible to see what is left of hundreds of kilometers of barbed wire. In this kind of warfare, whoever occupied the higher ground first was almost impossible to dislodge, so both sides turned to drilling tunnels under mountain peaks, filling them up with explosives and then detonating the whole mountain to pieces, including its defenders: i.e. Col di Lana, Monte Pasubio, Lagazuoi, etc. Climbing and skiing became essential skills for the troops of both sides and soon Ski Battalions and special climbing units were formed. It was during these years that the Alpini, their spirit and their mules became famous, although at the cost of over 12,000 casualties out of a total of 40,000 mobilized Alpinis. Many of the famous Alpini songs originated during this time and reflect upon the hardships of the "War in Snow and Ice".