History of High Altitude Warfare School
In 1948, Indian Army established a ski school in Gulmarg which later became the High Altitude Warfare School of the Indian army specialising in snow–craft and winter warfare. The foundation of High Altitude Warfare School of Indian Army was credited to the loss of Gilgit-Baltistan in the Siege of Skardu to Pakistan in Indo-Pak war of 1947-1948. The school was established in December 1948 by General Kodendera Subayya Thimayya, then holding the rank of Brigadier. It was initially known as the ‘19 Infantry Division Ski School’. During the winter of 1949-50, the school was re-designated as a Command Establishment and renamed as the ‘Winter Warfare School’. On 8 April 1962, the School was designated a Category A Training Establishment and renamed as High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS).
Courses Offered at High Altitude Warfare School
High Altitude Warfare School offers two training programmes, the Mountain Warfare course and the Winter Warfare course. The Mountain Warfare course is conducted in Sonamarg between May and October each year. The Winter Warfare course is conducted in Gulmarg between January and April. The two courses train personnel in High Altitude warfare, counter intelligence and survival skills. The training imparted at High Altitude Warfare School consists mainly of skiing techniques, mountain lore and patrolling on skis.
Ice-craft is taught at Machoi across Zojila. Army personnel deployed to the Siachen Glacier and to other high altitude forward posts on the Himalayan borders go through the courses. High Altitude Warfare School also trains Indian Armed Forces’ personnel for winter sports such as Snowboarding, Alpine Skiing and Nordic Skiing.
There are about 50 instructors at the school who keep a strong bond with students. The campus also houses a museum celebrating both successful and unsuccessful summit attempts by army men to the most dangerous peaks in the world.