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Are Bicycles an Effective Mode of Transportation for the Military?

The Swiss Cycle Regiment was introduced in 1891, and remained battle-ready for famously neutral Switzerland until 2003. The 3,000-strong regiment rode green-camouflaged Swiss army bicycles and were known to move quickly across difficult alpine terrain, often carrying as much as 352 pounds (160 kg) of equipment -- including bazookas, mortars, grenades, and ammunition. A casualty of modernization in an age of high-tech warfare, the Swiss Cycle Regiment was the last two-wheeled combat unit in the world.

Choosing peace over war:

  • Military service is not very popular in Switzerland. After a 15-week initial training session, able-bodied men must participate in three-week refresher courses every two years until the age of 42.

  • The last time the Swiss military actually engaged in combat occurred during the Sonderbund War, a brief civil war in November 1847.

  • In 1996, Switzerland joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and since then has deployed some soldiers to peacekeeping missions abroad.

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