In his first visit as the new defence minister Rajnath Singh flew to Siachen on Monday morning, accompanied by Army chief General Bipin Rawat and other senior officials from the Defence Ministry to review the security situation.
He landed first at the high altitude Thoise airfield in Ladakh, from there he travelled to an operational base, before reaching the Siachen Glacier.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and Kargil war hero Lt Gen YK Joshi briefed the new minister on various issues including the security situation in the region, and routine operations at the world’s highest battleground about the support given by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Singh also interacted with the soldiers posted there.
Presentations were made on the overall preparedness of the army as well as on the functioning of 14 and 15 corps. The Indian Army’s 14 Corps guards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China as well as the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan. The Srinagar-based 15 Corp has been tasked with carrying out anti-terror operations in the Kashmir valley.
The base camp is the world’s highest battlefield situated in the Karakoram Range, and the soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds. Also, at an average altitude of 20,000 feet, avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winters and temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.
The Indian Army has been posted at Siachen Glacier since 1984, when India had carried out `Operation Meghdoot’ to push back Pakistani forces and took the peak.
In a tweet, Singh expressed his gratitude towards the Army personnel and their families for their service to the nation — “I am proud of all Army personnel serving in Siachen who are leaving no stone unturned to defend our motherland. I am also proud of their parents who have sent their children to serve the nation by joining the Armed forces. I will personally send a thank you note to them.”