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Indian Army gets ready for a long winter deployment along the 826-km Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and has plans of sending in additional troops. The Indian Army is already in the process of procuring gloves, sleeping bags, special world class boots as well as layered jackets which would help the troops to deal with the extreme cold. Besides the need additional habitat for more troops being deployed, winter clothing, rations, there is going to be a huge need for fuel and equipment to last through the deadly winters. According to experts while there is expected to be additional expenses involved, maintaining a supply chain too will be a challenge.
Though there are heated facilities with bunker beds for around 10,000 troops who are already there, with additional troops the Army is also working on special diet plan and special arctic tents as the temperatures in the night are expected to touch almost -30 C in winters. The soldiers will be given multiple pair of clothing including shoes which often get wet due to snow.
New sleeping habitat like arctic tents and special high-nutrient diet are to be provided for almost 30,000 troops who have been in the region since May with heavy equipment to respond to any action by the Chinese side.
During the winters patrolling has always been curtailed, however, this time with the tensions mounting between India and China, and the heavy presence of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) across the LAC, India is not ready to take any chances.
The troops have to be fed special diet as they will be staying in low oxygen areas where there are no trees in Eastern Ladakh. The Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences study has done a calorie intake study and concluded that the requirement could be anything between 4,270 and 4,550 calories per day per person. So the ration going for them would include energy bars, chocolates, more fruits and vegetables.
An army marches on its stomach; this idiom has been attributed to Frederick the Great (1712) and Napolean Bonaparte (1760-1821). It is an English version of the French phrase c’est la soupe qui fait la soldat or ‘it’s the soup that makes the soldier.’
Sharing his view with Financial Express Online, Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd), says, “The current standoff along the LAC is a nightmare for the Operations and Logistics staff, as modern army’s require much more than a piece of bread and soup. The super high altitude and desert terrain, sparse vegetation entails that all items need to be transported both by road and air. While the winter stocking must have been carried out, the lines of communication for logistics need to be kept open irrespective of the weather.”
“This is a daunting task for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) as in addition to carrying out the construction of new roads it now has to ensure that the passes are kept open despite the heavy snowfall and minus thirty degree temperatures. While the man is being looked after the ‘machine’ – equipment management will be tested to its extremes as the extreme cold weather conditions have its impact on perishable parts. Make shift shelters need to be created with heating and protection from the moisture.”
There is a need to ensure that the troops deployed are sent on rotational rest and recuperation so that mental fatigue of deployment in a cold frigid region does not affect the moral of the troops.
“I am sure that the Military Leadership is well seized of the challenges that are being faced and have pragmatic solutions with years of experience, having done such deployments in areas akin to the present deployment,” Lt Col Manoj K Channan concludes.