SOURCE: THE PRINT
As India and China meet for the seventh corps commander-level talks Monday, efforts are on to ensure that every Indian soldier deployed in eastern Ladakh gets all the necessities required to stay put at forward positions where temperatures have already started dropping below zero degrees Celsius.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that another important area of focus was ensuring the rotation of troops. They said that while advance rations for the next 14 months have been bought and have reached Ladakh, a big logistical push is being made to create space to house the 40,000 additional troops deployed to the region since May this year.
“A lot of logistics have been set up. There would be some teething issues, but they are being taken care of in time. The best is being given to soldiers,” a source said.
A second source said what is needed is “Siachen-like” preparations as another pointed out that in any operation, the herculean task is not deploying soldiers to the front, but providing the logistical back-up.
The Army has gone in for emergency procurement of high-altitude clothing and pre-fabricated tents, among other items, in India’s worst border stand-off since the Kargil battle in 1999.
Army Vice Chief Lt Gen. S.K. Saini had said Saturday that while a large number of the troops are deployed in extremely high-altitude areas, where the temperature touches -50 degrees Celsius, India is still importing cold-weather clothing and equipment for them due to “lack of viable indigenous solutions”.
Central security agencies’ assessment
An assessment was carried out by central security agencies on the state of logistical affairs in late August and early September, to find what could be done to overcome any lacunae.
Sources said several issues were flagged by the agencies and the logistics work was then sped up to ensure all preparations were completed before the winter settled in.
“The Chinese aggression along the LAC has resulted in creation of 4-5 mini Siachen-like logistical challenges. And hence what is needed is Siachen-like logistics planning to cater to the troops,” a source said.
The source added that getting rations is one thing, and setting up kitchen is another.
This source also said another important aspect was the rotation of troops, to ensure they remain fighting fit and don’t fall prey to the high altitude and extreme cold.
“The rotation process is being worked out. The Indian Air Force has been roped in for all logistics issues, and is a doing stellar job,” the source said.
ThePrint had reported earlier that one likely fall-out of the current tensions could be increased permanent deployment of forces in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in what could be termed as the “LoC-isation” of the LAC.
With higher deployment, some vantage points could get physical posts instead of being left open to the risk of possible incursion by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
And with no immediate resolution in sight to the ongoing tensions, the Army has also started drawing up a strategy for next summer in Ladakh.