After posting thousands of troops to new forward posts in eastern Ladakh after belligerent moves by China, the Army has took out old sleeping bags from its reserves in order to better equip soldiers for bitter winter months on the frontier.
The bags were acquaired in 2006 but not given to the soldiers after they were discovered to be unfit for use in “glacier and super higher altitude areas”.
The Italian supplier who supplied these bags was also heavily penalized for supplying faulty items and these faulty bags were placed in storage at Kanpur. Later in 2015, according to the Army, a board of officers again examined the consignment containing bags and permitted it for use in “lower altitudes”.
Explaining the authority’s decision to use them now, an official said that a group of officers appointed in 2015 found that they can be used by troops which are deployed at lower altitudes. Thus, the authorities preserved the consignment.
A portion of this consignment was issued in July 2020 to troops who are deployed at lower altitudes and are undergoing training and acclimatization. The official claimed further that the consignment has been found to be acceptable by troops and there have been no problems with the bags. These items were then sent for newly inducted troops which are undergoing training and acclimatization before they get deployed on heights.
The sleeping bags were taken out of the depository and then sent to Ladakh as India deployed around 50,000 troops to counter the aggressive moves by the PLA. As deployment of troops was very unexpected, India has been trying to purchase high-altitude survival gear from across the globe, including under a logistics exchange agreement with the US.
The Economic Times has reported that around 11,000 sets of Extended Cold Weather Clothing System have come from the US Army stock holdings.
In 2006, the army had acquired 35,580 sleeping bags from an Italian company for troops deployed in Siachen and other glacier areas. Soldiers who worn some of the pieces in the consignment complained to the authorities that the bags were not warm enough as the down feathers were not evenly filled.