The face-off between Indian and Chinese army which started five months back is showing no sign of subsiding. Both the armies are now preparing themselves for the coming harsh winters.
The armed forces are getting prepared for the long haul in the Easter Ladakh where the Chinese troops have violated the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Though both the nations are trying to end the conflict peacefully, the Indian Army is taking no chance against the PLA and is getting ready to face the harsh weather and extremities. Besides troops and ammunition, the Chinese Army has also increased the number of boats at Pangong Lake.
According to the reports, the Chinese government has provided PLA with prefabricated thermal shelters to counter the extreme cold temperatures that can even rise to minus 25 degrees Celsius. These shelters are developed by Army engineers and these shelters have washrooms, toilets, and heating equipment in them.
These shelters can manage the temperature up to minus 55 degrees Celsius. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly (JDW) report, the Chinese Army is using these shelters for the past 2 years and these shelters can be adjusted according to the soldier’s requirements. The Prestigious magazine further stated that the PLA troops are provided with new high-tech clothes to combat the extreme temperature.
According to the army sources currently, 50,000 Chinese soldiers are guarding the LAC and these soldiers have a topographical advantage over Indian soldiers. China has also laid a web of metal roads that are used to transport troops, food, and ammunition faster and cheaper.
According to a report by Global Times, The Chinese State Grid Corporation has scheduled to finalize its power project by laying a 1.689km long transmission line which will cost around $1.1 billion and it will be completed by December end of this year. The PLA post along the LAC is also likely to get fully electrified.
While on the other hand, the Indian Army is all set to guard the LAC during the winters. The Army has a disadvantage of infrastructure like improper roads, unfriendly terrain, etc. The Indian government sends major requirements like food, petrol, ammunition from the plains with help of the army trucks, Indian Air Force heavy aircraft which is a very expensive means of transport.
Currently, 40,000 Indian troops are being deployed along the LAC that stretches over from 250-300 km. According to an Army official the Indian Army has over 36 years of experience of guarding 17,000 feet Siachen glaciers along with avalanches, slippery slopes.
As per the reports, the Indian Army has made all the arrangements with few smaller issues left to tie up for the coming winters. Proper clothing, heated tents, food, petrol, and all other necessities have been stored in the warehouses at Leh from where these goods are being sent to logistics at the border through trucks, helicopters, or even mules.
The Indian Army is also provided with arctic tents that can have 3-5 soldiers at once and prefabricated insulated huts which can accommodate 6-20 troops at once. Indian is also planning to deploy more soldiers along the LAC because of the aggression shown by China.
The Indian Army can’t establish shelters like the PLA because of rocky terrain, limited spaces, and fiery winds carrying deadly particles of sand. Also, the semi-permanent bricks and mortar buildings are impossible to construct as the cement applied will only get dry in the next summers, the reports read.
The Indian Soldiers can also face complications like high blood pressure, nose bleeds, hypertension, and hypothermia at such high altitudes but the AMC teams have been deployed for every battalion and all the arrangements have been done for their living. Although the Chinese Army will also remain in the same weather with better living conditions they are at an advantage.
The only disadvantage PLA troops have is the experience. The Chinese Army fought its last war in such conditions in 1979 with Vietnam. So there is a gap of about 4 decades and this time China is against India who has a great experience of combating at such heights and in extreme weather.
This advantage if the Indian Army can help the Indian Army to have an upper hand at the Border along the LAC.
Apart from the winter strategies, the Indian Army is also drafting strategies for the coming summer next year. The Indian Army is planning for the permanent deployment of troops in the view of ongoing tensions along the LAC. According to the sources both the Nations see in talks to resolve the matter and the disengagement from both sides of the border. Indian Army is all prepared for winters if the Chinese Army wants to stay and planning is being done for the safety of soldiers during the early summers when the snow starts melting.