Maintaining troops on LAC 

#GS3 #Defence&Security #Army 

Indian Army has moved three extra Army divisions to the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh to mirror the Chinese build-up. Let us see why is it so challenging to remain in the harsh conditions near LAC? 

Why is it so challenging? 

  • The eastern Ladakh region is a high-altitude desert, where temperatures can drop to -20°C. The thinner air at high altitudes also makes breathing tougher. 

What is the cost? 

  • Cost of keeping one soldier there, starting from buying of matches to his condiments, to his food, to his fuel for warming to his shelter to everything, for one turnaround year is easily at least to the tune of Rs 10 lakh. 

Issues of transportation 

  • By road transport or through aerial trips. Land supply routes are open only during the summer, with high-altitude passes covered in snow from around November to March-April. 
  • There are two road accesses to Ladakh from Srinagar – Rohtang Pass and Zoji La.  
  • But neither is open round the year. With Rohtang tunnel likely to open later in the year, it can potentially solve the problem, but there are two more passes on that route, Baralacha La and Thanglang La, both of which are at a higher altitude than Rohtang, and may be snowed in during the winter. 

Specialised equipment 

  • For high altitudes, the Army procures specialised equipment to keep troops warm and ready for possible health issues. 
  • Anything above 14,000 feet is considered super-high altitude. Of the four friction points in the standoff, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra Post are higher than 14,000 feet. 
  • Depsang Plains — where troops were not involved in a face-off but where India’s access to traditional patrol points has been blocked by China — is higher than 17,000 feet. 
  • For such altitudes, the Army provisions for Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME). It includes ropes, special helmets, snow boots, jackets etc.Each soldier posted to Siachen is issued two sets, each costing over Rs 2 lakh. 
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