Indian Army has the world’s most competent mountain division trained for high-altitude warfare, a Chinese military expert has acknowledged adding that mountaineering is an “essential skill” for each Indian soldier deployed in the mountains.
The world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India,” wrote Huang Guozhi, for Modern Weaponry magazine.
The appreciation comes in the backdrop of India-China border clashes along the line of actual control (LAC) in the rugged Ladakh region. Huang’s article is a rare recognization of Indian Army’s prowess published by a Chinese media which generally boasts about its own capabilities.
Mountaineering is an indispensable part for almost every soldier of the Indian mountain division. Huang also claimed that the Indian Army even recruited a large number of professional and amateur mountaineers from the private sector.
With more than 200,000 troops in 12 divisions, the Indian mountain division is the largest high-altitude battalion in the world. Huang said that since the 1970s, the Indian army has developed and increased the size of the mountain division battalion and is also working to a mountain strike force of more than 50,000 soldiers.
Citing the example of the Siachen Glacier, Huang said: ‘The Indian army has set up hundreds of outposts in the Siachen Glacier area with an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, with 6,000 to 7,000 fighters stationed. The highest post has reached 6,749 metres.”
“In terms of equipment, the Indian army, through procurement from overseas and domestic research and development, has outfitted a large number of main battle weapons adapted to the combat environment of the plateau and mountains.”
“The Indian military has also spent massively on advanced heavy equipment from the US including the M777, the world’s lightest 155mm-towed howitzer, and the Chinook heavy transport helicopter that lifts the gun, to boost its fire support and anti-armour capabilities”.
Huang also mentioned the high-calibre sniper rifles that Indian soldiers deployed at high-altitudes are now equipped with. He also wrote about the deficiencies of the Indian army mountain troops including lack of self-sufficiency in weaponry and ammunition especially needed for western weaponry.