China’s defence ministry has made high-tech arrangements for soldiers posted at high altitudes in preparation for a possible war, as per the report in Hindustan Times. Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Colonel Wu Qian has indicated that China is heading for a long haul in the border areas.
Speaking at a defence ministry briefing, Wu reportedly said: “Logistics Support Department of the Central Military Commission (China’s highest military body headed by President Xi Jinping) and other relevant departments have innovated and applied high-tech means to improve the training and living conditions of officers and men in the plateau and alpine climate”.
China has introduced a new type of self-powered heat preserving shelter, which can guarantee indoor temperature to be higher than 15 degrees centigrade even in areas with an outdoor temperature of -40 degrees centigrade and an altitude of over 5,000 metres.
Furthermore, amid the six-month stand-off with India, the People’s Liberation Army troops in Ladakh region have been reportedly provided with “individual sleeping bags, down training coats and cold-proof boots, characterized by cold prevention and heat retention, portability and higher comfortableness, which have been specifically designed for alpine cold areas”.
Meanwhile, the new thermal insulation devices for food storage and new-type outdoor instant foods for alpine cold areas are under trial, as per the report.
As per Wu, the troops are using the newly-developed insulated vegetable cellars with moisture-proof, anti-freeze, and fresh-keeping functions. They are also using UAVs to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to duty posts to overcome the inconvenience in materials replenishment.
“The logistic support capabilities are directly connected with the combat effectiveness. The application of high-tech means will facilitate the construction of logistic support capacity and promote the troops’ war preparation work,” Wu was quoted in the Hindustan Times report.
The PLA has commissioned new and precision-based weapons and upgraded winter clothes and permanent barracks for its troops. China is focusing on arming PLA troops with light, precision-based infantry weapons along with heavy artillery.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Line of Actual Control, reports are emerging that Chinese troops have transgressed into Indian territory and occupied positions in Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Tso (lake).
Former BJP Member of Parliament Thupstan Chhewang has told The Hindu that as per the information received from locals living in forward areas, Indian soldiers were living in tents, which is not adequate for them in sub-zero conditions.
Chhewang said, “The border situation is critical. The Chinese troops have not only further transgressed into our areas but they have also occupied prominent positions in Finger 2 and 3 areas of Pangong Tso, even Hot Springs area they have not fully vacated… this is what we have come to know from locals.”
Earlier, it was reported that China had ingressed about 8km in the Finger area and since April last week, India has not been able to patrol beyond Finger 4. Other hotspots of military build-up are the Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs and the south bank of Pangong Tso in Chushul.
In September, Indian troops had managed to occupy the strategically-important and disputed Rechin La, also known as the Reqin Pass in the western sector of the China-India border, overlooking a crucial Chinese camp at Moldo. The satellite images have confirmed that India is still holding further positions in the upper areas of Pangong Tso.
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To further add to the military readiness for war, China has been undertaking wide-scale infrastructure development along the 4,057 km Line of Actual Control, which will make the border areas easy to access.
India on the other side has brought in over 40,000 additional troops and equipment to Ladakh and the Indian Army is undertaking a massive logistics operation to stock supplies that it may need. The area has no all-weather road connection with the rest of India.
There are reports of the Indian government has acquired 11,000 extreme cold gear sets from the US army. Using the pact of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (Lemoa), signed in 2016, India last month acquired the urgently needed high-altitude systems for soldiers deployed to forward areas along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
Lemoa agreement gives the two nations access to each other’s military and civil facilities for repairs, supplies and refuelling and has earlier been used during war games and occasional refuelling of ships and aircraft.
As per a source from defence and security establishment quoted in The Print “India is prepared for the winter, “except for some small logistics issues here and there, the boys are ready for any eventuality”. China’s state-owned media Global Times had run several stories claiming that the Indian Army will not be able to withstand harsh winter in the absence of required equipment for subzero temperature.
However, earlier in October, a spokesman of the Northern Command told the Tribune: “Altitudes in Ladakh range from high to super-high altitude and there is a lot of snowfall, after the month of November up to 40 feet of snow is experienced. Coupled with this, temperature dipping down to minus 30-40 degrees is a usual phenomenon. The wind chill factor makes matters even worse for the troops. The roads also get closed due to the snow.”
But despite all this, the most encouraging part for India is that the Indian soldiers have a huge experience of winter warfare and are psychologically tuned to operate at short notice, he said.