TEMPERATURES IN EASTERN Ladakh have dipped to -20 degrees Celsius, but the spirit of the Indian Army is soaring. Apart from keeping a check on enemy troops, Indian soldiers are guarding themselves from the fierce Himalayan winter.
Extreme winter clothing, sleeping bags, highly nutritious food, drinking water, kerosene—these are some of the basic items that soldiers in 8x8ft bunkers on the Rezang La heights need to survive. To fight, he needs compact battle kits containing weapons, ammunition and communication equipment.
With more than 50,000 troops deployed on the India-China border—the biggest such deployment since 1962—the Army is looking for ways to ride out the harsh winter. Defence scientists are offering multiple solutions to keep soldiers fighting fit for high-altitude warfare. Laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are looking at ways to reduce the acclimatisation period of troops and help soldiers keep themselves mentally and physically fit.
In early October, a team of DRDO scientists visited the Army’s 14 Corps headquarters in Leh. They proposed more than two dozen winter-gear accessories and other inventory that would help soldiers survive extreme weather conditions. The proposals include a high-altitude water purification system, oxygen-enriched shelters, space heating devices, sleeping bags that can be used at -50 degrees Celsius, high-nutrition quercetin bars and solar-powered shelters.
Ladakh has low oxygen levels and extreme weather. According to defence scientists, the atmosphere in eastern Ladakh, which is 15,000ft above sea level on an average, can have adverse physiological, psychological and hormonal affects that can lead to acute mountain sickness, high-altitude pulmonary oedema and high-altitude cerebral oedema. At present, the Army follows an 11-day acclimatisation regimen for its troops, done in three stages at different altitudes (9,000ft, 12,000ft and 15,000ft).
Though the Indian Army has four decades of experience in deployment in Siachen, the number of troops deployed there is much less than the deployment in Ladakh this time. Three new approaches have been proposed to the Army to reduce the acclimatisation period and speed up deployment. Prior deployment of soldiers at a moderate altitude, putting them through intermittent hypoxia (as training to survive in low-oxygen atmosphere) and providing oxygen shelters are the new methods.
Dr A.K. Singh, director-general of life sciences at DRDO, said maintaining optimal combat efficiency in extreme weather has for long been an objective for the Army. A similar rapid deployment, he said, was last attempted in 1999, during the Kargil war. “Our scientists are working with military doctors for enhancing troop acclimatisation by physical, physiological and psychological interventions,” said Dr Singh.
Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff in Ladakh since May. The deployment of troops in eastern Ladakh is being done on the lines of the Siachen pattern—a 90-day deployment cycle before a soldier is replaced by another one. Military strategists believe that, with the trust deficit between the two sides, large-scale deployment of troops will be the new normal on the Line of Actual Control.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
It is not just Big Tech which is coveting your data; there are larger powers at play
THE WONDER THAT IS KAMALA
The first Indian American and African American to be elected vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris is a true representative of American multiculturalism, which will define the country’s politics in the coming years. Her unique life story and flexible policy priorities make her the ideal choice to work with President Joe Biden to heal and unite a deeply divided United States
Joe Biden’s proposed cabinet looks truly representative of a multicultural America
TRIBUTE - Master of drapes
A few designers decode Satya Paul’s legacy and influence in fashion
The BJP wants to cage me again
AFTER HER release from detention last October, Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president, has been relentless in her attack on the BJP. She has also been active as vice president of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with THE WEEK:
Kamala Vilas and more
Your guide to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s new home, wheels, wings, offices and family
Hard long path to light
An apolitical look at which way the new presidency will move in its early years
Dose too far
It will take some time before non-priority groups get the vaccine
Although Biden attaches great importance to India-US ties, he will now be looking to make his foreign policy work for American people
Life Insurers Can Provide A Viable Pension Option
T.C. Suseel Kumar, managing director, Life Insurance Corporation of India
It wasn’t in my power to mend a broken heart, but I sent needle and thread, with chocolates for good measure
The Christmas Clock
It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits. But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.
A World War II veteran gravely ill with Covid-19, an Army social worker on his first deployment and the relationship they forged
NEW PROGRAM ALLOWS SOLDIERS TO INNOVATE FROM THE BOTTOM UP
In combat, U.S. Army Maj. Evan Adams is a tank officer responsible for leading intricate cavalry and reconnaissance operations.
Trolling for a Good Cause
Korean pop superfans set the stage for QAnon - then took the spotlight back
TOXIC MASCULINITY WHISKEY
While many veteran-owned businesses are small or fledgling, this one truly puts the start in “start-up.”
Cybersecurity Experts: Requesting Ballots By Email Is Safe
A group of leading cybersecurity experts told an Ohio court that absentee ballot applications can be safely transmitted using email, countering the secretary of state’s assertions that the practice would open up voting in the presidential battleground to outside interference.
Florida Polytechnic Researchers Develop Technology to Train Surgeons
US Cybercom Virtual War Game Girds Against Increased Threats
Foreign hackers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to undermine institutions and threaten critical infrastructure, a top U.S. military cyber official said.
DELETE THE ADJECTIVE
Being the First Means Carrying a Burden. Luckily, Strength is No Issue for Lisa Jaster, the First Female Reserve Graduate of the Elite U.S. Army Ranger School