As Military gears up for lengthy LAC winter, give attention to water, bedding

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 29

As New Delhi and Beijing brace for winter showdown along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, a review conducted by the Indian security establishment has found that sheltering troops in extreme cold and ensuring continued potable water supply were two issues that required greater attention.

A list of immediate essentials has been shared with the Army headquarters as some 45,000 troops have to be accommodated, much higher than the 10,000 stationed along the 826-km LAC in Ladakh in peacetime. Normally, patrolling is done as per fixed schedule while majority of troops are at fully furnished bases where heated accommodation with bunker-type beds exists.

With additional troops, habitat is being created on a war footing and “arctic” tents are being provided. Sources said the review was done to assess what all was needed.

The cold desert of Ladakh has military deployments at an altitude of 13,000 feet. In summer months, ample water flows in rivers, including Indus, Shyok, Galwan, Chang Chenmo and Chip-Chap. Barring Indus, all of them freeze in winter.

The night temperature is already touching minus 5 degrees and will plunge up to minus 20 in some days.

The drinking water in places like Siachen is sourced from natural snow. But unlike Siachen, eastern Ladakh doesn’t have abundant snow.

Clothing and boots have been sourced in multiple pairs as these tend to get wet in snow. The other task is to feed the troops. The calorie intake has been calculated as the per a Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences study. The daily per-person energy requirements in high altitude (over 12,000 feet) vary between 4,270 and 4,550 calories.

The ration list allows the battalion commander to get what his troops may like to eat as culinary tastes vary across India. Troops operating in high-altitude areas suffer from anorexia, says the study. There will be an increased supply of fresh vegetables, fruits, chicken, meat, eggs and even chocolates and energy bars. These will be supplied by air from Chandigarh, the logistics base for Ladakh.

Temperature already -5°C

  • Some 45,000 troops have to be accommodated along the 826-km LAC in Ladakh
  • The count is much higher compared to 10,000 troops stationed in peacetime
  • Additional habitat is being created on a war footing; arctic tents are being provided
  • Minimum temp has already touched -5°C and will plunge up to -20 in some days
  • Potable water is an issue as most of the rivers freeze during winter months

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