‘6,000 Trucks, Underground Fuel Dumps, Diesel That Remains Unfrozen’: How Indian Army Is Preparing For Winters In Ladakh
Here’s how the Indian Army is preparing for the harsh winters in Ladakh amid tensions with China.
With little to no movement towards disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh, where India and China are currently locked it the most serious military standoff in over four decades, the Indian Army has been making arrangements to remain deployed throughout the winter season.
India, this detailed report in The Print says, has brought in over 40,000 additional troops and equipment to Ladakh from other parts of the country. In order to sustain this large deployment of men and machines in this desolate terrain, which has no all-weather road connection with the rest of India, the Indian Army is undertaking a massive logistics operation to stock supplies that it may need.
Apart from a large number of transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, like the US-built C-17s and C-130Js and the Russin-built IL-76s, India has deployed as many as 6,000 Army trucks to move supplies such as fuel and food to Ladakh.
Fuel, required for all military equipment in Ladakh — from heaters to tanks and, is being moved to Ladakh and stored in underground dumps in the region. Each of these dumps has the capacity to store four lakh liters of fuel. Over the last few years, India has built multiple underground fuel dumps in Ladakh.
A special winter-grade diesel and kerosene, that remains unfrozen up to -33 degree Celsius, is being stored in Ladakh for used during the harsh winters. This special grade of fuel had been launched by the Indian Oil Corporation last year.
“The heaters use kerosene and, hence, it is very important. The Army has also moved a large number of...and tanks into Ladakh besides a host of other vehicles and others that need fuel. We have tie-ups with all the oil companies and there is no dearth of supply,” the report quotes a source as saying.
The Army not only needs to bring in fuel and ration to Ladakh and store it, but also disburse it to its posts and camps in the forward areas. In many cases, this has to be done by air using Army and Air Force helicopters.
Given that a large number of helicopters and fighters are flying around in the region, India is setting up mobile Air Traffic Control (ATC) units to ensure an efficient and smooth flow of air traffic over Ladakh.
“These mobile ATCs look like the OB vans of television news channels,” the report says, adding that similar ATC units are also available in Siachen.
As all surface sources of fresh water freeze during the winters, the Army has engaged geologists to look for underground sources of water.
The experience that India has gained with winter deployments along the Line of Actual Control with China and the Line of Control with Pakistan (not to forget, the year-round deployments in Siachen) and the SOPs put in place over the years have helped undertake this massive logistical operation.
The army has stocked up high-energy ration, and the jawans have been given special winter clothing and prefabricated tents to survive the winters.
“We are prepared for the winter. There could be some small logistics issues here and there, but our boys are ready for any eventuality. With time, these small issues will also be taken care of,” a source has been quoted as saying.
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