LEH, India (Reuters) – By deploying mules for large transport aircraft, India’s military has activated its entire logistics network to transport thousands of troops for harsh winters along a disputed Himalayan border with China .
In recent months, one of India’s largest military logistics exercises has brought huge quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food to Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet which is a part of India. Administered as a union territory.
The move was initiated by a border-stand with China in the snowy desert of Ladakh starting in May and proceeded to join hands in June. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed, while China suffered an unknown number of casualties.
The two countries are negotiating to resolve the conflict, but neither side has supported. The Indian Army is now ready to keep troops deployed on treacherous, high-altitude ranges through the winter.
East Ladakh, where the flare-up occurs, is typically manned by 20,000–30,000 soldiers. But a military official said that the number of deployments has more than doubled.
“We have reflected the increase of Chinese troops,” the official said, adding the Indian Army was well-prepared, but did not want to advance or struggle for long.
Officials said temperatures in Ladakh could fall below freezing, and troops were often deployed at altitudes of 15,000 feet.
Since at least four months of snow in winter passes every year in Ladakh, Indian military planners have already taken more than 150,000 tons of material.
Major General Arvind Kapoor, chief of staff of the 14 Corps of the Indian Army, said, “Any supplies we need are pushed in advance.”
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On Tuesday morning, a succession of large transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force landed on a forward base in Ladakh, carrying men and materials, as fighter jets roared overhead.
Soldiers with a backpack were moved out and examined for COVID-19 symptoms at a transit facility, where they were awaiting further transport.
The material is stored in a network of logistics centers.
At a fuel, oil and lubricant depot near Leh, the main city of Ladakh, a hill was covered with a cluster of green drums.
At storage facilities at the nearby supply depot, boxes and ration sacks – including pistachios, instant noodles and Indian curries – stood in long piles. At another base near Leh, tents, heaters, winter clothes and high-altitude equipment are housed.
From these depots, materials are pushed into logistics nodes by trucks, helicopters and, in some particularly difficult parts, mules, officials said.
Kapoor said, “In a place like Ladakh, operational logistics is of great importance.” “In the last 20 years, we have mastered it.”
Reporting by Devjit Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Richard Chang