Saturday, November 18, 2023

What are some unique challenges faced by soldiers stationed at high altitudes in remote areas?

This glacier runs from 12,000 feet through 18.000 feet.  And you so want to be roped together on that glacier.

Amusingly, some folks chose to send a drilling crew once up to 12,000 feet on a property in colorado.  Somehow sand got into the fuel.  And back in the day, a client, a former pilot, asked me what was wrong with the Galactic mine property.  I told him to look at the elevation.

Here you get a taste of just how difficult and dangerous it is.  Even after adjustment, you must go slo mo.

it is interesting that igloos have been adopted there..

An Indian Army Veteran Mon

What are some unique challenges faced by soldiers stationed at high altitudes in remote areas?

Since I have served at Siachen Glacier, I shall share my experience.

Hypothermia is a soldiers biggest enemy. To combat that, we have two weeks of pre-induction training prior to the units occupying the area. In addition there is a specific period of acclimatization, to get the soldiers used to the environment. Even after that, troops are advised to take it very slow while walking.

 Their is a famous old saying, ‘In the land of Lama, don’t be a Gama’.

There is strict medical checkup of each and every soldier prior to induction.

To avoid snow blindness, they are required to keep their sun glasses on all the time when they are outdoors.

To avoid Chilblain, they are issued with 12 pairs of special woolen socks, which they are required to change periodically. Otherwise the sweat generated inside shall turn to ice and damage limbs and appendages.

Soldiers at Siachen and other such places, are not allowed to remove their clothing, and hence they do not bathe or change their undergarments for the entire period. The only time their body is exposed is during ablution. They are not even allowed to shave to avoid metal bite.

Liquor is not permitted to avoid Hypothermia. They are substituted with high calory drinks and juices.

These rules are self imposed, no one has to monitor them. As officers we have to ensure that our men follow the rules in letter and spirit.

They lose appetite, despite the fact that there is plethora of high calory diet in the form of juices, syrups, dry fruits etc. They crave for fresh food, and eagerly look forward to the fresh supply periodically.

Special clothing is issued to all ranks. These are top of the line Finnish products, one of the best in the world. No compromise is made in the quality. They are not even recycled, every soldiers gets a fresh pair upon induction. The enclosed picture shall give the readers an idea of the quality of clothing.

There are a plethora of environmental challenges, the biggest being Crevasses. What is worse is that they get covered after a fresh snowfall, and often take the soldiers by surprise. That is why a body of troops shall always be toggled with one another in such areas.

In our time there was no communication with the family for the entire duration except letters, which were most eagerly awaited. Now, I believe micro towers have come up in the area, and Satellite Phones are available to the troops.

There is a strict rotation of troops, by date, not even an hour extra. Some areas have one year rotation, some six months, and some of the toughest ones only three months. Within the areas, there are certain posts which have only one month of rotation. There are extra RMOs posted to these units who are also trained similarly, and are available on the posts.

There are snow scooters available to ferry the rations and other loads.

Earlier there were snow tents for accommodation, now Igloos have been constructed at quite a few places.

Come what may, our valiant soldiers have been occupying those icy heights since 1984, and de-induction is not envisaged in the near future

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