India further bolsters logistics & winter stocking in eastern Ladakh

(C) Provided by The Times of India

NEW DELHI: With Indian and Chinese troops remaining forward deployed along the frontier in eastern Ladakh for the second successive winter, India is further bolstering the logistics supply and stocking to the high-altitude region. Towards this end, a joint airlift exercise called ‘Operation Hercules’ was undertaken by the IAF and Army on Monday, with five C-17 Globemaster-III aircraft along with IL-76 and AN-32 planes from Chandigarh and other places to Ladakh. “The aim of the high-intensity airlift was to strengthen the logistics supply in the northern sector and to augment winter stocking in the operational areas,” said an IAF officer.

“The effort was a real-time demonstration of the IAF’s inherent heavy lift capability, which has played a major role in ensuring the ability to quickly respond to any contingency during the past,” he added. After the military confrontation with China erupted in eastern Ladakh in April-May last year, the IAF had supported the Army in the rapid mobilisation of troops and equipment to operational areas. The Army earlier this month had also conducted a major three-day “airborne insertion and combat” exercise in eastern Ladakh, with hundreds of pre-acclimatized troops and heavy weapon systems being para-dropped at an altitude of over 14,000-feet amidst minus 20 degree celsius temperatures.

There is a deadlock so far in resolving the 18-month-long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, with China refusing to even complete the stalled troop disengagement at Patrolling Point-15 in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area in the 13th round of corps commander-level talks on October 10.

With any de-escalation in the much more intractable face-offs at Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction at Demchok and the strategically-located Depsang Plains also not on the horizon, India and China will keep their 50,000 troops each along with tanks, howitzers and surface-to-air missile systems forward deployed for the second winter in the harsh high-altitude area.