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  India   All India  14 Apr 2024  India remembers Siachen ops on 40th year

India remembers Siachen ops on 40th year

Published : Apr 14, 2024, 1:50 am IST
Updated : Apr 14, 2024, 1:50 am IST

Alongside Army’s efforts, IAF played crucial role in Operation Meghdoot

Indian soldiers salute in front of a coffin with the remains of Indian soldier Chander Shekhar, who went missing 38 years ago on a glacier on the disputed border with Pakistan, in Leh. (AFP)
 Indian soldiers salute in front of a coffin with the remains of Indian soldier Chander Shekhar, who went missing 38 years ago on a glacier on the disputed border with Pakistan, in Leh. (AFP)

New Delhi: India commemorates 40 years since the launch of Operation Meghdoot, a critical mission to secure the strategic heights of the Siachen glacier, acknowledged as the highest battlefield in the world.

The Siachen glacier at the height of around 20,000 feet is located in the Karakoram mountain range, where soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds.

It is stated that Pakistani control of Siachen would have allowed them to monitor Indian military activity in Ladakh. It would also unite the Chinese and Pakistani fronts and allow them to launch a combined attack on India in case of a conflict.

“The Indian Army's control over the Siachen glacier has not only been a story of unparalleled valour and determination but also an incredible journey of technological advancements and logistical improvements that transformed it from one of the most formidable terrains into a symbol of indomitable spirit and innovation,” said an Army official.

Alongside the Indian Army's efforts, the Indian Air Force (IAF) played a crucial role in this operation, beginning April 13, 1984. The operation involved the IAF airlifting Indian Army soldiers to the glacial peaks.

The induction of heavy-lift helicopters and logistic drones, deployment of all-terrain vehicles and laying of an extensive network of tracks are among a host of measures that have enhanced India's combat prowess in Siachen, officials said.

Another official said innovations like the DRDO-developed ATV bridges have enabled the Army to overcome natural obstacles, while high-quality “Dyneema” ropes in aerial cableways ensure seamless supply lines to even the most-remote outposts.

“The availability of special clothing, mountaineering equipment and advanced rations has enhanced the ability of the soldiers to withstand the harsh conditions of the world's coldest battlefield,” the official added.

He said gadgets, such as pocket weather trackers, with each soldier provides timely weather updates and warn them about possible avalanches.

“Recent initiatives concerning the improvement of connectivity have ensured that the personnel in forward posts in the northern and central glacier regions have access to fresh ration and vegetables instead of tinned ration, an aspect that could not have been imagined a few years ago,” the official said.

Initially, operating Chetak helicopters since 1978, the IAF's involvement intensified with Operation Meghdoot. In response to Pakistan's aggressive manouvres in the Ladakh region, India acted swiftly to secure Siachen's peaks and passes. The IAF's tactical and strategic airlifters transported troops and supplies, defying altitude and temperature constraints.

Helicopters ferried personnel and materials to dizzying heights, exceeding manufacturer limits.

As Pakistan reacted, the Indian Army maintained strategic positions, gaining a tactical edge. Over the years, the IAF's role expanded, with fighter aircraft deployed for air superiority. Fighter sweeps and simulated strikes bolstered troop morale and deterred adversaries. In 2013, a C-130J Super Hercules landed at Daulat Beg Oldie, the world's highest airstrip.

Today, a diverse fleet including Chinook, Apache, and ALH Mk III operates in support of Operation Meghdoot, serving as a lifeline, ensuring troop connectivity and facilitating logistics and medical evacuations. Amidst harsh conditions, the IAF continues to demonstrate exceptional endurance, flying, and technical prowess, sustaining this four-decade-long military operation.

In January last year, Captain Shiva Chauhan from the Army's Corps of Engineers was posted at a frontline post in the Siachen glacier, in the first such operational deployment of a woman Army officer at a key battlefield.


Tags: siachen glacier, indian army, operation meghdoot
Location: India, Delhi