New Delhi: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has rotated its troops posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh as both India and China beef up positions for the gruelling winter, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the PLA has carried out a full rotation, which means new troops were brought in rather than just a regular transfer of troops.
A usual rotation means soldiers posted at the front are moved back, and those in the second tier are deployed forward. The troops in reserve are sent in as second tier protection. The cycle keeps repeating.
Sources said the Chinese have been rotating troops in a much shorter time-frame than the Indian Army, but refused to divulge information on when the latest rotation took place.
Moreover, almost all the soldiers deployed by the PLA at the forward points along the LAC for the winter are in their early 20s, a move seeking to ensure that they can take on the harshness of the climate, the sources said.
The current rotation of troops (new battalions) happened with all communication systems switched off to minimise the chances of tracking, added the sources. The PLA also laid huge emphasis on setting up medical infrastructure to ensure that the troops are taken care of as winter in eastern Ladakh can be punishing.
Last winter saw the PLA troops remain deployed in forward positions along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for the first time.
India prepared too
The Indian Army and the Air Force have also ensured huge logistics support for the nearly 30,000 troops that remain deployed in eastern Ladakh.
Sources said all specialised shelters that were made last year for the winter deployment have been beefed up, and logistics have been taken care of.
The logistics include rations, specialised fuel, and ammunition and other support systems.
Last week, the Army and Air Force carried out Operation Hercules, a high intensity airlift, to strengthen the logistics supply in the northern sector and augment winter stocking in the operational areas.
C-17, IL-76 and An-32 were the platforms used for the airlift. This was also a signal on how additional troops and equipment can be quickly deployed if needed, sources said.
Sources said emphasis has also been laid on underground hardened storages, which can withstand any kind of assault, and on increasing the number of repair facilities of various equipment.
As reported by ThePrint, it is not only the Army which is deployed at forward locations. The IAF has its personnel deployed at multiple locations along the LAC for operating surveillance radars and air defence systems.
The Army has also carried out major changes to its Order of Battle and Command structure to take care of the LAC.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)