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Indian Troops Preparing for Tough Winter Along China Border

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: November 10, 2021
GAGANGIR, KASHMIR, INDIA - SEPT. 2: Indian army convoy carrying reinforcements and supplies drive towards Leh, on a highway bordering China, on Sept. 2, 2020 in Gagangir, India. (Image: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

With the winter season approaching, the Indian Army is preparing enough supplies for its soldiers stationed along the Chinese border. Tensions between the two superpowers have spiked in recent years, with both deploying armies at the border areas.

In an interview with Defense News, a senior official from the Indian army stated that they are deploying troops, support equipment, and weaponry on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the eastern Ladakh region to counter the Chinese military’s presence. 

Approximately 50,000 troops are already present at the border. India has also deployed Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, Igla-S air defense systems, Akash air defense systems, battle tanks, and high-mobility vehicles in the region.

The Indian army, one of the largest in the world, plans to provide support equipment and weapons maintenance to the troops. But the winter has them worried. Winter supplies, clothing, medical provisions, ammunition, petrol, kerosene, etc. are being prepared for the soldiers.

According to retired Maj. Gen. Amrit Pal Singh, a single soldier requires a stockpile of 80 items to get through the tough season. In total, the entire land force on the border would need half a million supplies during this time of the year. It is estimated that the army will have to spend roughly $15,000 per soldier between October and March.

“Singh estimated that about 10 tons of supplies delivered by truck costs roughly $1,500, whereas a one-hour flight of a C-17 aircraft carrying 50 tons costs about $345,000. Service officials said the Indian Army has spent about $100 million to establish several hundred camps with adequate electricity, water, heating, and other facilities; some of those camps are based near the border across the eastern Ladakh region,” Defense News states.

New Delhi’s decision to beef up border security comes as Beijing is aggressively infringing into Indian territory. A recently published report by the Pentagon stated that China is taking “incremental and tactical actions” to further its claims at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Beijing is also worried that border tensions might push India closer to the United States.

Last year, China constructed 100 civilian villages in disputed territory between the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Tibetan region. “These and other infrastructure development efforts along India-China border have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media,” the Pentagon report stated.

According to security expert Brahma Chellaney, China’s trade with India rose by over 32 percent between January and October this year despite the two nations being at conflict in the Himalayas. For the first time, bilateral trade crossed $100 billion. He criticized Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being reluctant to impose “substantive costs” on China as it allows Beijing to “have its cake and eat it too.”

In a tweet, Chellaney pointed out that India should consider imposing “calibrated trade and diplomatic sanctions” on China to stop Beijing from its “frenzied militarization” of the Himalayas and force it to vacate land grabs in Ladakh.

“Such action is also necessary for India to build leverage in its negotiations with China that have failed to defuse the 18-month-long border crisis. China never hesitates to employ its leverage. Where will the requisite Indian leverage over China come from without punitive steps?” Chellaney said.