NEW DELHI: The Indian Army on Monday began an exercise of its highly specialised troops of the Airborne Shatrujeet Brigade (50 Parachute Brigade) along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh which happens to be the zone where they are locked in protracted standoffs with the Chinese PLA.
“The Shatrujeet Brigade of Indian Army is conducting an Airborne insertion along the Northern Borders in Eastern Ladakh to validate its Rapid Response Capabilities, as part of an Airborne exercise and combat manoeuvres,” a source said.
The exercise is a part of an overall three-day affair focusing on high altitude area Airborne Exercise along Northern Borders. Other arms and services are also participating.
“The exercise also involves the conduct of Oxygen Combat Free Fall jumps and integrated battle drills by Airborne forces, mechanised columns and attack helicopters, validating capabilities and seamless integration.” added the source quoted above.
Talking about the first day of the exercise the sources said, “On 01 November 2021, Airborne troops were inserted to a Drop Zone at an altitude of more than 14000 feet. Pre-acclimatised troops along with specialist vehicles and missile detachments were transported via C-130 and AN 32 aircrafts from five different mounting bases to validate inter-theatre move, precision stand-off drops, rapid grouping & capture of designated objectives with speed & surprise.”
The exercise being conducted is challenging keeping the low temperatures of up to minus 20 degrees and rarefied atmosphere in super high-altitude terrain.
The elements of the brigade have the flexibility and can be inserted, even behind the enemy lines, and gives strategic reach and operational mobility, added another source.
Viewing the exercise as important Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd) said, “It’s a very effective deterrence capability and a threat-in-being China’s aggressive behaviour along LAC.” Lt General Bhatia is himself a paratrooper and was the DG Military Operations of the Army.
The situation along the Line of Actual Control changed with Chinese troops engaging in a standoff in May 2020. Keeping the change in situation Indian Army conducted a precautionary deployment all along the LAC. Although there has been disengagement from the standoff points at Galwan, Gogra and North and South Banks of Pangong Lake the situation remains precarious. The standoffs continue at Hotspring, Depsang and Demchok.
Though the troops have disengaged they have retreated back and around 60,000 troops from each side continue deployed near the 832-kilometre-long LAC in Ladakh. The Chinese showed disagreement with the Indian suggestions regarding the resolution during the 13th round of Corps Commanders meeting held on October 10. This meeting was held after a gap of two months.
The deployments of the forces along with their tanks, artillery, heavy equipment and missiles along the Eastern Ladakh are being viewed to be for a long time. Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane said in October, "It is a matter of concern that there is a large scale build-up taking place....there has been infrastructural build-up by the Chinese side and that means they are there to stay...If they are there to stay, we are there to stay too.”.