Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Siachen Tragedy: The Trauma Is Real, But It’s Vital To Our Interests

In the early hours of 3 February, a major avalanche struck the Army post in Northern Siachen Glacier trapping 10 soldiers who have been reported to be dead. Lt. Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd.) narrates the experience of the troops stationed there.

Ten more good men down; victims of Siachen Glacier’s unpredictable climatic and terrain dynamics. 19 Madras, to which the soldiers belonged, is as good a unit as any from the Indian Army’s Infantry. I have always admired these soldiers from the only infantry regiment of purely South Indian troops.

Far from any perception that may prevail that South Indians may not be great fighters in high altitude and glaciated terrain these units prove just the opposite. Climatic and terrain based accidents occur in the glacier with a regularity and unpredictability.

Luck more than anything else plays a major role in survival here. Equipment and training is in plenty but the glacier needs more than just that for survival. A few things need to be placed in perspective for the public to glean what glaciated operations really mean. And I won’t start the traditional way, by relating how Siachen became an issue between India and Pakistan

The Siachen Glacier, 75 Km in length, is a river of frozen snow/ice, many hundreds of feet deep. Its ‘snout’ is where the base camp of the Indian Army is. It is not really flat but compared to the high mountains on its flanks it is almost like a table top. The Army occupies the Glacier with its bases, smaller camps, headquarters and artillery gun positions.

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