Manning the Siachen Glacier

Y I Patel
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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Y I Patel » 01 Jul 2003 23:33

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. But in all humility, I must point out that nothing I say is original - ever. Call it ingrained training, but I have to have some backup for whatever I say. In this case, let me post some bookmarked articles that are a must read for anyone who wants to comment on Siachen.

As an additional request, can someone post a URL to the Outside magazine article that has been quoted in this thread? If someone has an archived copy of the previous Siachen thread, that would be appreciated too!

Regarding the shelling of base camp by Pak arty and the need to move the base camp, we have none other than the official Mily rag Sainik Samachar saying this:

"A Bridge to Siachen"
http://mod.nic.in/samachar/html/ch9.htm

Gaurav Sawant gives details about a new road connecting Chalunka to Siachen base camp and "Souther Glacier". Now this may seem like just another report, until you pour over a map and realise that Chalunka is in Shyok valley and base camp is in Nubra Valley. Then, if you can imagine the terrain, you go :)

Surya
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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Surya » 02 Jul 2003 00:22

YIP you liar.

I could read the same things and not come to your conclusions. Thats your skill. :D

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 00:56

Gaurav Sawant gives details about a new road connecting Chalunka to Siachen base camp

Gaurav Sawant gives the length of the road as 32KM. That does not make sense. Chalunka to Siachen base camp has to be more than that.

Chalunka to Partapur or Thoise might be that distance.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Y I Patel » 02 Jul 2003 01:34

Surya saab yeh kya keh rahen hain? How would I do it without help from folks like you?

Biswa: you are right, unless...

hold up your right hand with the "V" sign, palm outwards. Your fingers are the Shyok and Nubra Valleys, with a spur of Saltoro Range in between. The top joint on your index finger is Chalunka, the top joint on your middle finger is Siachen base camp. So at first read I had the same disbelieving sensation. But read more into it, and look at some maps. As Sawant says, there is a track leading up from slightly west of Chalunka, up to a base in the Southern Glacier. And the road is going to be damn expensive... so maybe they are building along that track, over the spur of the Saltoro Range! Now I may be wrong in this, so that's where Ray sahab should step in and say if my interpretation is wrong. But if I am correct, it will cut the road journey from Partapur to Base Camp from several days (> 1 week) to less than one day!

Here's another must read article about the current nature of battle at Siachen. I belive bishwa referred to this in one of his posts.

HIMALAYAN CONFLICT FORGES ARTILLERY DOCTRINE
by Praveen Sawhney (in his non BS avatar)
http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Articles/Article06.html

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 01:58

As Sawant says, there is a track leading up from slightly west of Chalunka, up to a base in the Southern Glacier

That could be the Chalunka - Turtuk track. Turtuk is to the west. Siachen base camp is to the north east. He talks of the "adjacent Haneefuddin sector." That is in the general area of Turtuk IIRC. This particular road could be close to NJ9846.

so maybe they are building along that track, over the spur of the Saltoro Range!

Well if that is what it is hats off to BRO/Army. Would be extraordinary given the terrain.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby member_5579 » 02 Jul 2003 02:34

Originally posted by Ashutosh:
Absolutely brilliant thread, and wonderful contributions from everybody! Thanks to all participants ... I am learning a lot ...

PS: Does anybody have a detailed map of the Siachen-Saltoro-Turtuk area? I seem to able to spot the major points like Bilafond La (Is this Bana Point?), Khapalu, Nubra and Shyok, but the other ones I just don't seem to be able to spot on any map I have. TIA.
I would like to have these maps too to better understand this discussion. Could somebody please post them or links to them? Please excuse my newbie ignorance. One of the best threads I've ever seen.
PS: Ashutosh, if you found it somewhere, could you please email me at vishal_patel@ureach.com?
Thanks a ton in advance.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Surya » 02 Jul 2003 03:15

ANd of course I should not forget bishwa - although I like to consider him our Neelam Valley expert :D

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Sunil » 02 Jul 2003 03:40

hi,

Harish Kapadia was part of an expedition to the glacier sometime in 1998. This expedition was the first to climb three peaks on the glacier. People on BR may remember Harish's son Nawang (3 GR) passed away in an CI operation in Kupwara on November 11,2000.

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/aug/16spec.htm

Details of Harish Kapadia's expedition (Rose Expedition) on the Siachen Glacier and related maps may be found at the Indian Mountaineering Foundation website.

http://www.indmount.org/imfsglacier.html (look under articles for the rest of it).

Bishwa,

Didn't see this before.

> Indira Col or Indira Pass.

iirc in mountaineering terms they are the same.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 03:46

Sunil,

I believe a pass and peak are different. I was under the impression Indira Col is a peak. As I said if it turns out to be a pass I am willing to be corrected. It certainly is a watershed.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Ashutosh » 02 Jul 2003 04:02

I found one map with some more details: http://www.indmount.org/Map_Siachen_Rose1998.jpg

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Ashutosh » 02 Jul 2003 06:15

Looks like the US Army maintains an extensive set of 1:250000 scale maps of India. One thing that is interesting is that the most important NJ43-16 portion that covers the Saltoro-Siachen-Karakoram area is missing from that collection (the NJ43-15 portion is available, though - till the Skamri and K2 North Glaciers and the Shaksgam river). However, members may access the rest of the maps from here (barf alert: each map is close to 3MB in size): http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/EART/india/250k.html

PS: BRF members having access to the UC Berkeley library might be able to obtain higher resolution print maps from there. I wonder if anybody could do this. One might also want to inquire about the NJ43-16 map. TIA for the same.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Ashutosh » 02 Jul 2003 06:49

What happened to manku's post? Anyways, the correct images are NI43-4 and NI43-8. Thanks to manku!

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby ehsmang » 02 Jul 2003 09:09

can someone draw a hand sketch ( and scan it) of the area so that all members are benfited.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby shiv » 02 Jul 2003 09:42

Let me chip in and say something to back Col Nair in one way.

One of his major concerns is PRIMARILY the human, and secondly the material cost of Siachen. All arguments against what Col. Nair has suggested, no matter how valid, still automatically accept - as a "given" the human and material cost.

Is there a new way? Can we plunge into new technologies and new methods?

Seriously, can we not spend a few thousand crore on surveillance and LGBs to protect unmanned peaks? Agreed - I reallise it's not as simple as that, but could we perhaps be ready to excalate and take out Pakistani forces well within their lines. That will be an escalation, but what Col Nair is suggesting is "new thinking" I have to admit that I am both naive and illiterate on this subject, but IMO we must look at keeping our boys, our babies while we let Pakistan lose whetever it wants to lose.

Let me briefly quote Ray's very interesting ratios 1:7 in mountains, 1:3 on the plains, vs the actual 1:1.12. I will not dispute the figures, but ask why these ratios were not required in either of the Gulf wars.

To the Army it may mean that funds allocated to the army will have to go to the air force, to take over the job that the army has been doing well, albeit with human losses.

Has anybody asked the Air Force whether and how they can help? Has anyone asked the Intel agencies/NRSA?whoever how they can help?

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby debjani » 02 Jul 2003 10:06

Shiv,

1. The fig 1:1.2 is the overall force ratio superiority we have against Pakistan.

2. To be successful in attack, in the HAA, we require 7:1. That is the attacker is to be 7 times the str of the defenders 1. The reasons are obvious since the HAA environment.
3. In the plains 3:1 is the formula for success.

These are percentages that have been arrived at by experience. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they are a guarantee. It does not cater for the intangible. For better mathematical approach to war one could read Brigadier Richard E Simpkins book ‘Race to the Swift’.

Now comes the question of the Gulf War. The ratio was much higher because the Americans didn’t want to leave the outcome ‘iffy’. It is their prerogative to kill a mosquito with a sledge hammer. Further, the Iraqis never fought. In fact, to be fair to all sides, unless more details get available it would not be correct to comment with authority. One can just guess.

In so far as use the air in a offensive role in this stalemate situation in Siachen, it will only escalate and add to the cost. Can anyone guarantee that the use of the Air Force will give us the Final Solution?

As far as the human factor is concerned, any conflict has the human cost. J&K itself is expensive in human costs including civilian live. Can we give up J&K? Some may say it is the best solution. No borders to man, no Siachen, no daily firfights. Human lives saved, No cost to the exchequer. Smaller armed forces etc etc

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby daulat » 02 Jul 2003 14:02

Originally posted by bishwa:
Sunil,

I believe a pass and peak are different. I was under the impression Indira Col is a peak. As I said if it turns out to be a pass I am willing to be corrected. It certainly is a watershed.

a col is not a peak. it is a 'shoulder' on the mountain - to one side of a peak, typically used to describe those at altitude - as such it would offer a relatively flat piece of land high up, e.g. South Col on Everest, etc.

Cols would be ideal for OP's, arty positions etc. I have no idea how big or flat Indira Col is, but imagine that it must be of some size to have a name and a position on it.

A pass could come off a col - all depends on the steepness/ruggedness on either side. Typically, its a gap in the ridgeline which allows fairly easy navigation from one side of the slope to the other and therefore would often have tracks/paths leading to and from - i would imagine that in military terms it offers a choke point or control point to allow/hinder movement

I would remind non-mountain familiar folks of the realities of big mountains: the severely debilitating effects of high altitudes - nausea, breathlessness, headaches, dizzyness, disorientation. Inability to move quickly or carry anything heavy. leave alone any additional problems such as dehydration, diarrohea, injuries from stumbling, twisting ankles, etc. - all highly possible in such rugged terrain. Never mind any battle casualties.

Then there is the lung bursting effort on the way up and the knee cracking pain on the way down - and yes, there is always up and down, never any flat. You might cover 10Kms and climb and descend 6,000ft in order to move 2kms along and 1,000 ft up! (on an easy day!). Unlike mountain people, us plainsfolks do not have the lung capacity, sturdy legs or elevated red corpuscle levels in our blood to really live at altitude, therefore we will suffer when we go up. And boy do we suffer! :)

Also, mere physical fitness alone does not qualify you for high altitude trekking/movement either - you need a significant amount of mental grit and tenacity, just to keep yourself moving sometimes. I have seen people trying to throw away their sleeping bags and water to reduce weight and supposed marathon runners flake out insisting that they be stretchered out! :) And this is all below 15,000 ft!! below the snowline! :)

And the worst thing is, even when you think you are ok and acclimitised, altitude sickness can creep up on you unawares. [Even Edmund Hillary suffered from it very severely in later life.]

so, commando forces, nimble, running hither and tither in this terrain doing a rambo are somewhat unlikely.

Ray - i was curious to read in your post that a man carries 15kg and a donkey 20kg. a 5kg advantage seems barely worth it? (yes, i know, every kg counts!) I imagined somehow that donkeys might carry twice a man's burden at least.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby debjani » 02 Jul 2003 14:35

Originally posted by Daulat:
Ray - i was curious to read in your post that a man carries 15kg and a donkey 20kg. a 5kg advantage seems barely worth it? (yes, i know, every kg counts!) I imagined somehow that donkeys might carry twice a man's burden at least.[/QUOTE]

_____________________________________________

Sad isnt it that donkeys are a wee bit better than even the 'rambo' [as per the BRF folks] Cdos?

Actually, even 1 kgs carried more than what I can carry is better!

All I can say is what the Americans say - Get Real!

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby daulat » 02 Jul 2003 15:32

the reality of 'get real' hit me when just taking my t-shirt off left me gasping for air as if I'd sprinted 100m! :) [it got a little better after a few days]

anyway - the views are fantastic once you get there! although i remember once getting the most bizzare vertigo (not normal for me) when descending through cloud forest amid steep ravines and being overtaken by an urge to leap off the side and soar like an eagle!! keep staring at the path, keep putting one foot in front of the other... :) at that point in time, if someone wanted to shoot me, I'd let them!

when panting on mountains i like to remind myself of hillary's famous words on descending from everest ... "well, we knocked the bast^%d off!"

ah yes, we haven't even discussed snow blindness yet! or driving wind that can blow a grown man with a heavy pack over. never mind blizzards, avalanches and such like - which i have never experienced personally, but i can assure you, would not want to. And once again, these experiences are well below the altitudes at Siachen. So I can only imagine how tough it must be for the men who have to serve there.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 02 Jul 2003 15:42

A better map on the peaks, ridges, glaciers, cols and what not is here

http://www.indmount.org/Map_Siachen_Rose1998.jpg

The following peaks/passes/cols are there that border the glacier

Sia Kangri, Sia La (Pass), Silver Throne, Ghent, Sherpa Kangri II, Sherpi Col, Saltaro Kangri II, Saltaro Kangri I, Bilafond La, K12, Gyong La.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 21:11

For those interested in stats:

The Indian Army maintains approx 110 posts on the saltoro. The number of troops on
each is different. Where 15 soldiers are occupying a post, another 25 are held in reserve below the post. Bana post can take a max of 9 only.

These stats are thanx to Maj Gen Ashok Mehta and Maj Praveen Shawney.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 21:31

Does anybody have an article on Siachen that Shekar Gupta did for India Today about a decade or decade and a half ago? It had some good color photographs of life in a post. He spent some time on a post there. It was one of the earliest articles on Siachen.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 02 Jul 2003 21:38

Originally posted by bishwa:
Does anybody have an article on Siachen that Shekar Gupta did for India Today about a decade or decade and a half ago? It had some good color photographs of life in a post. He spent some time on a post there. It was one of the earliest articles on Siachen.
Anything specific you are looking for? I do have it and can scan it over the coming weekend. Though I have to disagree if it was 'early' enough. IIRC it was in the 90s, while the TIME article on Siachen precedes it (from 89?).

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 02 Jul 2003 21:52

Jagan,
90s seem too late. Wondering if we are referring to the same article ? I can see the article
and confirm.

I am not looking for anything specific. Could you scan and post it? Else send it to my id.

Really appreciate it.
Thanx

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby ramana » 02 Jul 2003 21:56

Very good discussion. Here is link to Col Kumar's first expedition from an IDR article.

The Indian Army expedition 1981: To the Eastern Karakorams and back

YIP, I think I have the old issue of Outside I got from the local grocery store. will make copies and send by camel express!
-------------
Posting in full...

The Indian Army expedition 1981: To the Eastern Karakorams and back

A first-person account

Source : The Indian Defence Review, © 1995 by Lancer Publishers & Distributors.

Article Author : Colonel Narender Kumar PVSM, KC, AVSM, FRGS (Padam Shri) (Retd)

The great Karakoram Range forms the water parting between the rivers of the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. It is the highest watershed in the world.
This 400-mile long mountain range of Northwestern Ladakh got its name from the historic Karakoram Pass. Ironically, this pass does not lie on the main
Karakoram Range at all. Perhaps this name is derived from the capital of Chengez Khan's empire - City of Karakoram. The word Karakoram means 'Black Rock'
and there is no doubt that this range has plenty of incredibly sheer and rocky cliffs of shining granite which look more black than grey. In between the rocky
ridges lie the white troughs containing a galaxy of glaciers as can be found in no other part of the globe except the Arctic Circle. Some explorers have rightly
given this area the name Third Pole.

For the training of this yeaes advanced course of High Altitude Warfare School, I selected the Siachen Glacier, the Himalayas' largest and longest glacier. Our
team consisted of fifteen instructors and forty students.

Since Khardung La (18,300 feet), the highest motorable pass of the world (on Ladakh Range), was still closed due to heavy snow, the advance party flew into
the Nubra Valley from Srinagar. I, along with the main party, got to Leh (11,500 feet - same height as Lhasa) via the traditional Kargil road on the 8th of June.
We had already crossed three mountain ranges, the Pir Panjal, the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar Range and had come 400 km away from Srinagar.
Our destination lay another 300 km North of Leh and to get there we had to cross three more ranges: the Ladakh Range, Saltoro Range and the great
Karakoram Range.

After a couple of days' stay in Leh we moved to the Nubra Valley after crossing Khardung La. Nubra Valley lies along the Nubra and Shyok rivers and is
approximately four miles wide. On both sides there are mountains with the sheer rocky faces rising up 7000-8000 feet and culminating in snowy peaks of
24,000 feet. We followed the valley which is along the Nubra River and is flanked in the West by the Saltoro Range and in the East by the main crest of the
great Karakoram Range. In the North, the Nubra Valley ends in Siachen Glacier which leads to the Turkistan La and the lndira Col. They form the watershed
between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

We crossed the Shyok River at Tirit and went along the great Silk Route. This was the route followed bytradersto Yarkand which carried with them brocades,
opium and tobacco and brought back corals, jute and silk. They say no guide is required on this route as the trail is marked by skeletons of horses, yaks,
camels and human beings. We passed through the villages of Semur, Tegur and Panamik. Panamik is the last village on the Silk Route till the trader reaches
Eastern Turkistan and is well known for its hot springs. At Sasoma (Umlung) the Silk Route branches off to the right and crosses the great Karakoram Range
and then goes over the plains of Despain before crossing Karakoram Pass (height 18,300 feet) into the Chinese Turkistan. But we carried on Northwards to
Tongstead village.

It is here that we found 17 double-humped Krizig camels, the only ones of their kind in India. They are the descendants of the old caravan camels journeyed
from Yarkand to Leh.

Our next halt was at Warshi. The last village of the Nubra Valley consists of only one family husband, wife and a daughter. The first lady of the village was
very hospitable and served us salt tea, which I relished.

Warshi is an oasis of green grain fields bordered by poplars and rose bushes in the weird wilderness of a barren brown landscape full of stones and sand. It
is a small village created on every bit of the alluvial soil which has been retained by stone walls in terrace formation. A mountain torrent nearby furnishes a
never-failing supply of water. The size of these villages normally depends upon the industry of the inhabitants. Considering that there is only one family in
Warshi they must have really slogged to create this small heaven.

On the fourth day of March we reached the ice cave of the Siachen Glacier where the glacier ceases to exist and gives birth to the Nubra River. Here we found
an abundance of wild rose bushes which have given their name to the glacier - Sia means 'Rose'. These wild bushes often grow luxuriantly amongst boulders
where no soil can be seen or high upon the faces of the perpendicular rock precipices, the colourless surface of which they relieve in the most fascinating
manner.

The first day's journey on the glacier followed the stony moraine troughs which were lined by icy ridges on both sides. This day's halt was immediately after
the U-turn of the glacier. The most striking sight here was the disappearance of the huge stream of Terong Tokpo beneath the Siachen Glacier.

In this giant among glaciers, hundreds of other glaciers and streams from the East and West have joined to submerge their identity. It is over 1000 feet deep,
4 km wide and 75 km long. It has its own system of drainage above, and sewerage below. At times the streams just plunge into wells of ice, hundreds of feet
deep, not to be seen again. There are huge tunnels in this glacier which were once waterways.

On the second day's march we had to cling onto the steep icy banks of deep and gushing streams. One wrong stop would have resulted in certain death.
According to experts it would take only three minutes for anyone to freeze if he fell into the ice cold waters of the glacial streams. One porter in an earlier
expedition had fallen and was frozen to death.

Another three days' march took us to the junction of Saltoro and Siachen Glaciers. This became our Advance Base Camp (16,500 feet). It was from here that
we launched our ski tours to the various parts of the Siachen Glacier basin.

The first trip was made on 24 June to Biiafond La or the Saltoro Pass - the 'Gateway' to Baltistan. The going was good and effortless and we felt free like larks
with our fast-moving skis which took the crevasses and streams in their stride. At 0900 hrs I came across a small stream which was covered by a glass-like
bridge which seemed strong enough to bear my burden or at least I in my light mood thought so. But the moment I got to the centre of this bridge the glassy
crust gave away and I found myself knee-deep in the icy cold water of the stream below. I got a terrible eerie feeling as the cold water trickled slowly into my
boots. A little later an overpowering sensation of numbness got hold of my legs. Vinod, my buddy, came to my rescue and pulled me out of the freezing
stream and I jumped up and down on wooden sticks till the blood circulation was restored.

The slopes were nice and gradual but the climb was never-ending. I was sure that we would reach the pass latest by 1200 hrs. But distances in the mountains
can be most deceptive for it was not before 1630 hrs that we got to the flat top of Saltoro Pass (18,200 feet).

The climb had exhausted us completely but the view from the top of the pass was most exhilarating, especially towards the East where we could see the
Teram Kangri massif. Vinod and I had been on this mountain three years back and for us this was a view full of nostalgic memories.

The mountains on the other side of the pass, though lacking in the grandeur and size of Eastern Karakoram, broke the dull monotony of snow and ice as
Western Karakoram rocky pinnacles pierced into the sky. After we had had our fill of the spectacular vista of snow, ice and rocks and having gulped down a
cup of tea we turned our skis downwards and kept gliding effortlessly at 15-20 km per hour, our finned cross-country skis whistling gaily all the time. To
reduce our speed we just had to open the flaps of our jackets. Without taking a single turn we came down for eight long kilometres. The ecstasy of that
delightful trip down is one I shall never forget.

We had to wait for a couple of days till our supplies reached us and then we started off on our expedition to Indira Col - the lowest point of the greatest
water-shed in the world. We improvised a sledge by fixing a plywood board on the skis. The six of us then went self-contained for six days hauling our
supplies like huskies of Eskimos. We left our Advance Base Camp on 27 June. We must have crossed over a thousand crevasses - some of these were real
booby traps with soft snow bridges camouflaging them. It was indeed an exhausting and nerve-wracking journey full of suspense.

On 28th we camped under a high, black, domeshaped rock, which we named 'Gompa'. We had been seeing this landmark of 'Rock' for three days as we
approached it. But it appeared to us the same now as it had from a distance of 30, 20 or 10 km. The absence of haze at high altitudes makes distant objects
appear exactly as they do close-up.

Next day we left our camp early. We were all as excited like children. As a child I always wanted to know what lay on the other side of the hill and here I was
going to stand on the world's greatest watershed between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Climbing a snowfield and then a steep ridge and
traversing towards right another snowfield full of crevasses, we came to lndira Col (19,000 feet), a link between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Looking back we saw a wonderful vista of the Siachen Glacier flowing away into the distance 40 miles. The first half was a huge field of white and pure snow.
Later on, the glacier became ribboned with moraines of different colours as if the entire glacier had been ploughed. From a height the scene looked like
dozens of roads running parallel to each other. Towards the North we could see low, and and brown mountains with red slashes. Immediately below Urdok
the glacier fell away to smell the water of the Yarkand River. After having spent almost an hour on the Col we skied down. But before returning to the
Advance Base the ski team also visited Turkistan La (18,800 feet).

Sia Kangri (height 24,350 feet)

On 3 July, I reached a 20,500 feet high Col where Camp Ill of Sia Kangri had been established. It is just opposite the Conway Col at the head of Baltoro
Glacier. But then a storm overtook us and stayed with us till 12 July. Not for a minute did the sky become visible. The storm lashed at our tents, obliterated
our tracks and virtually pinned us down to our sleeping bags. Visibility in the blinding blizzard was not more than a few yards. Whiteouts were complete and
worse than the blackouts where at least the eye could get used to the darkness. Whenever the zip of the tent was opened the snow swept in and swirled the
interior, covering everything with ice crystals. At night I lay in my tent hearing creaking of tent cords and the flapping of nylon flaps.

Would it ever end? Sub Des Raj's party made an attempt to supply us with food during this blizzard. For 12 hours they kept going round and round in circles
but never reached us. They say if the leader has one leg smaller than the other, he would keep turning that way till he completes the round.

If the weather had remained bad for another couple of days we would have abandoned our attempt on Sia Kangri. But luckily for us, the weather improved
and not only did we receive supplies from below but we were also able to push Camp IV to a height of 22,500 feet on the Western slopes of Sia Kangri.

On the fateful day of the 13th the summit party of five members led by Major Chopra - the Deputy leader of the Expedition - left Camp IV. In the meantime I
decided to take the support party up to Camp IV in order to be as near the summit party as possible in case of emergencies. This camp was situated on the
source of the two longest glaciers in the world. From here it seemed that if we threw a snow ball it would reach Baltoro Giacier. The Karakorams have been
called the Third Pole because of its huge glaciers. If the centrepoint of this most glaciated area has to be selected it would have to be the summit of Sia
Kangri as it is the originating point of Baftoro Glacier, Siachen Glacier, Khondus Glacier and to an extent Urdok Glacier.

We looked up the mountain to see our team making tremendous progress. They had started traversing and twice a couple of members slipped and were held
by the others. Anybody who fell would have come straight to the yawning crevasse below. After a time they disappeared behind a crest line.

When we spotted them returning later at 1600 hrs, we were certain that they had got to the summit. But alas, they has been cheated by a false peak and had
to return without reaching the real summit of Sia Kangri.

However, next morning I led another party consisting of Captain Pathania, Sub Des Raj, Hav Vinod and Hav Rana. Taking advantage of the steps made by
the earlier expedition we got to the top of Sia Kangd 24,350 feet at 1445hrs.This was the Northern most peak ever climbed by any Indians in India - the centre
of the Third Pole. From where we stood we could look into Afghanistan, Russia, China, Turkistan, Tibet, India and Pakistan. Gasherbrum I (height 26,490 feet)
the second highest peak of the Karakorams lay like a sleeping whale just opposite us. We left on the top an ice axe inscribed with the names of Mrs lndira
Gandhi, General K. V. Krishna Rao, PVSM and the Summiters. Before returning to the Advance Base Camp we visited Sia La (18,850 feet) at the head of
Khondus Glacier from where we had a lovely view of Chogolisa, 'The Bride Peak'

Saltoro I (height 25,400 feet)

Saltoro in Tibetan in 'GSL-GT or-po' the giver of light - may be connected with the description of the glaciar glittering in the sun.This peak was triangulated at
the same time as K2 and was given the number K-10. Later on its local name was discovered and given to the subsidiary range of the Karakoram which runs
Southwards from Sia Kangri and separates the Eastern Karakorams from the Western Karakorams.

Before going to lndira Col and Sia Kangri, I along with Captain D. K. Duarah had made a trip towards the base of Saftoro Kangri on 23 June. After an hour of
walking up the Siachen Glacier we turned left and got the most magnificent view of the peak. Mountains, like people, have their individuality and character.
However, some are always commonplace no matter how high they tower. But this mountain is so noble in its built - strikingly tall and graceful - and it is so
supremely picturesque and beautiful that it is like those few commanding personalities you meet so rarely in life.

Going up Saltoro Glacier was good and I agreed with an earlier expedition's report that this glacier is the gentlest of all the Siachen's tributaries. After 10 km
the glacier ended in an immense flawless snow expanse encircled by Saltoros, Sherpi Kangri and four more peaks above 22,000 feet. What a feast for climbers'
eyes! But our eyes were set on the graceful sublime set of Saltoro jewels. We traced a rough line of tentative ascent. The route selected went South till the
base of Saltoro and then up its Eastern face. The first obstacle was an ice fall about 3000 feet in height. It appeared dangerous and deadly but then there was
no other alternative available. This route meets the South ridge at about 23,500 feet and then follows the ridge to the summit. Having been satisfied that the
route could 'Go' we started our return journey.

Considering our rapid progress on the way up we thought going down would not take us more than a couple of hours. But this so-called gentle and placid
glacier, having warmed itself up, was ready to show different colours. While going up the entire surface of the glacier was frozen solid and we did not even
imagine what lay under this harmless looking snow cover, till Captain D. K. Duarah walking right in front of me disappeared in a snow hole. His hands and ski
sticks were the only things visible. You can well imagine my consternation. It was difficult to believe my eyes. Mehrwan went to extricate Captain D.K.
Duarah and got trapped himself.

There was danger ahead and we fell on all fours. Luckily the crevasse was not deep. Kalam Singh crawled up and helped Duarah and Mehrwan out, while I
held his leg. It was an exhausting job as wherever they set their foot, they sank thigh deep. The top layer of the snow, having become soft with the heat of
the sun, gave no protection against the yawning crevasses below as it did in the early hours of the morning. This was only the beginning. Here onwards
every ten steps or so we fell into crevasses which luckily did not swallow us up. At no time could I see more than two people above the surface. In a way it
was not climbing but wrestling with snow. After a six-hour gruelling effort we returned to the Advance Base Camp, totally exhausted. But we were lucky to
have been spared the frozen hell.

As the weeks passed more of these crevasses opened out. At a later stage one of the members, Mangala Rai, fell into a 30-feet deep crevasse and was
precariously balanced on a snow 'Chalk Stone' while the gushing cold water stream flowed only two feet below him. On another occasion Ved Prakash and
Rajinder Singh, when carrying loads from the Advance Base Camp to Camp 1, had gone about 2 km when Rajinder Singh looked back and found that his
companion had suddenly disappeared. He stood paralysed for a few seconds and then returned to the gaping hole which had engulfed his partner. He kept
yelling into the crevasse 'Are you there, are you there'. After some time a feeble voice was heard from the great depths below. He was relieved to get a
response and rushed back to the Advance Base Camp for help. Ved Prakash was inside a 75-feet deep crevasse a frozen hell, for two hours before he was
evacuated with a broken ankle. This was no gentle glacier but the Devil's glacier full of death traps to entice the unwary into its pitiless jaws.

It is surprising that the longest western affluent of Siachen Glacier is named after the peak at the head of this river of ice.

On 30 June, Camp I was established at a place little short of the point reached by us earlier. It was named 'Suraj'. The next day Camp II was established at
19,000 feet at the foot of the East face. It was called 'Hema'. Towards the South-West was a 20,000 feet high pass between the Saltoro and Sherpi Kangri
Glaciers. Lord John Hunt had used this gap to come from Khapaiu in 1935. Lord Hunt's expedition had to turn back when they were only 800 feet from the
summit of Saltoro due to exhaustion and dangers of avalanches.

Camp III was placed after cutting through a comice at 21,000 feet just above the first ice wall. Beyond Camp III, the mountains were guarded as if by a demon
of invincibility. A second ice wall about 2000 feet high not only guarded it like a snake guards a treasure but kept spitting its venom in the form of deathly
avalanches. The overhanging ice wall would break and bring down thousands of tonnes of ice. Twice we had made a route through it at a great risk to life.
Twice it was swept away. One of the ice avalanches came so close to Camp III that we thought it would bury us in but when the noise - that of hundred trains
running parallel to each other - hissed away we found the debris had stopped only a 100 feet away from us. A close shave.

Before the summit camp was put on the South ridge at 23,400 feet another camp was placed at approximately 22,500 feet just above the second and most
deadly ice wall. On 15 July Captain D. K. Duarah, Kalam Singh, Sonam, Subhash and Rattan made an attempt which fell short by 200 to 300 feet. Then the
weather became bad and we were pinned down by blizzards. On 23 July a party of 3 members reoccupied Camp IV, and another four members left Camp Ill
early in the morning to join them. As they left, heavy wet snow started failing. I picked up the wireless and called everyone down. There were protests but I
was firm. And, thank God I was - that night a huge avalanche came down the sound of which could be heard for miles - it seemed never-ending. Our entire
camp Ill where 7 people would have slept that night was under 200 feet of snow.

We persisted, re-made the route, and on 2 August, 4 people left Camp V at 0600 hours and climbed to the summit at 25,400 feet at about 1445 hours. They left
two flags there - one over the Eastern side and one on the Western side to the summit. The flag was seen the next day from Camp 11. They had climbed the
highest peak of Eastern Karakoram. The summit party consisted of Kalam Singh (Thundup), Gaj Bahadur and Swam Singh.

To summarize, our expedition had climbed 25,400 feet Saftoro Kangd -the highest in Eastern Karakorams, Sia Kangd at 24,350 feet the Northernmost peak ever
climbed by an Indian and traversed the Himalayas' longest glacier, Siachen, on skis. We also made ski tours to Turkistan La, Sia La and Biiafond La.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Sunil » 02 Jul 2003 22:09

> Running above 20000 feet?

I don't think that is possible. I think the best people manage is a slow measured walk.

BTW.. GK question for all..

- Are oxygen tanks used on the Saltoro ridge and if so how frequently?

Jagan,

I think India-Today had an article in the late 80s, there was a photo of a patrol in snow gear on the cover. It had a description of the food that they eat on Siachen, including something called a Siachen Omlette, some combination of 4 eggs and a pack of maggie noodles.


hi Bishwa,

These mountaineering terms are a little confusing to me. Despite their massive coolness and engrossing nature, I have never been able to learn them properly.

I think a col is a gap next to a peak or between a set of peaks. It is effectively like a pass. The Rose Expedition map seems to depict the Indira Col as a pass. I think a col is like a saddle but smaller.

> 110 posts on the ridgeline. ~ 20 men to a post on the average.

IIRC someone put number of troops actually deployed on the ridge at about 4 battalions. (so 110*20=2200 seems about right for that number).

Ashutosh,

Boss those US Army maps are great!

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby daulat » 02 Jul 2003 22:41

I would expect that oxygen tanks and perhaps tents are available on the glacier to help soldiers recover/survive. It is unlikely that any are taken up to the actual OP's due to their weight and additional explosive risk under fire...

but then i have never been there

i loved the expedition report, i could just visualise them skiing down the glacier - that must have been one hell of thrill?!?!

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Naidu » 03 Jul 2003 02:52

Originally posted by Jagan:
A better map on the peaks, ridges, glaciers, cols and what not is here

http://www.indmount.org/Map_Siachen_Rose1998.jpg

The following peaks/passes/cols are there that border the glacier

Sia Kangri, Sia La (Pass), Silver Throne, Ghent, Sherpa Kangri II, Sherpi Col, Saltaro Kangri II, Saltaro Kangri I, Bilafond La, K12, Gyong La.
Thanks, Jagan, for that map. Col Kumar's report really came to life with this map as reference.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby ehsmang » 03 Jul 2003 09:49

Bishwa,

Q1) Are all the posts manned 7*24*365 or some are vacated during winters?

Q2) What is the total length ( approx) of the ridgeline?

Q3) Assuming all posts are manned 7*24*365. Now if the Indian Army were to leave some posts ( at random) unoccupied, how easy is it for the enemy to detect.

In the KArgil thread Ray had said that the entire PAki operations ( Kargil) were unteanable since they had not thought through about the logistics. ( this is when they had quite a few months to prepare). How then would a intrusion onto Siachen be viable when they will not have much time to prepare ( logistics wise) and also the fact that IA is having a presence on the ridgeline?

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby debjani » 03 Jul 2003 11:23

Originally posted by ehsmang:
Bishwa,

In the KArgil thread Ray had said that the entire PAki operations ( Kargil) were unteanable since they had not thought through about the logistics. ( this is when they had quite a few months to prepare). How then would a intrusion onto Siachen be viable when they will not have much time to prepare ( logistics wise) and also the fact that IA is having a presence on the ridgeline?
In the Kargil thread, all I did was to present a staff check of the number of porters that would be required JUST to carry the rations that was being claimed to have been dumped. The weapons, ammuntion, the extra rations like that is being said they had like Pepsi, Malta and then the Satellite dishes would have added more weight to be carried and so more men which would have made the porter train like a caravan even over a six months period.

Thus, I left it to the readers to make their OWN judgement. It is for them to decide what they wish to believe.

In so far as the Siachen is concerned, the Pakistanis are already there. They also hold some heights which are higher than ours. They already have an established supply system. Therefore, if we leave the Saltoro unmanned, then what prevents them from coming down and simulatenously establishing supply posts en route and securing such supply routes?

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 03 Jul 2003 12:34

Originally posted by sunil s:
Jagan,

I think India-Today had an article in the late 80s, there was a photo of a patrol in snow gear on the cover. It had a description of the food that they eat on Siachen, including something called a Siachen Omlette, some combination of 4 eggs and a pack of maggie noodles.
Then the issue i have must be a different one. This one had pictures of soldiers praying in a makeshift temple etc. come to think of it, I think it was done by Pramod Pushkarna and a sardar and not Shekar gupta.

Bishwa, all scans can be done only over the weekend. experiencing problems with my PC

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Sunil » 03 Jul 2003 19:58

Some questions about the Saltoro operations

1) Which posts were the most difficult to take? We have all heard of the story of Bana Top (nee Qaid Peak) - but are those the highest posts?

2) What was Operation Ibex? The Pakistanis keep talking about a major operation called Ibex, conducted in 1992 which attempted to take a peak in the Chulung complex. The Pakistanis claim that a PA officer was dropped on the peak from a helicopter and subsequently held the peak in adverse weather and deterred an Indian Army attack through deception (faking radio traffic).
How much truth is there in this version?

Hi Jagan,

Boss it is the same article - with a united services temple in a prefab igloo/nissin hut and soldiers praying with their snow boots on before they go on patrol?

Cover photo of the India Today has a patrol in full snow gear on a traverse?

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 03 Jul 2003 20:07

Sunil,

I have not yet taken a look at the article (gotta remember to take it out once i go home). But its the same one you mention. I have no idea about the Cover because I have only the individual pages from the inside carefully removed. (to save on stacking space).

Jagan

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 03 Jul 2003 20:18

2) What was Operation Ibex?

Take a look at the outside magazine article on siachen. It gives the pakistani version of ibex.

They claim it was an operation near the Chumik glacier in 1989. No mention of radio traffic etc.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Ashutosh » 03 Jul 2003 21:03

Jagan and Naidu, the maps are from 1955 IIRC, and I guess the peaks in that area were named/renamed later repeatedly from both sides? So the names we know of might not appear on it word for word.

Sunil, amazing, isn't it? I guess they have such maps for each and every country. I was looking at my hometown (as it existed in 1955), and from what I know how it is today - boss the defining portion itself seems to have grown more than 500 times!

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 03 Jul 2003 21:07

Ashutosh,

I have moved the Kargil map discussion to a new thread. Though the maps are old, Hyderabad hasn't changed much.

cheers

Jagan

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Sunil » 03 Jul 2003 21:13

More questions.

(continued numbering from previous post)

3) What sequence were the peaks taken in? As per Gen. Chibber's book, we know that the passes were occupied first - Sia La, Bilafond La and then Gyong La. Soon after operations began to take the overlooking heights, what was the order in which these were taken?

4) The Pakistanis have different names for India's bases and vice versa. Was an attempt ever made to come up with a common nomenclature? IIRC there were a series of negotiations that ended when General Zia ul Haq was killed in a plane crash. During these negotiations (per Raghavan or was it Noorani?) maps were exchanged but what about after?

5) What are the written and unwritten rules of engagement on Siachen? Here are the ones I know

a) No firing in such a way that it causes avalanches.
b) No fighting in inclement weather.
c) No artillery fire on established festival days.

6) What order were the Pakistani positions occupied in? When was the position at the Conway Saddle occupied?

7) What was the exact composition of the Pakistan Army Special Snow Warfare Force established at Dansam in 1987? Was it really established by then Brig. Pervez Musharraf? What eventually became of this force after it failed to secure the objective (i.e. Qaid Post)? I seem to recall that this force comprised of some SSG companies and another company of the FF is this correct?

8) What is the logistics situation? How many helicopters do the Pakistanis use for supplying their troops? How many do we use? I think the number we use is more because we have to cross the entire siachen glacier to get to our posts, by contrast the Pakistanis have "roads" leading to the mouth of the much smaller Kondus, Bilafond, Chumik and Gyong glaciers. This is at the core of the Pakistani argument that they have better logistics. If you look at the ROSE98 map you will see what I mean.

9) On our side, where does the kerosense pipeline start and where does it go to?

Hi Bishwa,

I have read the outside article. There is also a Pakistani book called Fangs of Ice, by Lt. Col. Ishfaq Ali, parts of which were put up on Pakdef a few months ago.

I have the link here.

http://www.pakdef.info/forum/showthread.php?s=c226788880fd 9ee9e46a377fdb67907e&threadid=2670&perpage=25&pagenumber=1

I am still a little confused about a date to this Operation Ibex; Fangs of Ice and Outside Magazine puts it in 1989 (both of whom got it from the Pakistan Army), Harish Kapadia places it at 1992 (who got it from our guys).

The claim made in both accounts is that an position overlooking Gyong La was seized by a small PA unit before the IA could get up there in strength. The small PA unit was deployed on the position by helicopters flown from Ghyari (which does not make sense since the closest town is Goma) and held the position preventing Indian forces from bouncing the PA posture at Gyong La. This feature is called Naveed Top by the Pakistanis.

At the end of the fighting there was allegedly a negotiation by which the entire feature was demilitarized. The brigadier of our 102 Bde at Partapur at the time is alleged to have been Brig. Gen. "Naina wati".. (most likely Gen. Nanavatty recently retired as Corps Commander 15th Corps.)

I think this particular operation is given much significance in Pakistan because it is one of Pakistan's few victories on the Saltoro ridge and there isn't a lot more to celebrate there. Also there is that whole "a numerical weaker but martially superior force" holding out against a vastly powerful army of "infidels", a "modern day battle of Badr" spiel that ties in well with this.

Interestingly there are differing accounts of what happened to the young Lt. Naveed who participated in this heli-insertion. Some accounts say he died in the attempt, but others claim that he is alive and well.

Hi Jagan,

Boss atleast you saved it, my mother gave all the magazines to the raddiwallah.

The US Army map has a lot of familiar places, the entire Gultari-Faranshat-Palawar-Buniyal road is visible clearly on it. Heck they even have the route from Gutari to Dras through the Marpo La.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Jagan » 03 Jul 2003 21:25

This was the Quaid Post at an altitude of 21,600 feet, named after the company which established it in April 86. It stands out as the loftiest feature in the heights of Bilafond sector overlooking Rana and Akbar Tops to the West, Prem in the North and Yaqub in the East
It will be quite a task to match up 'our' names with 'thiers'. Incidentally the altitude of quaid as 21600 is a clue. There is only one peak with altitude 21610 in the Bilafond/Saltaro area in the corresponding NI 43-4 US map. (near the Intersection of 388 and 140 grid lines)

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 04 Jul 2003 00:04

a) No firing in such a way that it causes avalanches.
I do not think this is true.

b) No fighting in inclement weather.
Not true. If you read Capt Das account you will see this is not true.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Bishwa » 04 Jul 2003 00:23

7) What was the exact composition of the Pakistan Army Special Snow Warfare Force established at Dansam in 1987? I seem to recall that this force comprised of some SSG companies and another company of the FF is this correct?

The force which attacked Bilafondla in 87 included a unit of SSG, Punjab and NLI. The complex was defended jointly by the Indian Army 8 JAKLI and 3/4 GR.

8 JAKLI was in the process of handing over charge to 3/4 GR after spending the summer there. It was during this time that they took Bana post.

The 3/4 GR was lead by Maj Krishna Gopal Chatterjee. One of the officers in the 8 JAKLI unit was Major Williams. Another was Major Virender Singh.

The IA intercepted PA radio communication and was aware of the PA plans. When PA mountaineers fixed ropes, the IA noticed it and were waiting. The SSG commandoes who climbed up were intercepted and decimated. 17 SSG commandoes wrer posthumusly awarded galantry awards including a SSG capt.

A similar fate awaited other forces which attacked. The IA intercepted Punjab unit officers communications in which they were cursing hihg command for their plight.

Even after 1 year of the attack the IA was retriving PA bodies and returning them.

Then Brigadier Mussharaf was overall incharge of the PA forces.

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Re: Manning the Siachen Glacier

Postby Sunil » 04 Jul 2003 03:57

Bishwa,

I think there are varying accounts of the "rules" of combat. I think each reporter who goes up there probably comes up with his/her own version of the rules, which is why I was asking the question.

Is there any mention of `rules' the ceasefire meetings that have taken place? I guess it is not too surprising if informal `rules' exist.

Also I seem to recall there is a standard greeting with artillery that is supposed to be given when a dignitary of the rank of a flag officer or above is visiting. I seem to recall an occassion when MOD Mulayam Singh Yadav visited and was `greeted' with a artillery barrage, and he asked that the IA arty respond, therefore breaking protocol.

Thanks for correcting me on the FF as a part of the 1987 force.

To All,

Does anyone have a copy of Gen. (r) Raghavan's book? what does it say about all this?


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