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Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Y I Patel
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Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 29 Jan 2004 20:25

Operation Meghdoot was launched in April 1984. As the momentous date comes closer, expect the worms to start crawling out of the woodwork.

So it occurred to me that we need a permanent Saltoro presence on BRF, pretty much for the same reasons our military needs to maintain one on Saltoro Ridge: not doing so encourages assorted bleeding hearts to infiltrate and cause no amount of trouble. Much easier to blast someone from coming in, than trying to root them out once they establish themselves with their uninformed arguments.

As a kick start, here are some of my favourite rebuttals, in easily digestible bites:

Myth 1: India and Pakistan are fighting for Siachen Glacier
Reality: India won the war 20 years ago by successfully establishing posts on the Saltoro. Pakistan has been trying desperately to claw its way up there, with repeated failures and horrendous losses

Myth 2: India started it
Reality: India responded to hard intelligence on Pakistans designs for the area, as well as to the cartographic aggression commited by Pakistan in claiming that area for themselves. Pakistan was planning to get to the area in 1984, but Indians were faster and more competent.

Myth 3: Siachen costs India horribly in lives lost to weather and enemy
Reality: May have been true when we first went there, but India has not lost any soldiers to weather and altitude in the last three years. Source: http://in.rediff.com/news/2004/jan/27army.htm and other reports

Myth 4: Siachen is strategically meaningless
Reality: The Nubra valley leading up to Siachen Glacier also has the Saser La pass, which is undoubtedly India's best gateway to Central Asia. When (not if) that pass is reopened for trade, the true strategic worth of defending Saltoro will become apparent even to the most willfully obtuse.

Myth 5: It is very expensive for India to hold its positions
Reality: In 20 years, India has established a formidable infrastructure for sustaining its presence in the area for as long as it takes. India is a booming economy that spends a very small fraction of its money on defence, and a very small fraction of that small fraction actually goes to defending Saltoro.

Myth 6: India should leave Saltoro as a goodwill measure
Reality: Ask Israel to withdraw from Golan Heights first

Please post any more points that I may have overlooked.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Bishwa » 29 Jan 2004 20:34

<img src="http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-1/Siachen2.jpg" alt="" />

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Bishwa » 29 Jan 2004 20:36

We should have a BR Monitor Special on Siachen for the occasion.

I have some material which I am planning to write into an article.

Would the BR Editors be interested in the project.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Ashutosh » 29 Jan 2004 21:01

Originally posted by Y I Patel:
Myth 6: [b]India should leave Saltoro as a goodwill measure
Reality: Ask Israel to withdraw from Golan Heights first[/b]
YIP, The counter-argument you present is flawed IMHO. Golan Heights does not belong to Israel anyways; so even if they return it back does not mean that India has to leave Saltoro.

PS: I am not totally sure, but Israel has also indicated it's willingness to retreat from Golan Heights, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 29 Jan 2004 21:04

Some positive talking points:

1. Saltoro has been a harsh teacher, but Indians have been apt pupils. India has thousands of miles of its International Boundaries in mountainous areas, and the lessons of Saltoro have made Indians the finest mountain warriors, bar none.

2. The amazing victory in Kargil would not have been possible without the mountain warfare tactics developed in Saltoro. Now, other countries are coming to India to learn how Indians deal with warfare at unimaginable altitudes.

3. The attention to detail and exacting conditions of command have bred a new sense of professionalism in the soldiers who serve in this unforgiving terrain. Siachen commanders are selected from the cream of the crop, and routinely go on to very high positions in the Army: Lt Gen Nanavatty (retd GOCinC Northern Command), Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Jaitley (Sierra Leone, currently MGO) are but two recent examples of Siachen Brigade commanders who went on use their experience and skills in other parts of the Indian Army. A Siachn posting is a sine-qua-non for professional advancement in the Indian Army. Such a posting is on a purely voluntary basis, and being chosen to serve there from a pool of several applicants is seen as a great professional honour in the Indian Army.

4. Provisioning demands for the soldiers posted in the area has led to a boom in the economy of the Leh-Nubra region. Several high altitude farming techniques have been developed by DRDO to help ease the burden of food supplies to the region, and the local infrastructure has also improved significantly as a direct consquence of the increased military presence in the area.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Guest » 29 Jan 2004 21:24

US Army map service topo maps of interest.

NI 43:4 contains most of the points of interest.
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu:8085/india/250k/ni43_4.jpg

NI 43:8 contains the "V" formed by Shyok and Nubra rivers... shows the important rear-bases (Thoise etc.)
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu:8085/india/250k/ni43_8.jpg

<hr>
And of course, the BRM piece.
Manning the Siachen Glacier
http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-1/Siachen.html

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby daulat » 29 Jan 2004 22:00

Originally posted by Ashutosh:
PS: I am not totally sure, but Israel has also indicated it's willingness to retreat from Golan Heights, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
i believe that it has been mooted, but the reality is that the golan offers some strategic advantages to israel

1. control over headwaters of the jordan river - really very very important

2. geographical dominance over lebanon and syria, both for sigint and force posturing

3. denial of said geographical advantage to syrian forces (can bottle up any syrian advance in the golan)

so, it would take enormous rapprochement between syria and israel for things to change on that frontier

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby JTull » 29 Jan 2004 22:41

Originally posted by Ashutosh:
Originally posted by Y I Patel:
[b]Myth 6: [b]India should leave Saltoro as a goodwill measure
Reality: Ask Israel to withdraw from Golan Heights first[/b]
YIP, The counter-argument you present is flawed IMHO. Golan Heights does not belong to Israel anyways; so even if they return it back does not mean that India has to leave Saltoro.

PS: I am not totally sure, but Israel has also indicated it's willingness to retreat from Golan Heights, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.[/b]
I agree. First the Chicoms must be asked to vacate area north of Siachen then we could think of something.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Editor » 29 Jan 2004 22:49

Hello Bishwa,

The BRM would be very interested in your contribution. Please contact the brs at bharat-rakshak dot com address for further discussions.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Rudra » 29 Jan 2004 22:55

I like these shadowy figures like "Editor" who
see everything but seldom say anything....

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby karan » 29 Jan 2004 23:08

YIP,
There is no argument about India vacating Saltoro Ridge. It is ours, It was ours, If anyone wants to take it, "bring it on, biatch". Mountain and sea warfare are the most difficult to develop expertise on. Water is the most potent force in nature. Moutains are the most potent solid objects in nature. It takes years of hardwork to develop the expertise that we have today. I am sure we made mistakes along the way and learned from them and perfected those techniques. One of the techniques that our boys are so good at is slithering repel. If anyone has taken moutain climbing courses courtsey of Indian mountain clubs in Garwahl and Himachal can attest to that. All we need to do now is continue building the road all the way upto saltoro ridge. We should do it not because its easy because it is so hard that it will take every ounce of our ingenuity to maitain black top at that altitude all weather.

Comments are welcome!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Umrao » 29 Jan 2004 23:11

I like the dear emailer to the editor even more, feels like I am reading Spy vs Spy in Mad.

:D

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Jagan » 29 Jan 2004 23:44

Originally posted by Rudra Singha:
I like these shadowy figures like "Editor" who
see everything but seldom say anything....
Boss

We are like this only. Just let me pull up your IP Address and send the black helicopters and the people in trench coats after you.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Jagan » 29 Jan 2004 23:46

Speaking of maps has anyone managed to get the maps from the Fangs of Ice pak book? (is it there at unmentionablesite.info ?)

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 30 Jan 2004 00:18

V Raghavan's book on Siachen (Saltoro) is an excellent source. However, it is important to read it with some important caveats: it has a big internal contradiction when the general states that Saltoro could be defended by holding a few carefully selected posts, and then goes on to talk in detail about how Pakistani occupation of Quaid Post posed a serious threat. That incident shows that India could not rely on a passive strategy of holding on to a few peaks, but had to proactively move in on a large scale to prevent Paki occupation of Saltoro. His maps are terribly shoddy in this day and age of electronic mapping, and of course, he starts of on a totally wrong foot with a preface by some dolt called Cohen. He could have gone with any number of people for getting his Foreword written, people like Narendar Kumar, RK Nanavatty, and Chandan Nugyal to name a few. So why did he have to go with this moron?

That said, the book contains excellent material on how the operations have evolved since the Kumaon Regiment mounted Op Meghdoot. His account of the first days of Megdoot gave me goosebumps - inspite of Raghvan's understated prose, the account can put any Clancy thriller to shame for its sheer impact. The real sweet spot in the book is the treatment of the operational and logistics aspects driving strategy in the Saltoro area. Raghavan shows with precision how India's artillery doctrine has relieved our troops of incessant pressure, and how the complexion of the conflict has changed from beating back attacks to proactively preventing them by using India's superior positions to disrupt Pakistani buildups. While Raghavan does not say so explicitly, the Pakistanis have been effectivley reduced to the role of "sitting ducks" who cower in their downhill shelters while Indian observers perched on the heights of Saltoro take pot shots or direct arty fire.

The book would have been fantastic if Raghavan had restrained himself to the military aspects. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the temptations of trying to solve the problem, and came up with some of the usual formulas that have no chance of going anywhere until Pakistan gives up its obsession with Kashmir in general.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Umrao » 30 Jan 2004 00:23

So why did he have to go with this moron?
He consulted abad map to go.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 30 Jan 2004 00:42

Raghavan, to his credit, does have an excellent section on the geopolitical background to the conflict. Most articles on the Saltoro conflict focus on the meaninglessness of fighting at those altitudes. Raghavan's book takes the opposite tack and makes amply clear that both sides have very good reasons to hold on to the area. Would require an extensive article on Raghavan's first couple of chapters to do justice to the interests of India, Pakistan and China in this area, so all I can say is read the book. I would say buy it; if nothing else, the Preface can be put to excellent use in the toilet.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby daulat » 30 Jan 2004 00:50

increasingly china's reliance on aksai chin for their strategic highway through xinkiang seems to be reducing... or does it?

if china felt that aksai was no longer strategically critical, perhaps there could be some de-escalation

else, paks will continue to get pot-shots taken on them via saltoro for their gross stupidity

anyway - i think its high time IA ran some good PR ops on the glacier for the global media to show what nice chaps we are, TSPA used to do a good job of that in the days when Unkil needed them for Afganistan

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Sunil » 30 Jan 2004 01:35

> Build a road to the saltoro ridge?

My uncle's brother-in-law's father's cousin's friend from high school's son's driver's boss told me that after India builds a road to the Saltoro ridge, it is planning to build a road right to the top of K2. :roll:

To add to YIP's list.

The environmental cost of holding on to Siachen is horrendous, the Pakistani side of the glacier is much cleaner

Well ofcourse there is an environmental cost! War has a cost! As regards the Pakistani side being cleaner, sure if you walk around the Pakistani camp at Ghyari things are clean, but try walking up the Kondus river valley or the Conway saddle instead and see for yourself. Ofcourse your Pakistani friends wouldn't let you walk around there now would they? When was the last time they let anyone else walk past the mouth of the Kondus? 1988?

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Manne » 30 Jan 2004 09:42

IA would rather hold on to a position which is horrendously costly so long as it lets them dominate TSPA (GUBO of the army kind). In this case, it indeed does. TSPA can keep all their "clean" areas if it means that they will keep on launching useless assualts and the TSPA casualty figure keeps going up.

BTW, YIP, can you provide a few references for this

Pakistan has been trying desperately to claw its way up there, with repeated failures and horrendous losses
I am aware of failures but never found much details on their losses. Okay, losses being proportional to failures is fine but I am looking for some numbers.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Prasenjit Medhi » 30 Jan 2004 13:19

Regarding the 'strategic gateway to C. Asia' notion. There is the Tribal Areas, and Karakoram Highway problem.

Strategically, Siachen is of little value if there is no landlink with Afghanistan. We should have taken it all up to the Afghan border, twenty years ago.

If Pak attempts another Kargil, in future, we should be poised to cut off Pak from China. We will have the cover we need for such an action, and it will be a fitting response to adventurism on their part.

Still, salute to the soldiers on Siachen is due. I can not begin to imagine the mental and physical strength to endure months at that altitude and under those conditions. Only the IA could do it.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby RayC » 30 Jan 2004 13:42

YIP,

Whats the name of Raghavan's book and who published it?

Raghavan has been GOC 28 Inf Div for a long time and he was also the DGMO. Therefore, it would be interesting.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Jagan » 30 Jan 2004 14:17

Originally posted by RayC:
Whats the name of Raghavan's book and who published it?
<img src="http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/BookImg/Siachen_BIG.jpg" alt="" /> http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/books/aspBookDetail.asp?ID=4826

Siachen: Conflict Without End by V R Raghavan
Penguin India
0670049220 | Hardback
256 pages | Rs 395

Review on Frontline by Noorani

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby JTull » 30 Jan 2004 16:00

IMO, something like Kargil is bound to happen again. It might happen before or soon after the end of Mushy era. Any military action at that time should include full out attempt to capture all of PoK north of Srinagar. We should even try some part of CoK that was gifted away by Pakis. In fact, the Chinese would be loathe to defend it heavily and get involved directly as it would be seen as a clear attempt two neighbours to capture Indian land. Cutting off the link would be of huge strategic importance.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Joeqp » 30 Jan 2004 16:54

Agree with Medhi: a salute to the IA is due.

Heck, a salute to the IA is due <B>every</B> day. If not for their professionalism and sacrifice, India wouldn't be India today. But I digress.

I agree with Bansal: the Paki-s(hit) have a tendency to backstab you. It is in their bloody genes. You can't change that. Can you straighten out the tail of a mangy cur ?

India has to be almost hyper-alert now that Paki-s(hit) are "talking" peace. This is when they are most dangerous, and this is when we are most vulnerable.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Mandeep » 30 Jan 2004 19:21

Prasenjit, aren't you from Mayo ?

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 30 Jan 2004 19:32

Manne:

Raghavan's book talks about suicidal attacks launched by Pakis (purportedly on orders from one Brig Musharraf) to recapture Bana. These attacks were decimated, as were other attacks on Bana and other posts. Raghavan has lots of details.

Medhi:

Unfortuanately, we think of Central Asia only in terms of passage via Afghanistan and Northern Areas, and forget that a major branch of the Silk Route passed via Saser La to places like Yarkhand and beyond. Think of all the Buddha statues in Mongolia, China, and Siberia. All those travellers must have passed through Saser La and Karakoram La, not through the other passes in NA. I have some posts in a previous Siachen thread (referenced through the BRM article) that talks in a bit more detail about this point.

Ray Cahab: you would find Raghavan's book very interesting! BTW I ordered my copy through BR Bookstore, and the service was excellent, as usual! I think I got it in a couple of weeks, which is pretty good for second class mail from India.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Editor » 31 Jan 2004 02:52

People may find this BRM piece interesting.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-1/Siachen.html

Here Pavan Nair highlighted a common motif presented in discussions on the Siachen Glacier conflict; i.e. what is the exact strategic significance of the glacier? Moreover, could it be handled differently?

In a reply to this, participants Praneet N, Y I Patel, and Ray responded with the following points;

1) Keeping the Pakistanis off Siachen is critical to maintaining the security of the Nubra Valley. If the Pakistanis were to somehow secure the village of Dzingrulma at the snout of the glacier, they would be able to put the entire Nubra Valley within artillery range.

2) Holding the Saltoro Ridge on the west of the Siachen Glacier opens up the possibility of interdicting any Pakistani moves towards the Indian town of Chalunkha. The town of Chalunkha has very little depth due to its geography on the Indian side; the loss of Chalunkha would impose immense costs on the main lines of communication in the region.

3) By deflecting the threat to Chalunkha and Dzingrulma, we protect key passes (the Khardung Pass and the Saser Pass) in the region and close the gap that existed between the Shyok and Nubra rivers. This is essential to preserving the security of Leh and other key military positions along the Northern end of the Line of Actual Control with China.

In another post, Y I Patel added another aspect to the strategic significance of Siachen:

"The Saltoro Ridge, simply put, acts as the wedge that keeps India's door to Central Asia open. It may be pertinent to note here that during Mughal times Surat and Bharuch were among India's richest cities, thanks to the trade between India and Arabia. The prosperity was further boosted by commerce resulting from the Silk Route paths that passed over the Himalayas and connected China and Central Asia to the Middle East via India. The glory of Bharuch port is but a memory, but geographical verities remain constant with time. It is still shorter, for example, to get to Urmuqi (the capital of Chinese Xinjiang province) from Kandla rather than Hong Kong."

"There are Buddha statues in Mongolia, even in Siberia. They bear witness to the Indian cultural values that were transmitted to the remote reaches of Central Asia by Indian traders and monks. The geography remains the same, and those ancient routes can now be transformed to interstate highways and broad gauge railways."

"It is in my appreciation of the importance of Saser and Karakoram passes. I do not see them as letting China in; I see them as letting India out to China and through it to the other countries of Central Asia. That thought may have been too "visionary" just a few months ago, but if Nathu La will see traders plying their wares to Tibet again, can Karakoram La be far behind? This, ultimately, is what India's young sons are shedding blood in Siachen for. ....But portraying the Battle for Karakoram as a senseless or petty struggle does grave injustice to the brave young Indians who have paid in their blood to keep this door open."

The poster Ray appreciated the originality of Y I Patel's thesis, and its relevance:

"Pakistan could link up POK to China - that was their original intention. That is why they extended the line from NJ9842.

While I (Ray) was inward looking, he (Y I Patel) is outward looking and aggressively fresh. I looked at Karakorum as China connecting to it. Y I Patel looked at it better – (as) our gateway into China!"

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby jrjrao » 02 Feb 2004 06:14

cross-post.

:confused:
[/quote]http://in.news.yahoo.com/040201/58/2b96k.html

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Sunil » 03 Feb 2004 02:51

> India mulls pullback from Siachen - Telegraph.

A positive environment for bilateral ties could result in meaningful dialogue on the Siachen issue and when that happens who can say what will be achieved.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Kanu » 03 Feb 2004 03:06

I dont know. Might just be another ploy for them to do a Kargil and sieze Siachen this time or God's know what is going through their twisted little minds.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Atish » 03 Feb 2004 05:46

The couple of thousand crores saved in Siachen could be useful in other areas of defense. If TSP also climbs down, it might not eb a terrible deal for us. What?

Atish.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Prasenjit Medhi » 04 Feb 2004 10:40

If TSP climbs down, we should follow them down .. of course :D

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Jagan » 04 Feb 2004 14:29

Why not make this thread - an archive of all info on the net related to Siachen?

The Build up to Operation Meghdoot - Gp Capt M Bahadur

IAF's roll of honor for Siachen (and Kargil)

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby daulat » 04 Feb 2004 18:17

Originally posted by Prasenjit Medhi:
If TSP climbs down, we should follow them down .. of course :D
able geographers and/or those who have served there - what is the relevant geographical feature that we would have to hold (on the TSP side) to prevent them from threatening the area? I don't mean on a macro scale, but just to secure the glacier/valley/watershed, i.e. where would we have to follow them to?

and... would this be a position of stability, or lead to a meltdown on their side of the ability to hold NA etc.?

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 04 Feb 2004 19:19

jrj:

We are building a road to a base camp on the southern glacier area - this be a big boost in terms of permitting faster response from base camp, and logistics to that area will become much easier. Likewise, the cableway and kerosene pipeline that are being built will make vital logistics more managable as well as reliable. This additional infrastructure and increased efficiency of logistics will naturally translate into lower supporting manpower requirements. Likewise, reserves can also be drawn down. So all in all, we now have more flexibility in our negotiating position, and we can afford to make a few "CBM" gestures of manpower reductions if it makes the pill go down better for those in Pindi.

These considerations will hold good for the Valley as well.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby daulat » 04 Feb 2004 20:00

how secure is a cable way from arty and/or sabotage? let us assume that PAF is out of the picture

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Y I Patel » 04 Feb 2004 22:45

Daulat

Pretty hard to hit a cable, but pylons may be targeted. They will most likely not have a clear line of sight to either.

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby daulat » 04 Feb 2004 23:18

Originally posted by Y I Patel:
Daulat

Pretty hard to hit a cable, but pylons may be targeted. They will most likely not have a clear line of sight to either.
pylons, base stations can both be hit - agreed on line of sight need. then there are uav's. does pak arty have sufficient coverage in the area?

then there are infiltrators... not sure if this is remotely feasible in this sector, either across LAC or via the valley

i think the risk is outweighed by the necessity

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Re: Celebrating 20 years of victory on the Saltoro Ridge

Postby Jagan » 04 Feb 2004 23:33

Originally posted by Daulat:
pylons, base stations can both be hit - agreed on line of sight need. then there are uav's. does pak arty have sufficient coverage in the area?

then there are infiltrators... not sure if this is remotely feasible in this sector, either across LAC or via the valley
The cable probably covers supply from base of glacier to kumar which is about half way thru the glacier. i dont see any sources mentioing that the cable is going to service individual psots. which i think is not the case at all. Ditto with the pipeline. Its probably only upto Kumar Camp, from where things are airlifted to the posts.

Pylons need a direct hit on the base from Arty to knock it down. Even a near miss is not enough. UAVs probably will not be able to operate in the rarefied atmosphere and at that altitude and terrain. Infilitrators (militants) on the Glacier?? not a chance. they will be freezed popsicles before they can do some damage.


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