The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been significantly debilitated by the eastern Ladakh standoff, which is around one and a half years old now. China lost many troops in the Galwan Valley face off last year, and later, the PLA soldiers found it too hard to withstand the extreme Ladakh climate. Now, the Indian Army is looking to mount further pressure on the PLA.
Indian Army launches airborne drills:
The Indian Army’s Shatrujeet Brigade is conducting aerial exercises close to the border in eastern Ladakh, in a bid to induct troops in high-altitude zones and validate rapid response capabilities.
Indian Express quoted sources as saying that the Shatrujeet Brigade 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”. On Monday, the airborne troops of the Shatrujeet Brigade were inserted at a drop zone of over 14,000 feet.
Also read: Amid standoff with China, India puts the Ladakh region under drone surveillance. More Made-In-India drones to follow
Exercises conducted in extremely challenging circumstances:
India has a number of paratroop units amongst its defence forces. However, the recent airborne drills conducted by the Shatrujeet Brigade are extraordinary, considering the extreme climate of the region.
Sources said that the troops involved in the exercise were pre-acclimatised. They also said that the troops, “along with specialist vehicles and missile detachments, were transported via C-130 and AN 32 aircraft from five different mounting bases to validate inter-theatre move, precision stand-off drops, rapid grouping and capture of designated objectives with speed and surprise”.
Also read: First Galwan, now Pangong Tso – China is a major coward when it comes to continuing a real fight
The airdrop drills were particularly challenging due to extremely high altitude, and the onset of winter season was “particularly challenging due to the low temperatures”. The temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees, and the atmosphere is said to be rarefied at super-high-altitude terrain. The Indian Army troops are therefore managing a highly challenging military manoeuvre, despite sub-zero temperatures and unbearably low air pressure.
Sources said, “The exercise also involves conduct of Oxygen Combat Free Fall jumps and integrated battle drills by airborne forces, mechanised columns and attack helicopters, validating capabilities and seamless integration”.
What makes the Shatrujeet Brigade special?
The Shatrujeet Brigade, which is also known as the 50th Parachute Brigade, was constituted in 1941 during the second World War. It has 80 years of glorious history, including pre-independence campaigns like the battle of Sangshak, in which it was tasked with delaying the Japanese forces.
After independence, the 50th Parachute Brigade has been involved in several epic battles, and many major wars including the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1947-48, 1971 and 1999, Goa annexation of 1961, and Operation Cactus in 1988. Brigadier Mohammad Usman MVC, who gave the supreme sacrifice during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, too was commanding the 50th Parachute Brigade when he gave up his life in action.
Also read: China admits that they were outclassed and thrashed by Indian soldiers in Galwan
Presently, the 50th Parachute Brigade consists of two parachute battalions, one special forces battalion, 60 Parachute Field Ambulance, 411 (Independent) Parachute Field Company (Bombay Sappers), 622 Parachute Composite Company ASC, 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade OFP (Ordnance), 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company, 2 (Independent) Parachute Field Workshop Company, 1 parachute field regiment (Artillery) (9 & 17 parachute field regiments) and a provost section, an air defence battery.
The Shatrujeet Brigade is one of the most lethal branches of the Indian Army, and the President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is also part of this brigade. The Indian Army is therefore mounting unbearable pressure on a weakened Chinese PLA, which seems likely to crumble in face of India’s Shatrujeet Brigade.