“Quartered in snow, silent to remain, when the bugle calls, they shall rise and march again.” These are the words that are etched on a stone memorial at the Indian Army base camp in Siachen – the world’s highest and coldest active war zone.
According to sources, Siachen Glacier is a vital strategic location which overlooks the supply routes to Kashmir. When RAW found out that the Pakistani Army is trying to occupy it – deducing it from their order for a large supply of mountaineering equipment and so forth – so the Indian Army quickly got the required equipment and took over the Glacier. This is how the Siachen Conflict started.
For Indian forces deployed in Siachen, it is less of a challenge to watch out for the frail Pakistani forces but to just stay atop this 76 kilometers long glacier at 5, 400 meters altitude (nearly twice the altitude of Ladakh and Kargil) in itself means you have to defy all of your physical, mental and spiritual limits.
You have to be a super soldier, a hero. And that’s what each one of our soldiers out there at Siachen glacier and on posts at even greater heights really is!
1) Siachen Glacier is the world’s most highest and most extreme war zone.
The Siachen Glacier (Hindi: सियाचेन ) (Urdu:سیاچین) is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains at about , just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.
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2) Soldiers at this war zone serve amidst a temperature ranging from -50 degree celsius to – 60 degree celsius.
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3) Most of the soldiers die because of exrtreme weather conditions rather than cross firing.
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4) In Siachen, the weather is so harsh that you are at the risk of getting a deadly frostbite if your bare skin touches steel (gun trigger, for example) for just over fifteen seconds.
Merely touching the trigger or gun barrel with bare hands can be a mistake big enough to result in loss of toes or fingers. For those who are unaware of frostbite – it’s a condition resulting from abrupt exposure to extreme cold that can leave amputation of fingers or toes as the only alternative. In extreme cases, these organs may just fall off.
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4) Mountain climbers climb when the weather is at its best; soldiers serve in these treacherous terrains all year round.
While even professional climbers dread climbing in bad weather, our soldiers are on their feet, patrolling the area 365 days a year.
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5) Siachen Glacier is the world’s most highest and most extreme war zone.
Both India and Pakistan continue to deploy thousands of troops in the vicinity of Siachen and attempts to demilitarize the region have been so far unsuccessful. Prior to 1984, neither country had any military forces in this area.
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6) Siachen is the world’s largest non polar glacier
The glacier lies between theSaltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. The Saltoro Ridge originates in the north from the Sia Kangri peak on the China border in the Karakoram range.
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7) The normal oxygen level in this war zone is just about 10% of the oxygen levels at the plains.
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8) It is situated at altitude of 5400 metres, which is twice that of Ladakh and Kargil
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9) Human body cannot adapt at such an altitude of 5400 meteres.
Soldiers face several physical and mental irregularities besides which, they do not give up. They stay still on top pf the glaciers so that the opponent army does not climb up the glacier top. Yes, its very tough to stay up there. But it’s our Indian land, we do not want to let the opponent army take our grounds.
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9) In Siachen, the Indian Army spends as much as 80% of its time preparing soldiers of deployment.
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10) Fresh food is something you cannot dream about at Siachen.
Our soldiers cannot have the facility to eat even fresh fruits such as apple, orange as the food gets frozen as hard as a cricket ball within seconds.
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11) Majority of the soldiers serving in this area suffer from sleep deprivation, memory loss, severe weight loss, speech problems etc.
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12) Helicopters have only 20 to 30 seconds to drop food and other supplies to the soldiers
Getting the food at an altitude of 21,000 feet is a task in itself. Indian-made Cheetah helicopters often push well past their boundaries to drop in canned food. And if, God forbid, the weather is bad, a lot of food is swallowed by the snow.
ImgSrc – nativepakistan.com
13) Annual snowfall in Siachen is over 3 dozen feet
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14) Rifles and machine guns have to defrosted immediately in boiling water, to prevent them from jamming.
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15) In the last 30 years, 846 soldiers have sacrificed their lives at Siachen.
And it just last 3 years 50 soldiers have lost life due to extreme weather conditions and unexpected terrain conditions.
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16) Death of these soldiers are declared as war casualties although they die due to severe climate and not because of war.
When snow storms come around, at least two to three soldiers have to keep using shovels (in snow storm). Else, the military post would become a history; in no time.
To know more on how did the Siachen war actually start, read this article.
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17) Despite these extreme hostilities, the Indian Army has never experienced a shortage of volunteers to serve in Siachen. A heartfelt salute to these brave hearts!
ImgSrc – indiatimes.com