As the border remains tense in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army has stocked up on special clothing, diet and shelter for the long haul to battle the harsh winter at heights exceeding 12,000 feet and temperature as extreme as minus 50 degrees Celsius.
The enhanced troop deployment is likely to continue for months, sources said, as there are enough supplies of high altitude equipment and gear that can last a year at least.
The force has stocked up these items for around 35,000 extra troops deployed at the forward locations. Most of the friction points in Ladakh like Pangong Lake and Galwan Valley where the face-offs have happened are located 14,000 feet above sea level.
Further, local residents in Ladakh have volunteered to help the Indian Army to provide logistic support at the forward areas when and where required.
The force has incurred an estimated expenditure of around Rs 400 crore for providing special winter clothing to cater to the enhanced deployment. The cost per soldier for special clothing equipment to brave the harsh winter is around Rs 1 lakh.
To meet clothing and sheltering requirements for operations in these areas, Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME) at a cost of around Rs 1 lakh per set is provided to each soldier.
The winter clothing and gear includes special three-layered jackets and trousers, boots, snow goggles, facemasks, rucksacks and others.
The SCME set also comprises snow clothing and equipment for survival, resuscitation, rescue, mountaineering equipment and tents.
Temperature-controlled special tents and pre-fabricated huts are also provided. These can maintain the optimum temperature at the freezing heights where oxygen levels are also low, as in Ladakh.
Rations scaled to soldiers have been scientifically designed and evolved to provide adequate nutrients and to cater for the daily routine, training and for operating in different terrain conditions.
The scientifically-formulated special diet consist of high calorific and nutrient value items to offset the loss of appetite and reduced intake of food which soldiers suffer in such a climate.
A total of 33 groups of items are authorised daily in high altitude areas.
Also there are other items of rations not listed in the scale of rations as demanded by units to meet the taste of troops that can be issued post sanction.