Chinese troops struggle to survive extreme cold at Indian border due to poor winter clothing

Published: November 26,2020 09:26 AM

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November 26, 2020: The PLA's misadventure in the Eastern Ladakh sector has started to cost it heavily, as inexperienced Chinese soldiers are struggling to survive in sub-zero temperatures.

November 26, 2020: The People's Liberation Army's misadventure in the Eastern Ladakh sector has started to cost it heavily, as inexperienced Chinese soldiers are struggling to survive in sub-zero temperatures, at heights of over 12,000 feet, with poor quality of clothing and accommodation.

The Indian Army's actions, particularly in Galwan and on the southern bank of Pangong Tso have put the PLA on the backfoot, forcing raw Chinese soldiers to endure a freezing winter in an inhospitable terrain, reported The Taiwan Times.

Reports indicate that casualty evacuation of PLA troops through helicopters and stretchers has been observed on a daily basis, with an average of one PLA soldier succumbing to altitude and temperature-related ailments every day. Morale and motivation at the posts have also dipped below the freezing point.

PLA commanders, who have no prior experience in high altitude and winter deployments, had initially invited local garment manufacturers to produce winter clothing for their troops deployed in Ladakh.

A Chinese mouthpiece newspaper had released a number of videos showcasing newly developed winter clothing being provided to the Chinese soldiers, as part of Chinese communist propaganda.

However, having misread the logistics requirements, local Chinese garment manufacturers produced clothing that can at best be utilised by troops deployed at 9,000 feet.

The lack of combat experience across the entire PLA is so glaring that commanders and their political masters did not realise that surviving in heights greater than 12,000 feet is totally different from equipping soldiers for operations at normal altitudes of up to 9,000 feet, reported The Taiwan Times.

A steady line of emergency medical evacuations from the PLA positions could be witnessed once the temperatures in the Ladakh region plummeted below minus 20 degrees in areas around Pangong Tso and Kailash ranges.

The Taiwan Times reported that the PLA troops deployed in Ladakh are facing an extreme shortage of specialised cold climate clothing and have been forced to go for emergency procurements, which was a drastic change from where the PLA was showing off its insular cabins and multipurpose jackets and pants on Chinese national TV a few weeks ago.

While reports indicate that PLA has constituted a Quality Supervision Team for emergency procurement of Extreme Cold Climate clothing, and has put emergency plans in place, China's difficulties in dealing with high altitude and inclement weather will only increase with time and the current steps taken by them are just an indicator of the problems to come.

The Chinese and Indian troops are engaged in a stand-off since early May along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

The situation along the LAC deteriorated in June following the Galwan Valley clash in which both sides suffered casualties.