Indian, British troops engage in high-altitude joint drill


Srinagar : Soldiers from India and Britain Monday began joint training in high altitude warfare in the Ladakh Himalayas as part of the ongoing military co-operation between the two countries.

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An Indian Army spokesman here told newsmen Monday evening that the exercise, codenamed Himalayan Warrior, “has been planned to focus on training in super high altitude areas.”

“The Royal Marines are likely to be deployed shortly in such extreme altitudes. The joint training is being conducted over a period of five weeks around Leh.

“Initially, the two companies (of troops, one from each country) would be put through the acclimatization process to enable them get used to the rarefied atmosphere at these altitudes. A four-week rigorous training program would follow this stage,” the spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the primary objective of the joint training was to enable both sides to “understand each others’ strengths while operating in terrain with rugged ridges, reaching heights of 20,000 feet plus, interspersed with hazardous glaciers.

“Understanding the capabilities of weapons and equipment held by the two armies forms an essential part of this interaction. Firing with each others’ weapons would also be a major highlight of the training. The training will also expose the British troops to the extremely low temperatures in the Ladakh region,” the spokesman pointed out.

Instructors from the High Altitude Warfare School at Sonamarg would conduct the joint training in specialized aspects such as rock-craft, snow and glacier operations.

The Indian soldiers would share their experiences of operating in some of the world’s most difficult areas, including the world’s highest altitude battlefield – the Siachen glacier – with the British soldiers.

“Both groups of soldiers are expected to immensely benefit from the expertise acquired by the other in the conduct of operations in mountainous terrain,” the spokesman said.

The Royal Marines are Britain’s amphibious infantry and, along with the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service. They are also specialists in mountain and Arctic warfare.

A key element in Britain’s Rapid Deployment Force, the Royal Marines are able to operate independently in all types of terrain.

Similarly, the Indian airborne forces participating in the exercise are especially trained high altitude warfare troops capable of operating independently in varied snow-bound mountainous regions.