As border tensions with China spiked last month, the Indian Army asked the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to speed up deliveries of Extreme Cold Climate (ECC) clothing. The army had, in June, moved in two infantry divisions (over 30,000 soldiers) into the Ladakh sector to beef up the two existing divisions under the Leh-based 14 Corps.
One of these existing divisions faces Pakistan, the other China. The 14 Corps began an enhanced winter stocking last month to cater to twice as many troops. Winter stocking usually begins in June and takes nearly four months to complete, until the onset of winter in September.
Petrol, kerosene, grain and pulses are trucked into Leh and stored for the winter, when the mountain passes leading into Kashmir and Ladakh are blocked by heavy snowfall. It takes a soldier at the heights a total of 800 kilos of provisions to last through the winter.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are flown in by IAF heavy lift aircraft from Chandigarh. Apart from food, there is the need to protect forward deployed soldiers from the elements—Ladakh’s brutal high-altitude winter.