After almost two decades, the wider citizenry has been exposed to several facets of how India’s armed forces are deployed in warlike conditions in Eastern Ladakh. The deliberate and decisive deployment of the Indian Army, with its entire range of combat and engineering capabilities including tanks, towed heavy artillery guns, special forces and hardy troops in protective winter gear, has sent a strong message to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
An even more deterrent signal has been the willingness of the Indian Army to occupy tactically advantageous heights along the north and south banks of Pangang Tso. It has forced the Chinese to reevaluate their strategic game-plan, which was expected to unfold by the time winter set in. This strategic pause has helped the Indian Army dig in along the LAC and consolidate its deterrent posture.
However, what has slipped under the radar is the massive effort by the Indian Air Force in enabling, supporting and complementing this effort, both in real terms as well as coercive posturing. Never has so much load and so many personnel been flown into Ladakh by the IAF, not even in 1962. The skies over Ladakh now reverberate with the sound of Sukhois, MiG-29s, Rafales, C-17s, C-130s, Chinooks and Apaches as Leh emerges as among the busiest IAF airfields.
Images of Special Forces training with aviation elements of the Army and the IAF in the rugged terrain bear testimony to the improving synergy between the two services.