Siachen Glacier : The Highest battleground on Earth

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by A.V., Mar 11, 2009.

  1. wild goose

    wild goose Regular Member

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  2. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    PM's ex-aide Sanjaya Baru blames ‘hawkish’ Antony, Army for scuttling Manmohan Singh's Siachen initiative, Gen JJ Singh hits back

    PM's ex-aide Sanjaya Baru blames ‘hawkish’ Antony, Army for scuttling Manmohan Singh's Siachen initiative, Gen JJ Singh hits back - The Times of India

    NEW DELHI: It's well-known that PM Manmohan Singh was very keen to convert Siachen into "a mountain of peace" after visiting the forbidding glacial heights in June 2005. But the Indian defence establishment was equally adamant that Pakistan would have to first authenticate the relative troop positions before any withdrawal from the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge.

    Indian soldiers, after all, controlled almost all the dominating heights, ranging from 16,000 to 22,000-feet, on the Saltoro Ridge region. But with Pakistan unwilling to give ironclad guarantees on existing troop positions, the PM's dream slowly ebbed away and perished.

    The PM's media adviser during UPA-I, Sanjaya Baru, has now set the cat among the pigeons by holding that Manmohan Singh's peace initiative for the world's highest and coldest battlefield was effectively torpedoed by the "hawkish" position of defence minister AK Antony, as also his predecessor Pranab Mukherjee, as well as the then Army chief General JJ Singh.

    "I was never sure whether Antony's hawkish stance was because he genuinely disagreed with the Siachen initiative or whether he was merely toeing a Nehru-Gandhi family line that would not allow Dr Singh to be the one finally normalizing relations with Pakistan. After all, the Kashmir problem had its roots in Nehru's policies ... I felt Sonia would want to wait till Rahul became PM so that he could claim credit," writes Baru, in his new book "The Accidental Prime Minister".

    Both Mukerjee and Antony, as successive defence ministers in UPA-I, were not enthusiastic about a deal on Siachen, though Sonia had "blessed"" the peace formula. Moreover, the PM also had to contend with "a declining quality" in military leadership. "In closed-door briefings, the general would say that a deal with Pakistan was doable, but in public he would back Antony when the defence minister chose not to back the PM," says Baru.

    Gen Singh, who was the Army chief from 2005 to 2007 and Arunachal Pradesh governor till last year, hit back on Saturday. "What does he (Baru) know? What are his qualifications to pass such sweeping judgements and make disparaging statements on the military leadership? Does he have any idea what leadership is all about?" said Gen Singh, talking to TOI.

    Dismissing Baru's knowledge of classified matters, Gen Singh said the military had given "perfectly sound advice" to the PM on the Siachen imbroglio. "We said unless Pakistan authenticates the troop positions, both on the ground and maps, there was no question of any withdrawal," the former Army chief said.

    And even if Pakistan agreed to this pre-condition, the disengagement and demilitarization of the Siachen could only be done in a phased manner. "If Pakistan tried to indulge in some misadventure (to take the heights), the response and reaction time of our troops would have to be factored in. I am happy India's continues with the same stand," said Gen Singh.
     
  3. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    So Muni Mon Singh wanted to gift Siachin to his Pindi Brothers...

    Another Prithaviraj Syndrome
     
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  4. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Do Sardar, on Siachen



    Ek Asardar

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    Aur EK Bekaar



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    :sad::sad::sad:
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The pull of the heart for Gau should not be at the Nation's expense by gifting away Siachen so that Pakistan wrest the same later to have a link to China.

    Just indicates how little of strategy or geostrategy these politicians and PMs understand.
     
  6. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Its worst than this.

    Prithaviraj rather had many things on stakes but this man is a rubber stamp of Italian Sonia Gandhi who had the access and authority to take such decisions; a national security threat, ironically thrust upon by Indian Hindus who begged her to join the politics. May be that begging was scripted.

    People who were part of this multi billion corporation Congress-I wanted it be like it or were to become defunct. Its rather curse of this land, to be ruled by proxies and women of King's Harem when King himself wouldn't give any squat.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Why look at the issue from a 'Hindu' standpoint for joining politics?

    I don't think there is any religious reasons as such. It is just that she is a very crafty woman, who pretending to be a very desirous of socially empowering person was actually working to wipe out the coffers of the country and bring it into a chaotic state, which she has achieved. One cannot be so daft as to not realise that money goes that far and not more. Therefore, one wonders who is actually 'controlling' her. Reminds me of the infamous Hope Cooke the Gyalmo of Sikkim, who was deeply in love with the Sikkim King and married him even though she was miles junior in age, And she took off back home, once the King was deposed. Some love indeed!

    The present mood in the country is not for BJP, it is for seeking a saviour. And Modi fits the bill and so is popular.

    The Economist and Western media and journalists are using the fear factor to do down Modi since if India recovers, it will not be in a position where foreign nations, particularly the western nations, will not be able to call the tune.

    I believe the Coal Secretary is also publishing his 'memoirs' which will be out on Monday.

    More revelations and more facts to realise who put the fire under India's backside!

    Maybe it will help us to understand, why?
     
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  8. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Sir,

    I apologies for giving it a religious outlook and singling out Hindu politicians for begging her, but I being a Hindu myself feel more comfortable to tell Hindus who otherwise are showing there frustration against her and associate themselves with so called phenomenon of rise of Hindu nationalism as a force against such corny organizations that they/we were the same Hindus who begged her to join politics in the first place.

    I remember telling my dad over the phone to vote Manmohan Singh for the second time. Though hindsight is bitch, but I was so wrong being not able to see impending disaster which was being buffered by gains made by VBP's NDA and P.V. Narasimha Rao, at that time; which gradually faded away by the time UPA 2 started.

    I hope I am making sense.

    Regards.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
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  9. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    The aetiology of recent demise of Indian economy is going to surface one by one.The pieces of this puzzle which people have been implicitly conjoining are going to reveal itself with explicit references.

    I am more worried about next government and people of India (that is too much of asking) not keeping the accounts of it and punishing the culprits. I am more worried about Prithviraj Syndrome of would be non congress/UPA (if it will be case) government, letting them go off the hook easily; which has been the case with both side of the politics whenever they come into power.

    I want this election to be fought on more bitter with no political correctness methods so that the new PM (Modi) avenge these thugs with extreme prejudice.
     
  10. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    DEFENCE | Siachen Handout: Bartering India’s Security?

    THE 50TH anniversary of the 1962 Sino-Indian War has evoked a feeling of anger–not so much at the Chinese, but towards our own leadership that failed the country in the most shocking manner. Amidst the groundswell of emotion that swept through the print and electronic media, the three Service Chiefs and the Defence Minister finally lined up and saluted the dead!

    Since Independence, the Indian soldier has been called upon time and again to risk his life for cleaning-up the mess heaped by our blundering ‘civilian leadership’. Examples are endless: ceasefire in 1949 when Indian troops were poised to regain the whole of Jammu and Kashmir; the Tashkent Agreement ‘returning’ to Pakistan vital posts like Haji Pir and Black Rock in Kargil in 1965; repatriation of 93,000 POWs to Pakistan in 1971 without ensuring the return of our own men (some of whom are still languishing in Pakistani jails). The list can be quite exhaustive. Now, ironically, as we mourn our dead in NEFA and Ladakh, the Government is poised to get into another deep mess. Quite frankly, if the latest PMO initiative on the so-called demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier is pushed through, it could well be a real quagmire!

    Next to its obsession with Kashmir since 1947, Siachen has been the biggest bone that is stuck in Pakistan’s throat since it ‘lost’ the glacier to the Indian Army in 1984. For years, talks between the two countries have been held on the issue and after the Kargil War in 1999, the situation on the ground had more or less stabilised itself. Then most incredibly, since November 2011, rumours of an impending ‘settlement’ on Siachen began to surface. Then odd articles began to appear in the media, mainly questioning the wisdom of having gone into the area in 1984, while focusing on the expense factor–both material and in terms of human lives–always implying that India was sitting on a wasteland that had little or no strategic value.

    All this time, meetings between Indian and Pakistani Track II members were indeed being held to discuss various confidence building measures, among which Siachen was a key issue. Dubai (September 2011), Bangkok (February), Chiang Mai (April) and Palo Alto (July) preceded the Lahore meeting on September 23-25, where a formal agreement to demilitarise Siachen was inked. That the Lahore delegation was acting on a pre-determined brief was fairly obvious, for the handshake was done despite the strong reservations expressed by certain key members of the delegation.

    The Lahore agreement was virtually kept under wraps, but the Atlantic Council of Canada that acted as a ‘peace-broker’ on Siachen let the cat out of the bag. The composition of the Indian delegation was, to put it mildly, incongruous–for despite an impressive array of ranks (including a retired Air Chief), none of the Army officers had ever served in the region. The Pakistani side, on the contrary, was led by General Jehangir Karamat, a former Army Chief, who understands the strategic implications of the Siachen region.

    Says General V K Singh, India’s Army Chief till recently: “Let us first be very clear as to who is asking for this so-called demilitarisation. The Pakistanis are not on the Siachen glacier, but are west of the Saltoro Range. Contrary to what they want their own people to believe, they have a zero presence in Siachen. I wonder if demilitarisation will also result in Pakistan withdrawing from Baltistan, pulling back to the west towards the Karakoram Highway? Until recently, they had even refused to accept the AGPL for verification of who is where. It is ludicrous that in such circumstances we are talking of demilitarisation and withdrawal. Our troops are well-established and administratively well-off, so what is the rational to pull them out of the area?”

    Lt General PC Katoch, a former commander of the Siachen Brigade adds: “For decades, India has always distrusted the Atlantic Council, which is perceived to be in bed with the Pakistani military. In this arrangement, Pakistan has grabbed the strategic opportunity to attain all its key goals. It is surmised that the Prime Minister is aiming for a Nobel Peace Prize to recover the legitimacy his Government has lost after a succession of scandals.”

    Post the Shimla Agreement in 1972, delineation of the line of control (LC) between India and Pakistan extended up to NJ 9842. Beyond this, the two sides agreed that the LC would run ‘thenceforth north’. This clearly implied that the boundary would follow the ridgeline to the north along the Saltoro, but subsequently both Pakistani and USAF maps drew a lateral line from NJ 9842 directly to the KK Pass, which implied that the area belonged to Pakistan. A subsequent mountaineering expedition to Siachen found plenty of evidence of activity east of the Saltoro. Given the extreme conditions in what was at that time often referred to as the ‘third pole’, the Indian Army pulled off one of the most innovative and daring operations by pre-empting the Pakistani Army, which was rushing to occupy the heights that would dominate the glacier.

    Having been beaten at their own game (as acknowledged by President Parvez Musharaff in his book), the Pakistani Army subsequently succeeded in establishing a foothold on the 22,143 feet Qaid-e-Azam post, its only real significant position on the Saltoro at that time. In 1987, in what surely must rank as one of the most incredible military operations, men from 8 JAK LI pulled off the near impossible and wrested it from Pakistan. Re-named ‘Bana Top’ after Subedar Bana Singh, who led the attack, even today Pakistan does not acknowledge its loss. After all the fighting on the glacier over the years, the bottom line is that Pakistan has no worthwhile presence on the Saltoro!

    As for Baltistan, Pakistan’s position is precarious, as its anti-Shia policies over the years have alienated it from the local population. Most observers believe that even maintaining its current position west of Saltoro is becoming untenable. Watchdog groups in the West, along with a few vernacular Pakistani newspapers, have been regularly reporting on parleys to hand over the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region to China on a 50-year lease. It is perhaps pertinent to point out that the Shaksgam Valley (to the immediate north of the Siachen region) was ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 while the area to the east was occupied by the PLA in 1962 to provide depth to the Western Highway.

    In an ever-changing geo-political scenario, to look at Siachen only from an India-Pakistan perspective is absurd, especially as Chinese footprints over the entire Northern Areas are getting more and more obvious. From the US point of view, the geo-political relationship between them and Pakistan has always revolved around the Gilgit-Baltistan region. A counter-balance and a possible launching pad against Tibet (perceived to be China’s soft underbelly), the Northern Areas have always been the hub around which the ‘great game’ is being or was played.

    Talk of leasing the region to China cannot be lost on the Americans, who would be desperate to keep Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan and keep the Chinese out, especially as China is today also making serious attempts to cut its way through the Wakhan corridor into Afghanistan. By getting India to take a step back on Siachen, it gives the Pakistan leadership the incentive to hold on to the region, for the border with north-western Ladakh, which is currently static, becomes active again. In the guise of ‘peace moves’, the new situation sought to be thrust upon us is far more dangerous. India has never understood the British concept of pushing its frontiers out, and has a history of losing ground regularly. As defence analyst Maroof Raza points out, Siachen has been the one exception where India has gained ground since Independence.

    Over the years, subsequent Army Chiefs, including the current COAS General Bikram Singh, have categorically rejected the demilitarisation of Siachen. Says an incensed General VK Singh: “Have the proposers of such recommendations ever visited or stayed at the glacier or the higher posts? Has our trust deficit with Pakistan disappeared? Please remember what happened after PM Vajpaye's visit to Lahore. We must also be clear on the implications of this to our stand on the Shaksgam Valley. Has the government or the Track II team sent by it decided that we have no further claim on POK? Let us not get carried away by what can at best be described as sentimental hogwash.”

    This brings us to the issue as to whether India has a foreign policy and architecture that serves the nation’s security and self-interest!

    Let us look at the Government’s self-sacrificing relationship with the US. It is genuflection, prostration and crawling all the way, as the ‘reform cacophony’ emanating from the Prime Minister and his drum-beaters clearly indicate. The Indo-US Nuclear deal by buying Parliament votes and ramming in FDI-in-retail by totally ignoring the ‘sense of the nation’ are standing examples. And the Prime Minister nearly signed the Nuclear Liability Convention that gives immunity to US companies setting up nuclear power plants in India! As for Russia, the PMO is falling head over heels and is letting loose the worst forms of oppression and repression on the ordinary farmer-fisherfolk who are protesting against the unsafe Russia-built Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. A Minister of State in the PMO has been put in charge of supervising this!
    On the China front, the PMO’s dealings appear mysterious. India actively facilitated Sri Lankan Army’s fight-to-the-finish against the Tamils using Chinese weapons. India acted as China’s surrogate in the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Commission to defend, protect and uphold Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity. India worked with China for a $2.6 billion IMF bailout loan to Sri Lanka to cover these expenses. India endorsed Chinese-type rule of oppression, repression, torture and concentration camps in Sri Lanka. All these have resulted in India losing its hold over Sri Lanka, which has now come under virtual Chinese hegemony.

    Now, by handing out the Siachen glacier, India is giving up its main leverage
    against Pakistan without gaining anything in return. The ‘Siachen egg’ that UPA lays
    in the last days of its reign can emerge as a monster of epic proportions,
    severely haunting national security.

    Here then are the pointed questions. Can a small cabal take such monumental decisions that concern the nation’s sovereignty and foreign policy without involving the ‘People, Parliament and President of India’? Can they keep on bulldozing Generals and civilians who come in their way of bartering nation’s security for a mess of pottage? Sooner the answer is given, the better!
     
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  11. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Siachen dispute: India and Pakistan’s glacial fight

    BBC News - Siachen dispute: India and Pakistan’s glacial fight

    On 13 April 1984, Indian troops snatched control of the Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, narrowly beating Pakistan.

    Thirty years later, the two sides remain locked in a standoff, but the Indian army mountaineer who inspired the operation says his country must hang on whatever the cost.

    Virtually hidden from public view, the world's highest conflict is moving into its fourth decade.

    The struggle between India and Pakistan over the Siachen glacier has even spawned a new term: "oropolitics", or mountaineering with a political goal.

    High-altitude war

    Derived from the Greek for mountain, Indian army colonel Narendra Kumar can justly claim to be its modern father, because his pioneering explorations paved the way for India to take the glacier in early 1984.

    But what started as a battle with crampons and climbing rope has turned into high-altitude trench warfare, with the two rival armies frozen - often literally - in pretty much the same positions as 30 years ago.

    The vast majority of the estimated 2,700 Indian and Pakistani troop deaths have not been due to combat but avalanches, exposure and altitude sickness caused by the thin, oxygen-depleted air.

    "It's been a shocking waste of men and money", says a former senior Indian army officer and Siachen veteran.

    "A struggle of two bald men over a comb" is the verdict of Stephen Cohen, a US specialist on South Asia, dismissing the Siachen as "not militarily important".

    This would perhaps be comforting if the two combatants did not both have nuclear weapons.

    Surrounded by photographs and memorabilia of his climbing exploits, Col Kumar, now in his 80s, says the struggle was critical to preventing Pakistani encroachment into northern Kashmir.

    As with so many long-running conflicts, it began with an undefined border.

    In the late-1970s, a German mountaineer showed Col Kumar a US-drawn map of northern Kashmir marking the Indian-Pakistan ceasefire line much further to the east than he expected. It appeared the Americans had cartographically ceded a large chunk of the eastern Karakoram to Pakistan, including the Siachen glacier.

    "I bought the German's map and sent it straight to the director general of military operations," says Col Kumar, then in charge of the Indian army's mountain warfare school. "I said I would organise an expedition to the area to correct the map!"

    But despite several ceasefire agreements India and Pakistan have never officially demarcated the "Line of Control" in the extreme north of Kashmir, including the Siachen. And both sides publish different maps depicting their version of the geography.

    With its ally China to the north, Pakistan was first to see the potential for oropolitics in this strategic vacuum.

    Throughout the 1970s, it gave permits to foreign mountaineers to climb around the glacier, fostering the impression this was Pakistani territory - until Col Kumar sounded the alarm.

    But when he got permission for a counter-expedition in 1978, it quickly leaked across the border. "As we reached the Siachen, Pakistani helicopters were flying over us," Col Kumar smiled, "and they were firing out coloured smoke."

    This and rubbish left by previous climbing teams convinced him the Pakistanis were stealthily taking over.

    But at first, he complains, Indian generals would not take him seriously. Then in early 1981, Col Kumar was given the go-ahead to map the entire glacier, all the way to the Chinese border.

    This time there were no leaks. And the following year he wrote up his expedition in a mountaineering magazine, in effect staking India's claim.

    With the Indian army now clearly involved, the Pakistanis were determined to entrench their claim. They might have succeeded if Indian intelligence had not learned of some interesting shopping in the UK in early 1984.

    "We came to know the Pakistanis were buying lots of specialist mountain clothing in London," grins Col Kumar. A retired Pakistani colonel later admitted they had blundered by using the same store as the Indians.

    India immediately despatched troops to the Siachen, beating Pakistan by a week. By then they had already got control of the glacier and the adjacent Saltoro ridge, using Col Kumar's maps. One of the key Indian installations on the Siachen today is named Kumar Base after him.

    A Pakistani counter-attack led by a Brig Gen Pervez Musharraf a few years later was one of several that failed to dislodge the Indians. Since a ceasefire deal in 2003, the Pakistanis have given up trying.

    But though both sides are now better at coping with the extreme environment, it still claims the lives of dozens of soldiers each year.

    Because it occupies the harder-to-supply higher ground, India pays the heaviest financial price, currently estimated to be around $1m (£0.6m) a day.

    "With all the money we have spent in Siachen, we could have provided clean water and electricity to half the country," says the former Indian army officer.

    Both armies, he says, ensure their "heroic narratives" of the conflict dominate by limiting media access to the Siachen.

    Any hints of a thaw, most recently when Pakistan lost 140 soldiers in an avalanche, have always faded away.

    The Siachen is just the coldest of several fronts in the frozen conflict over Kashmir, with neither India or Pakistan prepared to take the first step.

    "There will be no movement on Siachen until there's movement on everything else," predicts a former senior Indian intelligence officer.

    In the meantime, Col Kumar says India should be consolidating its position on the Siachen, by allowing more foreign mountaineers to climb there.
     
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  12. Hari Sud

    Hari Sud Senior Member Senior Member

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    I do not believe in BBC reporting. Siachen is no longer a battleground. No live fire exchanges happen. Pakistan has given up trying to reach the heights. Last fight was at the Banna Post some 20 years back. There, Subedar Banna, forced them out of clse proximity of Indian posts. Later, A cleverly place Indian Artillery forced Pakistanis to relocate far far away from the heights. Hence to call it a battleground is stupid. It is Pakistani military diplomacy which keeps this issue alive. They like to grab Kashmir thru militancy and Siachen thru international diplomacy. BBC never talks about Falkland Island dispute with Argentina, although Argentina lost it militarily in 1980 but never gave up the claim, then why this affinity to Siachen and call it a battleground. It proves that BBC is in bed Pakistani military and wishes to keep,the issue alive.
     
  13. janme

    janme Regular Member

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    How Pakistan managed to get in bed with BBC??
     
  14. Hari Sud

    Hari Sud Senior Member Senior Member

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    Janme

    The West generally is anti Indian and these type of stories are great for them. You will never see BBC talk about Falkland Island in the same manner and attitude.
     
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  15. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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  16. arp2041

    arp2041 Regular Member

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  17. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    Got my copy of " Beyond NJ9842 The Siachen Saga" by Nitin A. Gokhale published by Bloomsbury India, today and currently going through it. Has been a interesting read till now.
     
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  18. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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  19. blueblood

    blueblood Senior Member Senior Member

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    Some older pics of Madras Regiment's stint at Siachen. Hope it's not a repost.

    Courtesy : The Madras Regiment (Madras Regiment.Org)



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  20. blueblood

    blueblood Senior Member Senior Member

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