Siachen: Strategic importance

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Sakal Gharelu Ustad, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    I have tried to go through other threads in the forum and other stuff on the internet but did not find good answers to the strategic importance of Siachen glacier. The debates on DFI or other forums are long and winding, so here I am trying to narrow down the issue of Siachen to strategic importance.

    This post gives some idea, but not sufficient: http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...r-highest-battleground-earth-3.html#post64242

    Another one: http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...-highest-battleground-earth-8.html#post478536

    So, let us discuss how the occupation of Siachen glacier is tactically important vis-a-vis:
    1) Pakistan
    2) China

    I do not think in case of a war, any of these countries can approach from the Siachen glacier as there are better and faster routes available for access to Leh. Similarly, India would also not choose these high passes of Siachen for its thrust during wartime. So, what tactical advantages does Siachen actually offer? Would the defensive lines in Ladakh and Zanskar ranges be less efficient? But if we can have two defensive lines in place of one, it would probably be better to go for two lines since in mountain warfare it would drain a lot of enemy resources to move from one to the other.

    Another question that might help, what is the diplomatic leverage of Siachen on Kashmir issue? Does it dilute the Kashmir issue when Pak starts to talk about Siachen and not Kashmir?

    So, do not diverge from the topic and specially do not rant about:
    1) environmental issues(there are other bigger issues affecting the world than troops on one glacier)
    2) wastage of economic resources(because India can very well afford it and is probably a good training ground for our soldiers)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
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  3. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Nice thread @Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Holding Siachen is like holding a citadel and there by blocking the advancement of the enemies, particularly if China and Pakistan attack at the same time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  4. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    As far as blocking a joint strike is concerned, in my opinion Ladakh to the east of Siachen is of higher value.
    I cannot imagine the IA maneuver swiftly, even when divided in the Kashmiri geographia - between the Valley on one side and Ladakhi plains on the other.
    Nevertheless, Siachen cannot be vacated. If one of the doors gives you a hard time in locking etc; you don't stop operating that door and leave it open.
    Siachen is indeed a door. A tough one may be, but many armies have achieved the impossible before.
    Moreover, we never know so well as to what leaps technology has taken in the defense labs.
    It is not wise to consider Siachen impregnable, for Siachen is not the ends but the means.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
  5. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    As you pointed out, there are two aspects of the Siachin debate, the diplomatic and the military.

    As far as Military importance goes, the importance is more strategic than tactical. This might sound a little weird but bear with me.

    Make no mistake, Siachin is tactically advantageous being the higher ground
     
  6. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    It is an excellent position to defend against an enemy. But it is also a very difficult position to launch attacks from. Two factors collude to this difficulty....
    1. The sheer isolation and difficulty of moving assets.
    2. The need for acclamatisation.

    Due to the base being only accessible by air, it takes considerably longer time to mobilise the resources to sustain a large assault force. And even then, if the army does manage to mobilise the assets in record time, the assault cannot commence until the troops are acclamatised to the brutal conditions of Siachin. Wait for acclamatisation for around 2 weeks, and there is every chance the enemy will notice the abnormally large force. Mission in deep jeopardy

    On the other hand, if the troops move out for assault without acclamatisation, he will more likely collapse due to altitude sickness than to bullets. Mission failed.

    It is due to this reason that Siachin, though a tactically advantageous position for defence, is not tactically important for offense.

    However, what it lacks for tactical importance, it more than makes up with the Strategic importance.

    Certain locations in and around Siachin are perfect Radar sites.

    The maximum distance from which an object may be observed is given by

    [​IMG]

    Where D is distance between observer and object (in kilometers)
    And hB is height of observer and hL is height of object from ground (both in metres)

    Thus for a radar at an elevation of 100m will spot a fighter flying at 10m altitude from 47 km. The same radar, assuming it is powerful enough, at an elevation of 1000m will spot the fighter at 124km.

    In case of Siachin, where Sites are as high as 5000m, it is theoreticzlly possible to spot a fighter at 263km. This does not mean that the radar range increases with altitude, but rather the increased range of line of sight allows the radar to spot objects flying much lower, much earlier.

    Then there is also the importance of the airspace over Siachin. Any attacking AC from Pak, if it flies low, cannot initiate communication with its command or ground troops as there is no line of sight, either directly or indirectly. This makes CAS difficult, especially since PAF has no sat of their own. The AC will have to climb higher and risk detection to link up.

    In the case of IAF, a communications dish on one of those sights will allow seamless connectivity for the ACs, enabling them to remain low and avoid detection.
     
  7. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Siachin consist of many bases at different altitudes within the high alti zone..

    There are 105mm guns deployed so does AAA and MANPADs..

    The Area itself a small warzone, One can attack and mobalise forces on others post at similar altitude ( Remember the assault of Bana Singh ) ..

    Its another Thar desert but of snow and mountains and lot lesser air to breath on..

    ==================

    Snow scooters, Rifles, LMG, RL & Guns from 105mm to 23mm are operational there at very high level of maintenance due to intense cold temp..

    But they work, But there are some post where some of these cannot be taken and only basic small arms works..
     
  8. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    May be there are some good radar locations but it can be true for a lot of locations in Ladakh..Isn't it more difficult to install and maintain radars in Siachen? Can we expect it would be an easy task during a war?
     
  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    The establishment of our post in Siachen, signifies our changing stance. We gave away Aksai Chin, because it was barren.

    But our continued presence in Siachen is a signal, that we will not back down anymore. And any chance we get, we will take back occupied territories.
     
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  10. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    Everyone knows IA is well capable of holding on to Siachen. And as you said east of Siachen is more important, then the question arises what specific purpose does Siachen serves? We keep hearing in all discussions that it is very important, but the question is why.
     
  11. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Its location, which is between POK and Aksai Chin which prevent PA and PLA link up via ground and Air..

    One cannot ignore it and move forward as this area will pound back whats below, That is why its important strategically as well as tactically..

    -------------------

    Lose this and we will lose first Ladak and NH-1 then the Kashmir and portion of Jammu, Within days Delhi will be within reach..

     
  12. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Transkarakoram Tract can easily be used for this. Siachen is not feasible for this.
     
  13. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    They need to link up Inside Indian territory, To conduct further operation to siege NH-1 and Ladak..

    It is true that they can link up outside our territory, But that link up cannot be successful, they need to counter siachen first..

    If Siachen falls, Then both armies can maneuver without Major resistance in that area..

    ==============

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


     
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  14. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    True, it is fairly difficult to access the suitable sites in Siachin. But I believe you are expecting the positioning of the traditional Immovable radar systems that form the current backbone of our AD. This is certainly one option, but there is also the option of deploying mobile Radar systems, especially the new ones in development to control the LR-SAMs.

    In either case, if Artillery and their fire control radars can be lifted to Siachin, the deployment of radars shouldn't be an impossible task.

    As far as sites in Ladakh are concerned, yes they are easier to access, but you must remember that there are higher mountain ranges that block the line of sight, creating large blind spots in radar coverage. Furthermore, ACs and helis will prefer to use the seperation between individual mountains to avoid radar.

    This is the reason why mountainous regions require higher number of radars distributed over more sites as compared to plain areas to achieve comparable coverage.
    A radar site at Ladakh is very capable, but cannot cover the entire area that the radar sweeps due to blind spots.

    The best example of this would be Parvez Musharraf entering Indian territory before Kargil. And even before that, there were several intrusions into our side of LOC which could not be detected.
     
  15. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Siachen can act as a Fortress, since it will take much effort and time to sub due it , nor the enemy can afford to leave it unconquered in case of invasion.
     
  16. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    Mostbof us, including myself look upon Siachin as a militarily vital post. It is by no means a false arguement that its control is crucial. @Kunal Sir has already given an overview of the strategic importance of Siachin to the security of Kashmir.

    But there is also the diplomatic/Political importance of the glacier, which IMO is even more important in the long term, even so far as having a major impact on the process of resolution of Kashmir dispute, when the time for it finally arises. @Singh Sir has already made a remark about it.

    Lets for a moment consider the following scenario.....

    We agree to pakistan's proposal to withdraw from Siachin, without authenticating AGPL positions. It would be a unilateral withdrawal as Pak is not on the glacier. Now two possibilities arise.....

    1. Siachin is monitored by both sides and Pak judiciously follows the treaty.

    In this case, The Pak establishment gets a major boost. It has managed (read forced) to get the bigger and more powerful India to agree in totality to their demands. Their demands therefore come across as legitimate and India becomes the war-monger opportunistic side. Public confidence in Pak soars. They are victorious in the battle for Siachin.

    The Indian govt. has now set a precedent for resolution of disputes. It has effectively agreed to back down and retreat in negotiaions. Essentially India has agreed to derecognise claims over their own territory. It does not take too long or too much for a precedent to become the norm in International eyes.

    Back in Pakistan, there is a surge in ideas that the whole of Kashmir must too be unilaterally surrendered by India. Sachin has proved that Indian claims over the region are illegitimate. There now is a powerful current for the govt. To generate similar resolution of the Kashmir. The idea of compromise will find few takers within Pakistan.

    2. India withdraws, and soon after this, Pak occupies the territory, claiming Indian withdrawl as admission by India of its acceptance of illegitimacy of their claim.

    Now the mood within and outside the Pak military establishment is one of great military victory. There will be a growing belief that Kashmir can be taken militarily. The govt. Will be urged to wage the final war to free Kashmir. The will of the Pak govt. And the Army to negotiate a peacefull resolution will die a swift death. Afterall, they have managed to retake a part of Kashmir.

    In Kashmir itself, Seperatists, buoyed by the success of Pak, will declare openly independence ftom India. Militant activity and moral will peak.

    Indian Govt. is now embaressed internationally. They have managed, despite all odds, to lose a piece of territory so well secured. They may order a campign to recapture the territory back, but the Army may refuse, citing operational unfeasibility. Under such conditions, there will be no other choice to invade POK proper to recover some of the losses.

    Fact is The way we settle Siachin will dictate to a large extent how we solve Kashmir itself. Our decisions here will reflect on the whole state. Anyone who suggets that Siachin can be resolved to build trust will be better off understanding the implications of the decision on the fate of the state.
     
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  17. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    We don't have the kind of equipment to thwart any major advance in Siachen. Its one of the most hostile region known to man. They will not be using it for ingress, and our camps can be taken out with just a single attack helo.

    Unless, China and Pakistan follow Hannibal strategy.

    A better area for them would be a two pronged attack.

    Nubra Valley from China, and along Shyok River, and then link up inside and cut off Siachen without firing a single bullet.
     
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  18. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Siachen is very strong IA base, Supplement by Arty and Air-defense, And has Air-Support..

    @Ray Sir, Can shed more light on the bases fire projection..

     
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  19. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Siachen must be a challenge to IA Medical Corps. Any DFI members have some insights to the problems and what is being done for the hardships of troops in that environment?
     
  20. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Ankit Purohit and W.G.Ewald like this.
  21. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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