The Indian Armed Forces are the prime guardians of our national integrity and sovereignty. The Armed Forces, consisting of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Coast Guard, are widely respected for their bravery, discipline, and unconditional patriotic values. From controlling the world’s highest battlefield in Siachen, to executing the world’s biggest helicopter rescue mission in the form of Operation Rahat, the Indian Armed Forces have fought adversities and locked horns with intruding enemy forces to ensure a safe and secure India for all of us. But did you know about the inclement weather conditions which the Armed Forces face for you? The biggest voluntary army in the world guards the entire length and breadth of the country including places which face extreme weather conditions. We bring you ten weather extremities which the Armed Forces brave in order to protect and serve!
The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range at a height of 5,753 meters i.e. a stupendous 18, 875 feet above sea level. The average winter snowfall in the region exceeds 1000 cm and temperatures can dip to as low as -50°C. Soldiers even die from harsh weather conditions in the region. Prior to their deployment in the Siachen region, soliders have to undergo a training camp which helps them acclimatize to the conditions in the region. Despite extreme weather conditions, the Indian Army guards and controls the region in order to score a strategic advantage over its enemies.
Dras is a small town with a population 1,021 and is situated in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The Gateway to Ladakh observes a sub-arctic climate and is known as the second coldest inhabited place in the world. The temperatures in the region remain in single digits throughout the year, barring a couple of months. The Indian Armed Forces have maintained a growing presence in the region, especially after Pakistan’s failed Kargil incursion in 1999.
Indo-Pak Border, Rajasthan
The Indian Armed Forces guard the Indo-Pakistani border in Rajasthan amidst extremely hot weather conditions. Temperature shoot up to 50°C in some regions while dust storms, sand storms, and the blistering heat combine to make the desert region an unfit place for habitation altogether. The Armed Forces patrol these long borders even with such inclement weather beating down on them.
Indo-Chinese Border, Arunachal Pradesh
India shares a big chunk of its national border with China in Arunachal Pradesh. The Sino-Indian border dispute in this region requires that the Armed Forces maintain a significant presence here. However, most parts of Arunachal Pradesh are sparsely populated and lack proper connectivity. The varying weather conditions and overall geography of the region makes it a hard nut to crack. The Indian Armed Forces continue to maintain Mountain Regiments in the region with the Indian Air Force also playing a crucial role in the region. Heavy rainfall is also a troublemaker but the Armed Forces have overcome all the hindrances.
Indo-Chinese Border, Sikkim
Sikkim faces inclement weather conditions with heavy rain, snow, and cold persisting throughout the year. The Armed Forces patrol strategically important areas like the Nathu La Pass with pockets of the region witnessing rapid transitions in a single day. The foot soldiers have to be prepared for everything from bright sunshine in the morning to rain or snow showers in the evening. Indian Air Force plays an important role in transporting arms, ammunitions, and other essential resources in the region.
Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir experiences varying climatic conditions with monsoon and winter making life difficult for the Armed Forces. Moreover, the growing problem of insurgency and terrorism keeps the armed personnel on their toes. In 2014, heavy monsoon rain and flash floods disrupted life in J&K killing nearly 400 people and rendering thousands homeless. The Armed Forces were quick to react and helped rescue more than 200,000 people. The three main divisions of the Armed Forces contributed with some 30,000 troops, 84 fixed-wing transport aircrafts and helicopters, 15 engineer task forces, and naval commandos and rescue specialists.
Like Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand too experiences sub-zero temperatures in winters and widespread during the monsoon season. The Indo-Chinese border in Uttarakhand has remained a hot topic in terms of violations and intrusions by the Chinese forces. The Indian Armed Forces maintain a close watch in the region despite inclement weather conditions. Moreover, during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, the Indian Armed Forces along with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force, and the Border Security Force, airlifted and rescued a total of 18, 424 people and dropped at least 3,36,930 kg of relief material and equipment. Despite dense fog and incessant rainfall, Armed Forces aircrafts maneuvered the dangerous terrains of Uttarakhand searching for survivors as foot soldiers too continued with rescue operations.
The Indian Navy guards the 7,500 km long Indian coastline throughout the year. After the 26/11 attack, the role of the Indian Navy in protecting Indian seas has increased manifold. Braving recurring storms and monsoon systems, the Indian Navy defends India’s large coastline without fail. Sailing in the waters is generally tough and monsoon systems continue to trouble the naval forces in the pre as well as post monsoon period.
Indian Air Space
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the air arm of our defense forces. It secures the Indian air space and provides aerial support during war time. The Indian Air Force maintains its presence in all parts of the country. From the icy cold weather conditions in the hills to the blistering heat of the plains, the IAF operates throughout the length and breadth of the country. The IAF is also responsible for supply, logistics, and maintenance of army base camps. The IAF has played a major role in executing several rescue operations over the years. From floods to tsunamis, earthquakes to storms, the Indian Air Force has overcome weather and other challenges to protect and serve.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force provide a 360 degree cover to these islands keeping a watch on international trade routes which pass these islands. The region witnesses inclement weather conditions with lengthy rainy periods which require that the IAF and the Indian Navy patrol the waters for monitoring purpose. Moreover, open waters make the region even more vulnerable with the growing presence of Chinese naval forces in the South China Sea.
The Indian Armed Forces overhaul not just enemies, but weather extremities as well. They fight two battles, one against the enemies of the state, and one which is fought against adverse weather conditions. As a true nationalist, one must respect the Armed Forces as much as they respect their country. Jai Jawaan!