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Watch: Indian Army trains 'Mountain Warriors' for high altitude operations in Gulmarg

Reuters, INDIA

The Indian Army is preparing its soldiers and officers for high altitude operations in Jammu and Kashmir in an attempt to prepare its troops for smooth operations in extremely harsh climates, the news agency ANI said. The soldiers and officers at the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Gulmarg are being trained. The troops are seen practicing in knee-deep dense snow in a group of 20-30 in a video posted by ANI. With the latest equipment that can provide soldiers with expertise for effective rescue operations on difficult snow terrain, training in new techniques is carried out.

In this exercise, the military included personnel from the paramilitary forces and forces of friendly nations. Lieutenant Colonel Dipanankar Hamalyan, a senior trainer at the academy, said that these troops are trained at high altitude, super high altitude, and glaciated terrain at HAWS. "As of now two courses are imparted in HAWS, one is the winter warfare series under which the basic and the advanced courses are provided. The second course in the mountain warfare series also includes basic and advanced courses. Once a person completes all the courses, they are known as Mountain Warriors," Himalayan said.

The troops will transfer to their respective units after the end of the training and train their fellow soldiers, Lt Col Hamalyan said. At least 540 soldiers a year are trained by the HAWS.

Major Saleem Jafer, a trainer at HAWS, said that the training focuses on military skiing, which helps in post-movement and patrolling in snowbound areas. "Soldiers are trained to ski with weights on their backs, initially with 5 kilograms which subsequently increased up to 20 kg. In advanced training, they will be trained to navigate 80-degree slope which will help them surveil any area no matter how snowy the terrain is," Major Jafer said.

Jafer said troops are equipped to survive extremely harsh climates and avalanches. A one-week survival training is provided to do that, he said, after which soldiers can make their own igloos, snow trenches, and snow caves. They are also being trained near the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh for avalanche rescue at high altitude.

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