Patrolling at Siachen, an operational requirement of army: Colonel N Kumar

New Delhi [India], Jan. 28 : Acknowledging that patrolling at Siachen glaciers is an ardent task for the armed forces to carry out, (Retd.) Colonel N Kumar, who is also called the 'Siachen Saviour', said the army has an operational requirement to patrol the glaciers as it would allow Pakistan to occupy the Indian side of Siachen pickets.

"Operational requirement is such that we have to do patrolling. If we don't patrol the area then Pakistan will come and sit inside the pickets as it did in Kargil. Now, once you are going for patrolling which is to be completed in 10 days. If it starts snowing and even if they sit even then avalanche gets triggered. This is the operational risk which we have to take," Col. Kumar told ANI. Col. Kumar's comment comes in the backdrop of 10 soldiers getting killed after avalanches hit an army camp and a patrol in north Kashmir's Bandipora.

It happened barely hours after an Army major was killed, also in an avalanche, in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking about the risk it posses while patrolling, Col. Kumar said, "There are many kinds of avalanche fresh snow avalanche, ice avalanches. Avalanche is very dangerous for patrolling parties because in normal case you can wait for couple of hours, it is always said wait for 48 hours after snow fall.

That is the minimum we do. It also depends on the side of the slope. I am afraid if patrolling party is going, they have to carry on once they are given a task and it is very dangerous for them." In military, Col.

Kumar said, they have red string attached which flies up when an avalanche comes as an indication. Then the avalanche rods are used to probe and find out where the casualty is. "But the safest method is avalanche dogs. What 100 men can do in 100 yards, these dogs can do it in few minutes. Their sniffing power is so strong," he added. Col. Kumar informed that officers and men are trained at High Altitude Warfare School which lectures on avalanche and instructs every battalion as to what kind of precautions are taken in the event of an avalanche.

"But it all depends on operational requirement as you cannot wait. There are problems with Army that way; they cannot wait for three days. I am very sorry to say that Army has lost its 14 brave soldiers. It is tragic news for the whole Army. Last year we had lost Lance Naik Hanumanthappa and nine others in Siachen. We have more than half of the Himalayas and our borders are always on Himalayas and we have to deploy there," he added.

Col. Kumar said despite having such precautionary teams, it is difficult to for the patrol teams to ascertain the possibility of an avalanche "If there are layers of snow with first snow fall, second snow fall and so on and if water from the top layer percolates down, then this will make it all slippery.

Avalanche can come from that also. Normally avalanche study teams dig in a pit to find that how many layers were there and what is the condition of those layers.

But I am afraid patrols can't do that and if they are given a task to go from one place to another they have to do it," he said.

Col. Kumar is known for the mountaineering reconnaissance expedition he undertook in Teram Kangri, Siachen Glacier and Saltoro Range for Indian Army in 1978 at the age of 45.

Col. Kumar Kumar crossed seven mountain ranges-Pir Panjal Range, Himalayas, Zanskar, Ladakh, Saltoro, Karakoram and Agil-to give India the Siachen.

Source: ANI