It is not surprising that China resorts to extreme levels of an unsophisticated and shrill propaganda war in times of conflict using its state-owned media. At present, The Global Times seems to be leading the task of performing that task. In a recent tweet the editor of this Chinese propaganda site said that China’s army will fatigue India by prolonging the stand-off into the winter, and Indian soldiers will die by freezing in the bitter cold. Another video post from the Chinese media shows some drones with their army to argue that how they are able to serve hot food with the help of drones while the Indian army suffers from supply issues in winter.
In fact, many social media users quickly rebutted and even laughed at these claims, citing the fact that India has already shown its capability to withstand winter by managing the Siachen glacier where the biting and fatal winter is just as bad if not worse. Sample this.
Doubtful. Compared to Siachen, Pangong is downright tropical. The Indian military is traditionally better acclimated and Pangong is closer to Indian population and supply centers than Chinese. I don't think winter is going to strengthen China's hand. Can't blame him for trying. https://t.co/0KFVJQDmx0
— Jeff M. Smith (@Cold_Peace_) September 10, 2020
Mountain Warfare- World Recognises India’s Capability
This Chinese propaganda of having the edge in winter time and Indian soldiers being unable to withstand winter is too hollow a claim.
A few month’s ago, none other than a Chinese Think Tank had acknowledged that India has the largest, most experienced mountain army in the world. The analysis noted that, “At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India. With more than 2,00,000 troops in 12 divisions, the Indian mountain force is the largest mountain fighting force in the world.”
The analysis also spoke about India’s capability displayed in Siachen as a noteworthy example. “The Indian army has set up hundreds of outposts in the Siachen Glacier area with an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, with 6,000 to 7,000 fighters stationed. The highest post has reached 6,749 metres.”
Beyond this, studies from global research centres like ‘Centre for New American Security’ also highlighted India’s long experience of managing the mountain heights. It observed,
“whereas India maintains a large number of military and paramilitary troops along the various plateaus, mountain passes, and valleys that provide the most obvious potential points of trans-Himalayan ingress, China—in accordance with its doctrine on frontier defense—stations the bulk of its conventional forces in its interior, to be surged forward in the event of conflict.”
Of course, India’s retired military officers also reflected this strength of India. Sample this.
Mountain Strike Corps
Citing the national security concern, Indian Parliament has declined to divulge information about the Mountain Strike Corps. But it is evident that a great capacity building initiative has been undertaken in the recent years.
Newspapers have reported largely about India raising the Integrated Battle Groups that consist of Mountain Strike Corps as well, who are especially skilled in conducting battles in mountains and deserts. In October 2019, the army conducted Operation Him Vijay, a war-exercise, involving MSC. It also has such units as the Ladakh Scouts, the Tibetan dominated Vikas Battalion and paramilitary forces like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police among other forces to deploy for the specific purposes of mountain warfare and border security.
Thus, China can produce any number of scripted video clips to claim its capacity in mountain warfare, but on count of experience, the experience of battle-hardened Indian soldiers can’t be easily overlooked.