Siachen Glacier is located in the Karakoram ranges of Himalayas at the altitude of about 5,573m (approx. 19000 ft) above the sea level. Temperature falls as low as -50 degrees. It is the highest combat zone, and the climatic conditions are too harsh, making the terrain inhabitable. Tough conditions altogether combine and cause several illnesses like memory loss, frostbites, and lung infections. In short, the body starts deteriorating.
Life of soldiers
Since 1984 till now, this glacier has claimed over 700 deaths of soldiers. Weather causes most of the deaths rather than the bullets of the enemy. At such a height, daily activities like cooking food, eating, bathing become difficult. In the case of sickness or any other emergency evacuation, help depends on the army chopper. Their flight again depends on the weather. If the weather is not clear, then soldiers have to watch their colleagues die helplessly.
Snowstorms may last as long as three days. In the condition of snowstorms and avalanche, soldiers have to keep using the shovel as snow could be more than a foot. Helicopters also need to fly at such an altitude to provide food packets and other supply. Whenever a soldier gets posted at Siachen, he is first accommodated at Leh for one year to become accustomed to the heights and weather.
Why can’t we withdraw forces?
Accounting to so many deaths, many times discussion arises to withdraw the army forces from Siachen. India dominates Pakistan in terms of height, which is considered helpful to us. Also, trusting the neighbour could be a tremendous mistake. So there is no contemplation of the withdrawal of the army from Siachen.
Every soldier at Siachen is a hero, a real hero. We need to salute them at every opportunity we get. They are serving the nation and protecting us despite being in harsh and inhabitable climatic conditions, where the humans like us cannot survive.