India Looking to Purchase Winter Gear from US Amid Sino-Indian Standoff at LAC

Foreign Affairs

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New Delhi: India has bought high altitude warfare kits from the US on an urgent basis, sources said, adding that these are signs that the country is preparing for an extended winter deployment after talks to ease tensions along its border with China stalled.

The Indian Army used an agreement which allows the two militaries to take logistical assistance from each other such as buying fuel and spare parts for warships and aircraft, for the transaction, the officials said, asking not to be identified given rules for speaking to the media.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed between both the countries in August 2016 aims to promote interoperability between the two militaries.

The worst standoff between the Asia neighbours in four decades has prompted India and China to move thousands of troops, tanks and missiles to the disputed Himalayan border, while fighter jets are on stand-by. The rush to acquire the gear shows the situation will extend into the winter. The troops face off at 15,000 feet, with temperatures dropping to -30 Celsius.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi pledged in September to reduce tensions along the 3,488-kilometer boundary, the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Military and diplomatic talks on troop disengagement are “a work in progress,” Jaishankar told investors and analysts at the Bloomberg India Economic Summit.

India until now sourced high-altitude kits for its defence forces mainly from Europe or China. S K Saini, the second-highest ranking general in the Indian Army, is on a scheduled visit to the US Army Pacific Command to discuss other emergency purchases and building capabilities.

The Indian Army did not comment on the high altitude warfare kits, but confirmed the visit of one of its top generals to the US. However, a spokesperson at the US Embassy in New Delhi was not immediately available to comment on the development.

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