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Pak troops planning airdrop in Ladakh?

NEW DELHI, JUNE 10: The Pakistan army special forces, the Special Service Group (SSG), appears to be preparing to launch another audaciou...

Written by Manvendra Singh |
June 11, 1999

NEW DELHI, JUNE 10: The Pakistan army special forces, the Special Service Group (SSG), appears to be preparing to launch another audacious operation through an airborne assault somewhere in the Ladakh region. And the operation could well be conducted before Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz arrives for talks on Saturday.

In the last few days, the SSG is understood to have conducted some practice jumps around Skardu in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). And it is believed that the SSG operation “could well be to set the agenda for Sartaj Aziz before he arrives here”, a senior Government official told The Indian Express on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.

Various Government agencies have reported the jumps carried out by the SSG at a drop zone (DZ) near Skardu. The jumps, said the officials, were carried out from C-130 transport aircraft flown from the Chaklala air base. The SSG is headquartered at Chaklala, where the British Indian Army’s Para Training School was located. The Pakistanarmy continues to maintain its para-jump training at Chaklala.

While the Army has been alerted to the possibility of an airborne assault by the SSG, a careful analysis is under way as to the likely objectives of such an operation. “Being a jump in an high-altitude area, it seems pretty much certain that their DZ would be in the Ladakh region. And we have informed the Army units in the area to be prepared in case such an assault was launched,” said a senior official.

All those serving in the SSG are trained paratroopers. And the SSG also has more than a company’s strength (a 100 plus) who are specialised skydivers. “This gives them more flexibility as to their likely DZ,” said an Army skydiver. “Being a mountainous region they would have to deploy their parachutes at higher altitudes using high-altitude high-opening techniques. The aircraft from which they would be launched need not then have to enter our airspace,” continued the officer. A standard static-line jump would, however, require that theaircraft enter Indian airspace “thereby limiting its options for a DZ”, he added.

The likely targets, said the officials, would have to be high-value, in terms of either military impact or returns through publicity. “They may be planning an operation which has an high-return impact. Something which effects our military operations, or something that simply draws a lot of attention. We are well aware of both possibilities and have instituted effective counter-measures for such an eventuality,” said the senior official.

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