China says large-scale joint drills in plateau region demonstrated its capability to seize control of all hostile positions

People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducting live-fire drills at an altitude of over 4,000 metres on the Tibetan Plateau. (Photo courtesy: Defense Blog)

(, Aug26’21) – Amid continuing efforts to reduce the Ladakh border tension and standoff, with the latest disengagement having been carried out over Aug 4 to 5, China said its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Tibet Military Command had recently organized large-scale joint exercises in a snowy plateau region. The troops operated some of the PLA’s latest weapons and equipment and practiced multidimensional tactics with the goal of target elimination, reported the official Aug 26.

The report said the Snowfield Duty-2021 exercise, held at an elevation of about 4,500 meters, featured more than 10 brigades and regiments and set the theme of “joint, multidimensional combat in plateau and mountainous regions”

The drills involved the use of live ammunition, different time periods and terrain as well as all types of combat elements, the report said, citing a China Central Television (CCTV) report Aug 25.

The drill was stated to show the combat capabilities in joint plateau operations of the PLA forces and their determination in safeguarding China’s border and the stability of Tibet.

Giving a description of the exercise, the report said a combined arms brigade mobilized and maneuvered to the mission area under the cover of darkness, and launched the first wave of attacks at midnight, as artillery forces rained down munitions on hostile reconnaissance and early warning facilities using howitzers and multiple rocket launcher systems, before destroying hostile communication centers and helicopter pads.

The report continued that in the early hours in the second day of the drills, a reconnaissance unit took vantage points by getting to the peak of a 6,100-meter mountain. “They set up observation positions and provided guidance for precision strikes on key hostile targets behind defense lines,” the report said.

Anti-aircraft batteries deployed by a defense brigade were stated to have launched missiles to intercept hostile aircraft, clearing the sky of enemy threats, and the main forces – tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and assault vehicles – then pushed forward to capture hostile positions.

An intelligence reconnaissance brigade was stated to have started electromagnetic disruption of hostile communications facilities, giving the troops another advantage.

More descriptions of the exercise followed, involving the use of attack and transport helicopters as well as scouts who landed deep behind enemy defense lines for infiltration missions and logistics support units. 

“After neutralizing all enemies and seizing control of all hostile positions, the troops switched to the defense, marking the end of the drills.”

The report cited a Chinese military expert as saying the exercise was notable for the number of troops involved, the wide variety of tactics and combat elements as well as the deployment of advanced weaponry like the Type 15 light tanks.


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