The People’s Liberation Army has carried out a live-fire, brigade-level military exercise on the Tibet plateau which borders India. The exercise was held last week while troops from India and China remain locked in a standoff in Doklam at the trijunction with Bhutan.
This military exercise on the Tibet plateau comes days after a light battle tank was tested near the Indian border late June. Another live-fire exercise was carried out earlier this month in an unidentified area at an altitude of 5,100 metres. The PLA exercise coincides with the Malabar Exercise involving India, US and Japan.
State-run media reported Monday that the live-fire exercise was conducted by a brigade from the PLA’s Tibet Military Command, one of two mountain brigades in the region. The drill was conducted to “improve troop combat capability on such locations”.
According to CCTV, the “brigade has long been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and is responsible for frontline combat missions.” Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) is the Tibetan name for the Brahmaputra that flows through India and Bangladesh.
Quoting a release from the PLA, China Daily reported, “The exercise was conducted by a ground combat brigade of the PLA Tibet Regional Command this month and involved scenarios such as rapid deployment, multi-unit joint strike and anti-aircraft defence. Before the exercise, the brigade mobilised all of its members and equipment and took six hours to transport them from the barracks to the drill zone at an altitude of 5,000 metres on the plateau.”
According to China Daily, soldiers were ordered to occupy fronts of enemies as soon as they arrived and were countered with “strong firepower”. “They summoned artillery forces to suppress the ‘enemies’ and sent assault teams to take out bunkers. Air defence units used twin-barrel anti-aircraft guns to bring down aerial targets,” the report said.
An 86-second video broadcast by CGTN, China’s state-owned news broadcaster, showed long PLA convoys traversing the mountainous terrain, multiple rocket launchers in action, anti-tank missiles, bunker busters and soldiers using rocket propelled grenades, howitzers and mortars.
The exercise reportedly lasted 11 hours and “effectively tested the brigade’s joint strike capability on plateaus”, according to China Daily.
The PLA’s Tibetan Regional Command reportedly conducted another live-fire drill in an unidentified location earlier this month at an altitude of 5,100 meters,
Communist Party of China-run Global Times reported that Tibet’s mobile communication agency conducted a drill on July 10 in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, “…where members of the agency practised setting up a temporary mobile network to secure communications in an emergency”.