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Ladakh Scouts

Ladakh has been a front for many battles. This resulted in a unique breed of warriors. The Ladakhis took part in all wars fought in India since Independence. The Nunoos, as the Ladakhis are called in affection, are skilled mountain warriors and are unsurpassed in high altitude and white-out operations. Ladakh Scouts has inherited these qualities most naturally.

Indian Army's Ladakh Scouts is a 4,000-man paramilitary unit of local Buddhists and Tibetan commandos. The famed fighters, nicknamed 'Snow Tigers', is one of the Army's most decorated units, with more than 300 gallantry awards to it's credit including one Ashok Chakra, ten Mahavir Chakras and two Kirti Chakras.

With so many families in the hills of Garhwal and Kumaon who have sons (and daughters) in the military, the conflict in Kashmir has taken a heavy toll. The Garhwal Rifles, as well as other Himalayan regiments (the Gurkha Rifles, Ladakh Scouts, Naga Regiments, and Jammu and Kashmir Infantry) were all entrusted with operations in Kargil in 1999. They joined their Sikh, Rajasthani, Mahar, and Bihari brothers as a multicultural and multifaith force on the frontlines, suffering the brunt of casualities in defense of the state.

Ladakh is part of the Indian sector of divided Kashmir. The region of Ladakh spread over an area of 96,701 sq.Km. and consists of two districts, Leh and Kargil. Kashmir fighting has engulfed Ladakh's Buddhists. The 100,000 followers of Tibetan Buddhism who are caught in a half-century of war between local Muslims and Hindus, and between Pakistan and India, for control over the disputed territory. The word Ladakh is the ancient name of the third region of Jammu and Kashmir and not relates to any ethnic group, caste, creed or religion.

The Ladakh Scouts, which is considered to be the "eyes and ears" of the Indian Army, had been serving the nation ever since its inception, under most inhospitable high altitude and arctic weather conditions with zeal and dedication. Not only this unit served the nation by guarding the high altitude and inhospitable borders but has also helped directly or indirectly to build the shattered economy of Ladakh which had suffered badly due to three wars with Pakistan and one war with China. The Ladakh scouts in its short history of nearly 50 years have earned countless distinctions and gallantry awards as one of the highly decorated unit in the Indian Army, while rendering service to the nation.

The Ladakh Scouts was raised in 1963 in the wake of 1962 debacle against Chinese forces. It was the first unit of the Indian Army to successfully launch the counter strike against Pakistani incursions in Kargil operations in 1999 in Batalik sector.

The Ladakh Scouts has a glorious history which dates back 1948 Skirmishes with Pakistan. Soon after independence, in order to save Ladakh from the Qabalies (intruders) who came from across the border; the "National Guards" were formed out of the local Ladakhi warriors. In 1952 they formed the erstwhile 7th J&K Militia. The 14th J&K Militia was subsequently raised in 1959 at Srinagar. On first June 1963, Ladakh Scouts (I Border Scouts) was raised by the merger of 7th and 14th J&K militia. During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the Ladakh Scouts launched a brilliant attack in Turtok Sector and advanced 22 kms into the enemy territory in just 14 days, thereby liberating 804 sq kms of area. During 1971 operations, 804 sq km of Turtuk was liberated by Ladakh Scouts for which they were honoured with the Battle Honour "Turtuk - 1971".

The period from 1982 to 1985 witnessed the reorganisation. In 1983, Ladakh Scouts was reorganised into a Headquarter and two wings viz "Karakoram Wing" and the "Indus Wing". The regiment has been pioneers in the Siachen Glacier during operation Meghdoot. During operation Vijay the Scouts performed their classical role in cliff assault which was instrumental in achieving success in the operation.

The Ladakhi Scouts, a small force of a few battalions, displayed several gallant acts during Operation Vijay and won quite a few gallantry awards, including a Maha Vir Chakra for Major Sonam Wangchuk. The Chief of Army Staff made a special instant award of "Unit Citation" to Ladakh Scouts for their meritorious and gallant performance during the battles of Point 5000 on night 05/06 July Dog Hill on night 30 June/01 July , and Padma Go on night 09/10 July 1999, in Batalik Sector. The unit performed with distinction during Operation "Vijay" and displayed exemplary valour and grit in the face of the enemy.

In August 1999 the Indian Army planned a multi-prong strategy to combat Islamic terrorism in Kashmir region. It includes increased recruitment of Kashmiri youths, strengthening of the Ladakh Scouts by merging it with the army as a regiment, and setting up of a new corps headquarters at Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The central idea of the strategy be to strengthen Indian army's presence on the Line of Control with additional deployment of 'early warning troops' such as the Ladakh Scouts.

The Ladakh Scouts underwent another reorganisation in June 2000 when it was converted into a full fledged regiment with four infantry battalions. In September 2000 the Indian Government approved a proposal to restructure the Ladakh Scouts, on the lines of infantry regimental centers. This paved the way for raising more battalions. The raising of 'additional battalions' of the Scouts would in the long run mean decrease in deployment from other sectors, thus saving high costs of redeployment. With the up gradation of status for the Ladakh Scouts, Indian Army would be left with only three scout units -- Garhwal and Kumaon Scouts deployed on Indo-Tibet border, and a small detachment of Dogra Scouts. With this restructuring, the regiment of Ladakh Scouts obtained the same status as other regiments of the Indian Army

The fifth battalion was raised on July 31, 2002. The battalions of Ladakh Scouts are deployed in Southren Glacier areas like Karu, Nubra, Leh and Partapur.

During operation Vijay, Ladakh Scouts was conferred upon 55 gallantry awards including 1 Mahavir Chakra, 6 Vir Chakra, 2 Yudh Seva Medals, 15 Sena Medals, 7 Mentions-in-Dispatches, 16 Chief Of Army Staff Commendation Cards and 8 GOC-in-C commendation cards. On September 18, 1999, Ladakh Scouts Regiment was honoured with the Chief Of Army Staff citation and Banner.

With one Ahok Chakra, 11 Mahavir Chakra, 2 Kirti Chakra, 2 Ati Vishishth Seva Medals, 26 Vir Chakra, 6 Saurya Chakra, 3 Yudh Seva Medals, 64 Sena Meals, 13 Vishist Seva Medals, 13 Mentions-in-Dispatches, 67 Chief Of Army Staff commendation cards and 2 Jeevan Raksha Padak to its credit, Ladakh Scouts could be considered one of the highly decorated regiments of the Indian Army.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:37:36 ZULU