China now rehearses capture of Tibet passes
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A year after conducting its first live military exercise in Tibet, China has for the first time rehearsed capture of mountain passes at heights beyond 5,000 metres with the help of armoured vehicles and airborne troops.
The Chinese Defence Ministry makes this claim in a short official report that describes the exercise as the "first joint actual-troop drill of the PLA air and ground troops under information-based conditions in frigid area with a high altitude". The joint drill involved the Chinese Air Force, ground troops, armoured columns and a range of support entities.
Unusually for China, the report carried a detailed description of the exercise. "At the very beginning... the new type warplanes of the PLA Air Force conducted accurate strikes at the targets.... Shortly after seizing the commanding point,
the long-range guns launched full-scale shooting at the command post and the artillery position of the enemy."
This was followed by the armoured vehicle group and infantry combat vehicles branching out into columns and launching a "sudden and violent attack on the mountain passes occupied by the enemy. The special operation detachment outflanked the enemy and raided the enemy's command post". Army aviation troops and anti-aircraft missiles, the report stated, provided cover.
Subsequently, the PLA report claims, after reaching a mountain pass at a height over 5,000 metres, the armoured vehicle group and the infantry combat vehicles "broke through the interdiction barrage of the enemy in succession".
In a simultaneous effort, another mountain pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres but located "hundreds of kilometres away" was taken over.
"Conducting military operations on plateau with an elevation of more than 4,500 meters is an extreme challenge," the report said.