High altitude warfare: the Kargil Conflict and the future
Acosta, Marcus P.
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The unique combination of thin air, freezing temperatures, and mountainous terrain that forms the high altitude environment has resisted advances in military technology for centuries. The emergence of precision warfare has altered the nature of warfare on most of the world's surface, yet has not significantly changed the conduct of ground combat at high altitude. The tactics that lead to victory on the high altitude battlefield have remained constant over time. This thesis examines the impact of the high altitude environment on soldiers, their weapons, and military operations, and identifies the lessons of the 1999 Kargil Conflict that are relevant to future high altitude combat. Combat at altitudes approaching 18,000 feet (5,485 m) above sea level between India and Pakistan at Kargil illustrates the timeless nature of high altitude warfare. U.S. combat experiences in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2002 parallel those of the combatants at Kargil despite the overwhelming technological advantage of U.S. forces. Trained and wellequipped light infantry is the only force capable of decisive maneuver in mountainous terrain. Heavy volumes of responsive firepower, in concert with bold maneuver, determine victory. Artillery, rather than air power, remains the preferred source of firepower to support ground maneuver.
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