China is raising new militia units named Mimang Cheton comprising local Tibetan youth for high-altitude warfare near Eastern Ladakh.
- The intelligence intercepts have revealed that along with Eastern Ladakh, China is raising these units near its borders with Sikkim and Bhutan.
- The new units named Mimang Cheton are presently undergoing training, and are to be deployed mostly in upper Himalayan ranges, both in the eastern and western sectors of the India-China border.
- It was found the two batches of the Mimang Cheton have completed training and have been deployed along various locations in the Chumbi valley, including Yadong, which borders Sikkim and Bhutan, Cheema, Rinchengang, PB Thang and Phari.
- A second batch is undergoing training at Phari, which is near Sikkim.
- It is also estimated that the units are also being deployed at Rutog in Tibet, near the Pangong Tso (lake) in eastern Ladakh.
- Mimang Cheton units will be used for high-altitude warfare as well for surveillance and for ensuring supplies to PLA troops.
- They are being trained for a variety of tasks, including using high-tech equipment such as drones on the one hand, as well as mules and horses to reach regions in the Himalayan range that can’t be accessed by modern means.
- The deployment of the new Mimang Cheton units mirrors India’s own elite and decades-old Special Frontier Force(SFF) consisting of persons of Tibetan origin.
- SFF relies on the knowledge of Tibetans.
- The Mimang Cheton also relies on the local knowledge of Tibetans as well as locals’ resistance to High Altitude Sickness, a problem in alpine warfare.
- Upon completion of training, they are being “blessed” by Buddhist monks in Tibet, which is being interpreted as a sign of greater socio-cultural outreach from the PLA to ethnic Tibetans.
Special Frontier Force(SFF) of India
- SFF is an Indian special operations unit created on 14 November 1962.
- It mainly comprised Tibetan refugees living in India.
- Now it has increased in size and scope of operations.
- Its primary goal originally was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Sino-Indian War.
- Throughout its history, SFF has fought in India’s major external wars including the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Kargil War.
- Based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, the force was put under the direct supervision of the IB, and later RAW, India’s external intelligence agency
- It is not part of the Indian Army but functions under their operational control with its own rank structure, charter and training infrastructure.
It falls under the authority of the Directorate General on Security in the Cabinet Secretariat headed by an Inspector General (SFF) who is selected from the Major General rank of the Indian Army and who reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.