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Army takes steps to cut acclimatisation period

As the large scale military deployment along the Line of Actual Control continues with no imminent sign of early withdrawal, the Army has stepped up work on reducing the acclimatisation period for troops being moved to high altitude areas.

At present, the acclimatisation period for troops is 11 days, done in three stages at different altitudes. The Army is exploring options wherein a certain number of troops stationed in lower altitudes are always acclimatised for high altitude operations or the period can be reduced significantly through the use of medications. Acclimatisation is critical because low oxygen levels and inclement climate can have adverse physiological, psychological, biochemical and hormonal effects on the human body.

Both, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as well as the Directorate General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) have been carrying out multi-faceted research in this regard.

A recent study by Army medical specialists suggested that troops can be inducted from the sea level to high-altitude areas in as little as four days if they are administered certain preventive medications, like Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone.

Another option is simulation of high altitude conditions at lower levels where earmarked formations are based. Atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels prevalent in high altitude can be simulated in rooms to which troops can be exposed for the required period.