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Paratroopers Land In Tibet

August 23, 2010
August 20, 2010

China recently held its first combat parachute
drop in Tibet, with a battalion landing in  an
open area of the Tibet plateau. The average
altitude on this vast plateau is 4000
meters/14,000 feet. This means parachutists have
to jump from a higher altitude, because of the
thinner air and the longer time it takes for the
parachute to open. The reduced air pressure
brings on altitude sickness for the troops,
especially after something as strenuous as a
parachute jump, and the frantic activity
following the landing. The Chinese Army wants to
find out how well prepared it is to deal with these problems.

These parachute troops went through altitude
acclimatization training beforehand, as the
Chinese already know what happens when you send
military units straight to the high plateau. This
happened two years ago, when there was an
uprising in Tibet. Many of the troops sent in
soon fell ill from altitude sickness. The
acclimatization training detects those troops who
would get ill quickly, and the worst of these are kept closer to sea level.

The Chinese also pointed out that much of China's
frontier areas are covered with mountains and
hills, averaging 3,000 meters (9,300 feet) in
height. Training in Tibet gets the paratroopers
ready to operate in all these areas.
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