Infantry: Battery Powered Uniforms For Chilly Chinese


January 18, 2011: Chinese media recently ran stories about battery powered Winter uniforms for the army. The purpose of this kind of story was twofold. First, to show off the neat new gadgets China is producing, and then to show how modern and high-tech the Chinese armed forces are. Unspoken is the admission that China has traditionally treated the lower ranking soldiers very poorly, especially when it comes to decent food and special equipment. During the Winter of 1950-51, American troops in Korea frequently came across Chinese troops who had frozen to death in their positions, being equipped with inadequate Winter clothing. No more, as the Chinese TV and newspaper stories about the battery powered heated uniforms indicate. Such military clothing has been around for over half a century, using external power. The battery powered stuff showed up more recently as lithium battery technology advanced. This type of battery can be made in just about any shape. Many brands of battery powered clothing are made in China, and exported for the outdoor market.

China has been building up its troops levels in Tibet, especially its high-altitude areas that border India. This is difficult, and expensive. To survive for extended periods at high altitudes you need sturdy barracks and roads built through very difficult terrain. Battery powered clothing is great for this kind of work, as temperatures often go way below zero (-30 degrees centigrade/-22 Fahrenheit). You can wear unheated clothing in this weather, but it is bulky and limited movement. Troops on patrol or guard duty in this weather are quite happy to have a battery powered shirt and trousers, in case the extreme cold gets unbearable.

When China and India fought a brief 1962 war on their high-altitude border, it was the Chinese who were better equipped and supplied for this kind of war, and the Chinese won as a result. The Indian Army has not yet adopted battery powered clothing for its troops, so the Chinese score extra points for getting there first. Both nations are still preparing for a rematch in the mountains.



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