To honour the contribution of animals to the corps, the Indian army has named a new officer's mess lounge in Delhi cantonment after its longest-serving mule, Pedongi.
The lounge at the Central Army Services Corps (ASC) officers' mess on Polo Road in Delhi has been named the 'Pedongi Lounge' to honour a mule who carried loads for nearly 30 years. In comparison, an average mule usually serves the army for 18-20 years. The Hindustan Times reports that Pedongi, named after the town of Pedong in Sikkim, joined the army in 1962 and died in 1998. The name was an exception, since unlike horses, mules of the Indian army are never named. Instead, they are referred to by their hoof numbers.
According to a Bangalore Mirror report, Pedongi was also known by its hoof number, 15328. It was rewarded for its long service to the corps in 1992 and christened Pedongi. It even entered the Guinness Book of World Records as "longest serving military mule" in 1997. The mule died a natural death at the age of 38 years.
The army's animal transport units generally take care of 6,000 to 8,000 mules which are used to support remote and high-altitude outposts. The different kind of mules used in the army include riding mules, load-carrying mules (General Service mules) and mules to carry heavy artillery guns and shells (Mountain Arty mules). Mules also played an important role in the Kargil war in 1999.
The army is planning to replace mules with all-terrain vehicles to transport weapons, ammunition and stores in mountainous regions and rugged terrain more swiftly. However, others argue that animal transport units cannot be completely disbanded due to the harsh terrain in some of the regions where the army is deployed.