Significance of Armed Forces Day | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 22, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 22, 2009

Significance of Armed Forces Day

NOVEMBER 21, 1971, a glorious day of our national history: On this day combined forces of Bangladesh army, navy and air force launched a concerted effort to put down the occupation army of Pakistan on the wake of unprecedented genocide conducted by them. On this very day armed forces of Bangladesh took a ceremonious birth. Although November 21, 1971 is marked to be the raising day of the Bangladesh armed forces, the Bengali members of army, navy and air force conducted operations in their respective domains against the occupation forces from March 26, 1971. These organs of the armed forces had been carrying out massive destruction of the occupation forces during the liberation war without any pragmatic national directives and military planning. As a matter of fact in the tense situation of our national life in those days when occupation forces were committing inhuman atrocities all over East Pakistan, the armed forces of Bangladesh came into being to confront the occupation forces.
A deliberate attack by the armed forces of Bangladesh was launched on the Pakistani forces on November 21, 1971. The war gained ferocity from the outset. Large areas along the border were being liberated every day. Within a few days lines of communication were disrupted in the face of undaunted attack by the combined forces. The defenders were routed. All their munitions of war, their morale, their organizational setup, fight worthiness, everything collapsed. And as a result of such helpless situation the occupation forces surrendered. The armed forces of Bangladesh played a vital role in liberating the country from occupation forces.
The following brigade forces were formed by the Bengali members of army:
-'Z' Force: This force consisted of 1, 3 and 8 East Bengal Regiments. Major (Later Lieutenant General) Ziaur Rahman was the commander of this force. It was raised at the foot hill of Tura hill, opposite to Mymenshingh.
-'K' Force: Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier) Khaled Mosharrof was the commander of this force. This force raised at Agartala with 4, 9 and 10 East Bengla Regiments.
-'S' Force: 'S' force was raised at Hezamara, opposite to Sylhet with 2 and 11 East Bengal Regiments. Lieutenant Colonel (Later Major General) Shafiullah was the commander of this force.

Besides the brigade force, the whole geographical area of Bangladesh was divided and placed under 11 sectors for carrying out effective operations on the occupation forces.
It was essential to prevent supply of arms/ammunitions and rations for the occupation forces from West Pakistan in sea routes. Hence, a naval commando consisting of Bengali naval representatives was formed. Due to the massive operations by this naval commando, use of Chittagong and Mongla port including other river ports became hazardous for the occupation forces. The naval commando destroyed many Pakistani ships. Thus, the supply of the occupation forces from West Pakistan came to an end; as a matter of fact, the then East Pakistan became totally segregated from West Pakistan.
It is essential to have air support for the success of any battle. The Bangladesh Air Force started its function from an abandoned airfield at Dimapur inside deep forest of Nagaland. 24 airmen were imparted training here. They took part with army and navy in various operations.
The peace-loving people of the then East Pakistan were forced into an armed struggle by Pakistani forces on the night of March 25, 1971. Even an hour before the attack was launched, the Bengali soldiers never knew that they were to encounter Pakistani forces and fight a total war. They never conceived that the Pakistan army would be so brutal in killing the Bengalis. When the political situation was moving fast towards an armed revolution and then a total war, Bengali soldiers stationed in East Pakistan with Pakistan army units could not gain or convey information to decide their course of action. The victories, which had been achieved during the liberation war in different sectors, were the outcome of November 21, 1971. Members of the armed forces in those days had left behind giant footprints for the future generations. They have left lessons, which we have to follow. Their dreams would be fulfilled on the day when the Bengali nation as a whole become satisfied with what they want to see for themselves as an independent nation. On November 21, every year, oath is taken fresh by the members of the Bangladesh armed forces that they would stand beside the nation as 1971 in case of any national disaster.

Mohd. Hanif is a retired Major.

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