OPERATION EAGLE – WHOLE GUN

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Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi, 4 November 1971
Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi, 4 November 1971 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This map contains my estimates of the units in...
Image via WikipediaSPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – ESTABLISHMENT NUMBER. 22 – OPERATION EAGLE – LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH 1971:
OPERATION EAGLE 1971 – ABOUT GUNS, VICTORY, AND GALLANTRY AWARDS – THE MILITARY ACTION IN CHITTAGONG HILL TRACTS

SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – ESTABLISHMENT NUMBER. 22 – OPERATION EAGLE – LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH 1971 – GALLANTRY AWARD: 

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India had initiated liberation of Bangladesh during 1971 with military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts. This battle plan is known as Operation Eagle. 

‘ POORVI STAR ‘ AWARDED IN INDO-PAK WAR OF 1971 :  

On the 3 rd of December 1971, The Pakistani Air Force(PAF) struck a number of Indian airfields. By midnight, India was officially at war with Pakistan. Two weeks later, the war was over. The Indian Army had overrun erstwhile East Pakistan(Bangladesh) and had taken 93,000 POW s. It was one of the swiftest military campaign in recent history.    

BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR – The Indo-Pak War of 1971 and the Birth of Bangladesh are very significant achievements of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. As I was then serving in an Establishment under the Cabinet Secretariat, I had direct and personal understanding of her Foreign Policy Initiatives. She had personally approved our military Operation in Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the conduct of this War, we had faced a very critical moment and it needed her personal intervention and a decision that she alone could make. I rendered my services and had overcome the challenge posed by that critical situation. The importance of this situation could be understood as it needed an intervention from the Prime Minister. I am now asking the Government of India to recognize my GALLANT response in enemy’s territory without any concern for my personal safety.

 

This War is memorable to me for several reasons. 1. I had actually proceeded to an active combat zone without my personal weapon/gun. 2. I was actually recommended for a ‘Gallantry Award’. I was recommended for ” VIR CHAKRA ” and the award citation did not go beyond the Office of The Director of Medical Services(ARMY), Medical Branch of Adjutant General’s Office, Army Headquarters and did not reach the Military Secretary’s Branch(Army) Ministry of Defence in time and the award was not granted on technical grounds. But 12 years later, my Formation Commander still remembered the role I had played and gave his appreciation in a formal letter. 3. I have shown gallantry without firing a bullet and I had received appreciation from the enemy soldiers that we had captured. I shall narrate my war-time experience in short stories now and then as the information is still ‘ classified ‘.  

Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands(December 1985 to December 1989) – Lieutenant General(Retd) TS Oberoi, PVSM, VrC., former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Headquarters Southern Command, Pune, former Inspector General, Special Frontier Force, former Commandant, Headquarters Establishment No. 22. He is the tall person in this photo wearing dark brown turban. I knew him since 1971. Under his able leadership, the Liberation of Bangladesh had commenced in the year 1971 during the Indo-Pak War.Apart from his military wisdom, he took a good care of all men under his Command. While I was proceeding to Chittagong Hill Tracts, he had individually greeted all the members of my team and had delayed the departure of aircraft to ensure that a hot breakfast was served to all the men boarding the aircraft. He paid personal attention to all the aspects of the military mission to ensure the well-being of men apart from achieving success in accomplishing the military task. The sense of warmth he radiated is easily felt when we meet him in person. His grandson provided me the link to this photo. Photo Credit – Trishna-Ajay-Picasa Web Album.
The remarks made by Lt Col B K Narayan on May 13, 1972 in my Annual Confidential Report for 1971-72 are as follows:”A very conscientious and Tough MO who worked hard during the Bangladesh OPs. He did very well and showed Maturity which was beyond the call of duty. I have recommended this Officer for a gallantry award for which he deserves eminently. He is physically Tough and cheerful. Is a fresh entrant with less than 2 years of Service and yet he displayed capability and confidence.
I was trained in the use of a 9 mm SMG or Sten Gun. I had chosen to march into enemy territory without my personal weapon to defend myself. I did not throw away my weapon and I did not surrender my weapon to the enemy which are crimes under law. War is a team effort. My contribution to this team effort is not based upon firing bullets from my Sten Gun. I had totally discarded any concerns about my personal safety and worked for the success of the team. I have shown Courage by not carrying this Sten Gun and in following my team like a shadow and confronting the enemy as a TEAM.
I was trained in the use of a 9 mm SMG or Sten Gun. I had chosen to march into enemy territory without my personal weapon to defend myself. I did not throw away my weapon and I did not surrender my weapon to the enemy which are crimes under law. War is a team effort. My contribution to this team effort is not based upon firing bullets from my Sten Gun. I had totally discarded any concerns about my personal safety and worked for the success of the team. I have shown Courage by not carrying this Sten Gun and in following my team like a shadow and confronting the enemy as a TEAM.

 

As an Officer of the Indian Army, I received training in the use of a 9 mm Sub Machine Gun popularly known as ‘ Sten Gun ‘ or ‘ SMG’ (” Carbine, Machine, Sten “) and had always passed in my weapon training tests. It is a devastating close-range weapon. It is a compact, light weight automatic weapon firing pistol ammunition and it would fire without any lubrication. The personal weapon that was issued to me was held in the Unit and is generally taken out for range practice and weapon training. Being a Medical Officer, I also spend a lot of time away from my Hospital and provide medical cover during troop training and exercises. In 1971, as the war clouds started gathering, I started spending more time away from the Hospital where I am actually posted.As the tensions started mounting, my formation was asked to get ready for deploying troops and to get them ready for the war, they had to be moved and re positioned at locations closer to the border.When the airlift of troops began, I was far away from the Hospital and had to board the aircraft with combat ready troops without my personal weapon. Brigadier TS Oberoi, our Commander was present at the airfield during this predawn flight and he was personally supervising very minute details and was making sure that the men were treated well. He gave orders that the troops could not be asked to board the plane until they were served a hot breakfast. He was personally shaking hands and gave encouragement to each one of us. Being a doctor, they were all used to seeing me without a personal weapon and my Brigadier also did not raise any objection when I got into the plane without my gun. After having reached the border location, I was still hoping that I could manage to get a gun for my personal protection. Officially, still there was no war and my expectation was that finding a gun would not be much of a problem. When I had checked and asked for a ‘SMG’ , the gun for which I had prior weapon training, I was told that they had none to issue. I was asked to carry an assault rifle and many Infantry Officers told me that they love the rifle better than the light and compact SMG. I accepted the gun in spite of its heavy weight and bulky ammunition. I was not yet attached to the Battalion with which I would actually participate during the operation. Soon, the basic battle plans were revealed and the most important detail was that we would operate on a ‘ man pack ‘ basis. That means there would be no vehicles and we literally carry every thing on our backs and move as a column and we were cautioned that we would not be resupplied for the first seven days of the war. We should be self-sufficient in all aspects for one whole week which includes fighting the enemy. I had arrived at this border village with my bedding, books, clothes etc., and was not knowing anything about the type of operation that was in store for me. I decided to leave every thing at the regimental Quarter Master Stores and proceed on foot with the men with a back pack. I had my team of medical assistants and I had to assign them to different companies. Then I had the problem of my medical supplies for the battle. I had to carry every band-aid, dressing, pills, medicines that I would need. Nothing else would be supplied in the early and most difficult phase of the war. My medical assistants could only carry the load for their company role. I had to support the Battalion Headquarters and all other support personnel. I took a deep look at my medical supplies. Then I made my decision. I decided that I would rather go for the war with my medical mission and totally forget about defending myself during the war. I made a decision to return my gun , my bulky ammunition and I would be able to serve my men better if I have my medical supplies and I truly need more of it to protect others and there was no room to worry about my personal safety. In the first conference with my Battalion Commander, Col BK Narayan, that was the very first time I had met him in my life, I told him that nothing else really matters to me other than providing and caring for the men during combat and I would be happy to lift an extra load of medical supplies rather than carrying a gun to protect myself. Col.Narayan could immediately understand my decision and in the first battle briefing he had announced that the Adjutant would defend the doctor for the entire duration of the operation. Captain Kottayam Chacko Kurien, an Officer of Jewish faith had accepted this additional responsibility with great seriousness and he had solemnly pledged that I would be the last person to get killed in the Unit during the war in which I had marched everywhere along with the men without my personal weapon.  

I had never met Brigadier.TS Oberoi after he had bid me farewell at the airfield. He got a promotion to the rank of Major General and moved to New Delhi and I spent my time on the Himalayan frontier. In 1983, he was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Headquarters Southern Command, PUNE and since I was serving under his Command, I sent him a formal letter mentioning that I was seeking release from Army Service.He immediately wrote back to me and I am pleased to quote a few lines from the letter that I had received from him:  

1.” Major R. Rudranarasimham of Army Medical Corps………..was closely associated with my organisation during 1971 Indo-Pak War, thus, I would highlight certain commendable traits of this officer during this period of national crisis which certainly deserve befitting recognition on his relinquishing the Army.  

2. During the Indo-Pak War the officer was a medical officer with regular troops. He rose to the call of duty and displayed tremendous courage and total dedication to his duty. He carried out the given task with perfect organizational acumen and professional knowledge. He weathered tremendous physical and mental stress with utmost zeal and remained cool and composed during the operations. For this display of gallant qualities in the face of enemy the officer was recommended for a gallantry award but was not among the fortunate ones to receive it………….”  

The letter signed by Lieutenant General T S Oberoi, PVSM, VrC dated 14 Feb 1983 is still in my possession and it lets me celebrate the Victory in the 1971 War.  

    

Remarks of Lieutenant General T S Oberoi, PVSM, VrC, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief,Headquarters Southern Command Pune 411001.He had remarked about my participation in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.
General Sujan Singh Uban, Special Frontier Force
General Sujan Singh Uban, Special Frontier Force and The Liberation of Bangladesh.

 

THE PHANTOMS OF CHITTAGONG : THE FIFTH ARMY IN BANGLADESH :  

Major General ( Retd ) Sujan Singh Uban, AVSM, the former Inspector General of Special Frontier Force had authored a book titled ‘The Phantoms of Chittagong : The Fifth Army in Bangladesh’. He had narrated the military exploits of his Force while operating in the difficult terrain of Chittagong Hill Tracts during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. He did not discuss the role of Indian Army Medical Corps and the Medical Plan for his Fifth Army in Bangladesh.  

The Flag of Indian Army Medical Corps. The AMC personnel are Combatants. The professional Service rendered inside enemy territory and showing courage in the face of enemy action deserves appropriate recognition. Gallantry Awards are not merely intended for firing bullets.
The Flag of Indian Army Medical Corps. The AMC personnel are Combatants. The professional Service rendered inside enemy territory and showing courage in the face of enemy action deserves appropriate recognition. Gallantry Awards are not merely intended for firing bullets.

THE SPIRITS OF SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE:

U.S. President Richard Nixon, and the Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger had opposed this military action to initiate the Liberation of Bangladesh during 1971. However, this political opposition had not undermined the purpose of the multinational military alliance/pact. Soon after the Liberation War, we were happy to extend our cooperation to the Nixon administration and had planted electronic listening devices to gather intelligence inside the occupied territory of Tibet.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Spirits-of-Special-Frontier-Force/362056613878227

Related Blog Posts : 

Please view the related blog post titled ‘Indira Gandhi – A Flame that Got Extinguished’ 

http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/indira-gandhi-a-flame-that-got-extinguished/  

1. The Art of Battlefield Medicine   

2. Award of Gallantry Awards- Indo-Pak War of 1971. 

http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/award-of-gallantry-awards-indo-pak-war-of-1971/  

3. The Medical Plan for Fifth Army in Bangladesh-The Experience of Madhurya in Chittagong Hill Tracts   

4. The Fifth Army – The Untold Story from Chittagong Hill Tracts – August 18, 2009  

5. The Phantoms of Chittagong – A Story from Chittagong Hill Tracts – August 17, 2009  

6. The Spirit of a Jew – Revisiting the Birth of Bangladesh – February 10, 2009  

7. India and Iran – What is the Connection ? – January 28, 2008  

8.Sangram Medal 1971 – A Story that I Shared with the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services – November 22, 2007  

9. Liberation War of Bangladesh – Fallen Heroes on Both Sides – October 28, 2007  

Dr. R. R. Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S., 

Ex – Service Number. MS-8466, Rank. LIEUTENANT/CAPTAIN  AMC/SSC  

Medical Officer South Column Operation Eagle 1971

Headquarters Establishment No. 22  C/O  56  APO 

 

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6 thoughts on “OPERATION EAGLE – WHOLE GUN

    RKRAO said:
    October 24, 2007 at 5:07 PM

    Dear Rudra,
    My sincere and hearty congratulations for the gallantry and devotion to your work,beyond the call of duty, exibited by you in the war;i am eager to read of your other exploits in this war.
    krishna

    bhavanajagat responded:
    September 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    Please also read all the related Blog Posts.

    gotya said:
    April 8, 2011 at 5:02 AM

    You had done excellent secondary work in honour of soldiers who fought actual battle in BD. But you never fought and participated in a real battle.Only real fighters are awarded VIR CHAKRA or Mahavirchakra award.Neither you killed any single Pakistani soldier on any front. How you expect any award from Govt ? You are not seen with a weapon in any photogragh either.

      Bhavanajagat responded:
      April 9, 2011 at 12:15 AM

      Thanks for sharing your view. Apart from Infantry, warfare is supported by several people who have designated roles during the conduct of military operations. Apart from Army Medical Corps, several ranks partcipate in the War providing vital support to the Infantry soldier. Approximately there could be eight people working to support the role of Infantry soldier. Army Medical Corps participates in the War as Combatants. The 1971 War had followed the International Laws and Conventions of Warfare. The Geneva Conventions of War of 1949 categorically specify the duties and the responsibilities of Medical Personnel during War. I am not supposed to kill or harm any enemy soldier or civilian. The Geneva Convention states that I must treat all wounded personnel including enemy soldiers and civilians. I am glad that I had served my Country and had also served the captured Pakistan soldiers and provided timely treatment and made arrangements for medical evacuation of enemy casualties by our helicopters. I had also served a Chakma civilian who lived in a tree house and provided him with medicines and comfort. I spoke about the experience of Madhurya, Joy and Bliss while serving the wounded men. My Unit Commander Lieutenant Colonel BK Narayan, and my Field Commander Brigadier T S Oberoi and the Force Commander Major General Sujan Singh Uban had recommended the award of Gallantry Award and they did it for good reasons and they understand courage and bravery during Action while facing the Enemy. The Courage is not about Killing People. The Courage is about performing Military tasks without fear, disregarding personal safety, and going beyond the Call of Duty.

    gotya said:
    June 21, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    Note that only indian soldier to get PVC on eastern front in 1971 war was Albert Ekka, may be in Hilli / Bogra battle. HD Manjrekar from Mumbai of Rajput regiment also fought a very tough battle in Hilli area with FRONTIER FORCE.He was found dead just few meters from enemy post with grenade in right hand. He sustained at least 32 bullet injuries on his body. He was also not awarded any gallantry award for his heroic act as a combatant. Nobody is complaining about him. Even though he deserved at least MVC.

      Bhavanajagat responded:
      June 21, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      Thanks for sharing your view. Captain(Dr.) M. L. N. Swamy, AMC of Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool was awarded VIR CHAKRA during the 1971 War in the Western Sector. You have yet to understand the concept called ‘courage’ and courageous action while facing the enemy. I had participated in Operation Eagle in the Eastern Sector and had received orders for this Operation from Prime Minister and her Cabinet Secretariat. In the Western Sector, most of the action took place along the border and Indian Army did not make a deep penetration of the enemy territory. In the Eastern Sector, we had advanced on foot and attacked the enemy deep inside his territory. You have to get a basic insight about infantry operations.

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