Bangladesh University of Professionals
Topic Name: Irregular Warfare and the Liberation War of Bangladesh
Course Name: Strategic Studies
Course No: 2314
Submission Date: 30th April, 2018.
Md. Tareq Mahmud
Lecturer, BUP Dept. of IR
Faculty of Security and Strategic Studies.
Fara Ulfat Torsha Id No-17411001
Rajarshi Dewan Id No-17411009
Sabiha Afrin Id No-17411013
Faria Nusrat Id No- 17411021
Nazmun Nahar Sabra Id No- 17411045
Sumaiya Yesmin Id No-17411083
Irregular warfare refers not to the direct attack on the opponent. This paper aim is to discuss the
irregular warfare through the lens of Liberation War of Bangladesh. In this paper, discussion would
be like characteristics of irregular warfare and its objectives, theory of irregular warfare in different
conflicts like Mao Zedong, Che Guevara assumed in different irregular warfare basically their
assumptions on different irregular warfare. Another part of this paper would discuss Mukti Bahini,
Mujib Bahini, Kader Bahini and what the motive behind the Teliapara strategy is. Moreover, this
paper would discuss the different dimension of irregular warfare through the perspective of
Bangladesh liberation war and every dimension would describe the Bangladesh condition that time
and another part of this paper analysis that India is savior mainly Indira Gandhi who is created the
diplomatic pressure in the world and India support Bangladesh in domestic and moral both way.
After that, this paper provides more information like the difference between conventional force
and guerrilla force. Concluding part would discuss the whole paper mainly the summary of this
3. Irregular Warfare
4. Theory of Irregular War in different conflicts
5. Characteristic of Irregular Warfare
6. Objective of Irregular Warfare
7. Liberation War of Bangladesh
7.1: Mukti Bahini (11 Sector, Teliapara Strategy)
7.2: Mujib Bahini
7.3: Kader Bahini
8. Liberation War through the lens of different dimensions
9. India: The Saviour?
10. Difference between Conventional and Guerrilla Force
Irregular warfare means a different procedure of warfare from other warfare. Actually, it is the
struggle of the sub-state actors. The irregular force operations is not like the regular force. Their
operations are like the terrorist and insurgent types. Their goal is to use armed force against their
adversary. Sometimes irregular warfare happened with moral cause. Irregular warfare is an old
form of warfare. There are many conflicts happened because of the irregular warfare like American
civil war, Cuban revolution, Algerian war, American Indian war etc. Irregular warfare influence
the people as internal support is very important for irregular warfare. External help is also play a
role in this warfare. This kind of warfare happened for bringing new social order. To release the
society from the aggressive power. It is mainly occurs against the government. In the irregular
warfare, four things is needed: time, space, support, legitimacy. In the liberation war of
Bangladesh, a small group of people also fought for their independence. They have internal
support. They became successful. They were able to force the adversary to give them their rights.
Basically, it was a guerrilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare. In the
liberation war, there are guerilla force like mukti bahini, mujib bahini, kader bahini whom
contributed most to the liberation war and their contribution is one of the reason for the
independence in the liberation war. India contributed much in the liberation war of Bangladesh.
As the guerilla force got their training in their country, provided them armament and also they
opened their border. They also helped Bangladesh in many ways. But they had also their self-
interest. There are difference between conventional warfare and guerilla warfare. Because guerilla
warfare is an unconventional warfare.
Irregular warfare is an unconventional warfare or it can be said that it is an asymmetric warfare.
In this warfare, there is no regular military force is tangled and they attack the enemy always in
the indirect direction. Their action is quite unpredictable. The aim of the irregular warfare is the
annihilation of the enemy’s power, will, and confidence. Actually, irregular warfare “A violent
struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant
populations. Irregular warfare follows many disproportionate and indirect approach, in order to
erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will. It is inherently a protracted struggle that will test
the resolve of our Nation and our strategic partners”1.
Irregular warfare can take a wide variety of forms and be practiced in different modes, even within
the same conflict. We are in the challenging realm of what the Chinese call “unrestricted warfare”:
in principle, anything goes, anything that might work2. The irregular warfare does not have a
proper plan. They do not attack like the regular force, they can attack anytime at any place.
Actually, their approach is not clear. For doing their operations, internal support is needed. Without
the population support, their goal cannot be achieved. Terrorism and insurgency are the types of
irregular warfare. Guerilla warfare is also a form of irregular warfare. More recently, post-World
War II decolonization, national liberation movements, proxy conflicts, the rise of globalization,
demographic pressures, and ethno-religious strife have all made Irregular warfare a persistent
strategic challenge. Indeed, when one considers the entire history of conflict, Irregular Warfare
has been one of the most common forms of warfare3.So, Irregular warfare is an old method of
warfare. It has been practiced in many warfare before.
There are some propositions of irregular warfare: First, irregular activity has happened for the
unstable condition in the country. Second, the irregular warfare, influence the people
psychologically. This warfare needs different competencies and different reliability for doing their
movement. Third, irregular warfare needs internal and external support but they needs the people
1 Department of Defense, Irregular Warfare: Countering Irregular Threats. Joint Operating Concept,
(Washington, D.C.: 2007), p 6
2. Liang, Q and Xiangsui, W.Unrestricted Warfare: Assumptions on War and Tactics in the Age of
Globalization, trans .Foreign Broadcast Information Service (Beijing: People’ Liberation Army Literature and Arts
Publishing House, February 1999).
3 Joint Publication JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States.
support most for isolating the antagonistic government, making him physically and mentally weak.
Their activies is not the regular military force activity, they attack in an indirect way. Fourth,
making political vehemence is also a part of this activity. Fifth, irregular warfare activities is not
limited to the military force, it is actually outspread further than. Sixth, irregular warfare needs
social help. If they build a strong relationship with the people then it will support them to win a
revolution. Cuban revolution which lasted 3 years. In the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro won the
war as the people had supported the revolution.
In an irregular warfare, there are some kinds of operations is done by the irregular force. The
operations are Terrorism, Unconventional Warfare (UW), Insurgency, Stability Operations (SO),
Civil-military Operations, Psychological Operations, transnational criminal activities etc.
Theory of Irregular war in different conflicts
By the irregular warfare, we understand that irregular warfare is like the “partisan warfare,” “small
war,” “rebellious warfare,” “low-intensity conflict,” “unconventional warfare,” “asymmetrical
warfare,” etc. Strategic indiscretion is proof of relative weakness. To choose to combat in irregular
modes, with guerrilla warfare and terrorism, is always a forced choice. Those strategic methods
are selected because their practitioners are unable to compete in regular combat”4
There are six section in the theory of irregular war the very 1st came by T .E Lawrence on the
“Science of Guerrilla Warfare” he talked about the importance of mass people and their support
he said successful rebellion requires a secure base of operations and a sympathetic population. As
he puts it, “rebellions can be made by 2% active in a striking force, and 98% passively
sympathetic.” The second selection is from Mao Tse Tung’s “Strategy in China’s Revolutionary
War.” As a leader of the Chinese Communist Party during the Chinese Civil War, Mao (1893–
1976) was both a theorist and a practitioner. He mainly talked about “strategic defensive” As he
puts it, “Strategic retreat is aimed solely at switching over to the offensive and is merely the first
stage of the strategic defensive. The decisive link in the entire strategy is whether victory can be
won in the stage of the counter-offensive which follows.” The third selection is from David
4 Gray, Colin S. Modern Strategy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999
Galula’s Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. Galula (1919–1967), he argued on
asymmetric nature of irregular war.
The fourth selection, by Andrew Mack, he argues, “success for the insurgents arose not from a
military victory on the ground . . . but rather from the progressive attrition of their opponents’
political capability to wage war. In such asymmetric conflicts, insurgents may gain political victory
from a situation of military stalemate or even defeat. “The fifth selection, by David J. Kilcullen he
talked about “disaggregation. The final piece, by Peter R. Neumann and M.L.R. Smith, both of
King’s College London, explores terrorism as a military strategy. So this are the six selection of
irregular war5. In the theory of it there are some important factors that matters a lot those are time,
space, support and legitimacy. Time is important because without sufficient time no irregular force
can be transferred into regular force. Because time can create organization so time is the most
important element. The duration of irregular warfare is quite unpredictable. As the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued their irregular warfare 35 years. On the other hand,
Cuban revolution ended within 3 years. Then space is important because the more space we can
spread the more possibility will increase of victory. As space gives the indication when and where
to fight. Either we have to sacrifice time or space. Then support is the third one after managing
time and space support in needed because the support of the mass people is very important they
have to support the ideology first then after getting the mass support the irregular force need the
The moral support is must for that international recognition is needed then lastly legitimacy in
needed. This factor matters a lot in irregular warfare. If we look to the history well see that these
factors matter a lot in the victory of irregular war. There is no written document on how to fight
irregular war but the leaders who fought irregular war they said some many important things about
it. In the history of international relation there are many types of war that came to the scenario
many scholars differentiate them in many ways. So, if we start to count down the irregular war
that fought in past mainly the Arab revolt, Chinese war and the Cuban revolution is the most
5. Gates, Robert M. “A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age.” Foreign Affairs
(January/February 2009): 28-40
signified one. By studding those we can easily understand how the theory of irregular war came
The Arab Revolt against the Turks (1916–1918)
The Arab Revolt was started in June, 1916, with an attack by the half-armed and inexpert
tribesmen upon the Turkish garrisons in Medina and about Mecca.Many British and French
officers were sent to the area to assist the revolt. Among these officers was Captain T E Lawrence,
who later became famous as Lawrence of Arabia6.
Lawrence effectively described how an irregular force, equipped with secure bases, a friendly
population and a dynamic cause can use guerrilla warfare to paralyze a stronger enemy that, for
whatever reason, does not take the initiative against the guerrillas. However, he failed to prove his
main thesis that victory could be reached without fighting a major battle. “The Turks were stupid;
the Germans behind them dogmatically”7.He mainly focused on “Strategy and tactics”, “Humanity
in battle”, “The crowd in action”, “Range over force”, “The desert and the sea”.8
Chinese Civil War
Mao Tse Tung became involved with communism at an early age, and in 1921 he was a founding
member of the Chinese Communist Party. While he was fighting the war Mao noted that “China
is a country half colonial and half feudal; it is a country that is politically, militarily, and
economically backward … It is a vast country in which the terrain is complicated and the facilities
for communication are poor”9.
Mao talked about the three stage of irregular war
6. Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom. New York: Anchor Books, 1991.
7. Mao Tse-tung. On Guerrilla Warfare. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. 1961. Reprint, Champaign, IL:
University of Illinois Press, 2000.
8 .Bernstein, Alvin H. “The strategy of a warrior-state: Rome and the wars against Carthage, 264-201
B.C.” In The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States, and War, edited by Williamson Murray, MacGregor Knox, and
Alvin Bernstein, 56-84. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
9. Mao Tse-tung, On Guerrilla Warfare, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (1961; repr., Champaign, IL: University of Illinois
Press, 2000), 68
1. Organization, consolidation and preservation of base areas, usually in difficult and isolated
2. Advancing of the development issues which is caused by terror and attacks on remote enemy
units to attain arms, supplies and political maintenance.
3. Decision, or destruction of the enemy in battle.
Mao’s theory was developed specifically to guide the Communist party of China. This perspective
enclosed many sole issues, the absence of which complicated the submission of protracted war
elsewhere in the world10.For instance, Mao’s formula depends on an agrarian society with a large
and disaffected peasant population that is amenable to radicalization. “But peasants are
conservative, more predisposed to suffer than risk their hard-earned all. It seems that peasants can
be equipped for revolutionary war only when their lives have depreciated so rapidly and radically
that they feel desperate”11. This was true in 1930s China, but it has proven rare elsewhere in the
world. Peasantry can be disposed to radicalization which can exist only when the incumbent
government is monumentally corrupt and incompetent and takes no measures to alleviate their
plight; another condition of China that is rarely true in other countries. Furthermore, the territory
must be large enough to allow guerrillas to trade space for the time necessary to build capacity and
political will;12 it is very difficult for guerrillas to survive in small and confining terrain, and few
countries are as vast as China. Of the Mao-inspired insurgencies that occurred in Asia, Africa and
South America, only in Vietnam did victory occur in the third phase of protracted war with the
destruction of the enemy’s forces and his will to continue fighting. This occurred twice: in 1954
when the Vietminh defeated the French in the First Indochina War, and in 1975 when Saigon fell
to the Spring Offensive13.
10. The psychological capacity of the Chinese people to resist defeat.” See Taber, 42-3.
11 .See Tanham, 31-2, 94-7; Asprey, 809-18; summers, 135-9.
12. Ernesto Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare (Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2006)
13. A “foco” is a small nucleus of revolutionary guerrilla fighters
The Cuban Revolution
The main theoretical product of the Cuban Revolution was the book Guerrilla Warfare, written by
Che Guevara and first published in 196114.The small portion of book talked about the theory of
irregular warfare. Guevara lays out a three-phase process that mirrors the Maoist version of
protracted war. “At the outset, the guerrilla fighter’s essential task is to keep himself from being
wiped out … When this is achieved and it has been able to take up inaccessible positions that are
very difficult for the enemy to reach, or it has assembled forces that deter the enemy from
attacking, the guerrilla band should proceed to the gradual weakening of the enemy”15.
Guevara was even more obstinate than Mao on the importance of the principle of annihilation in
guerrilla warfare, “the ultimate aim of which,” he writes, “is the same as in any war: to win, to
annihilate the enemy. “Guevara’s original contribution to the theory of irregular warfare,
the foco concept, was flawed. Guevara himself would die for the implementation of focoism in
Bolivia, where the peasants had no interest in overthrowing a system that had made sincere efforts
to improve their lot. By contrast, they actively assisted the counterinsurgency that concluded with
Guevara’s capture and death in October 1967.
Characteristics of Irregular warfare
Irregular warfare is primarily about politics and organization. Violence plays a role in irregular
warfare, as in all forms of war, for political purposes. The immediate purpose of violence is to
demonstrate the political ineptitude of the ruling government and as a tool to intimidate and coerce
populations. The ultimate goal of irregular warfare is political power for the purpose of political,
social, economic, and religious change.
Irregular warfare has no fixed character, its irregularity is dictated by particular verifiable and
1. Irregular warfare is warfare waged in a style, or styles, that square measure nonstandard for the
regular forces in dispute. The enemy is unlikely to be within the service of a state.16
2. Irregular warfare is waged so as to secure the acquiescence, if not the support, of the native
individuals. Military defeat of the irregular enemy is fascinating, however not essential. it’s his
political defeat, that’s crucial.
3. The decisive combat occurs in and about the minds of civilians, not on the battlefield. Protection
of the people must be job one.
4. Irregular warfare, as contrasted with common banditry, crime, or recreational brigand and
hooliganism, needs an ideology.
5. Of course, all warfare is about politics. It is only the political dimension that gives meaning to
the bloody activity. But, in regular warfare, a minimum for the troopers, politics generally takes a
backseat till the military issue is settled. Not so in irregular warfare. there will probably be no
recognizable military decision. Military behavior must be conducted for its political effects
because those effects, in the minds of the public, comprise the true field of decision.17
6. The irregular is not attempting to inflict an impossible military defeat upon you. Steve Metz
points to the meaning of strategic effectiveness in irregular warfare when he writes that
“insurgency, after all, is armed theater.”18
It is undeniable that in some important ways insurgency is a more satisfactory concept than
irregular warfare. It refers to a purpose, typically to take power by means of a tolerably, certainly
variably, popular campaign of violence to destabilize and ultimately defeat the established
government. Irregular warfare is “a major and pervasive form of warfare”.
Objective Irregular warfare
The principal objective in Irregular warfare operations should be to outthink, outperform, and
adapt quicker than the enemy locally, regionally, and globally so as to deny him the power to line
16.Charles E. Call well, Irregular warfare one nature, many characters.
17 Colin S. Gray, Irregular Warfare One Nature, Many Characters, p 43-45
18 Metz, Learning from Iraq, 44.
conditions favorable to his goals. Local authorities among the Irregular warfare operational
territory ought to persistently evaluate work and support activities to make sense of the suggestions
and implications of their activities though following the general aim.
Irregular warfare favors indirect and uneven approaches, though it may employ the total vary of
military and different capacities, thus on erode and adversary’s power, influence, and will.19
“Irregular Activity is defined as- Behavior that makes an attempt to result or change through the
illegal use, or threat, of violence, conducted by ideologically or criminally motivated non-regular
forces, groups or people, as a challenge to authority.” 20
The term “irregular warfare” reinforces a false and dangerous divide in how war is thought about
and planned for. The strategic aim of war, the use of force to compel others to our will, is the same.
Tactical concepts, including the use of cover and concealment, local concentrations of force, and
the avoidance of decisive engagements, are the same. It is only the peculiar tactical systems which
vary, and which may be asymmetric. 21
Irregular Warfare is a violent struggle among state and non-state actors. The struggle can be for
authenticity and impact over the significant population, to drive administration change or political
convenience, to remove foreign invaders. Irregular Warfare often occurs within a state below the
level of traditional war and above the level of routine, peaceful competition among or within states.
It often is more protracted in nature than standard operations though Irregular Warfare may be a
supporting effort in ancient war. Irregular Warfare can range from localized instability to a regional
struggle, often with regional and strategic implications.22
19 GEN Raymond T. Odierno, IRREGULAR WARFARE: A CLEAR PICTURE OF A FUZZY
20 GBR Joint Doctrine, USA Irregular Warfare
21 W. Alexander Vacca and Mark Davavidson, Regularity of Irregular Warfare
22 GEN Raymond T. Odierno, IRREGULAR WARFARE: A CLEAR PICTURE OF A FUZZY
Liberation War of Bangladesh and Guerrilla Force:
The liberation of Bangladesh was achieved after a nine-month long war, in which all patriotic
people of the country contributed and sacrificed their life for mother land. The war started against
genocide in 25 march by the Pakistan army, but soon assumed the character of an organized war
for the liberation of Bangladesh. It was essentially a people’s war, which was started by the
freedom fighters known as Mukti Bahini (MB) in Bangladesh. Mukti Bahini was mainly Guerrilla
All freedom fighters were generally known as Mukti Bahini. There were two division among them:
those who came from military, paramilitary and police forces were called Niyomito Bahini (regular
forces), while the freedom fighters from a non-military background were called Gonobahini
(people’s forces). The Gonobahini as Freedom Fighters. They are mainly started Guerrilla
Modern Guerrilla war has most emphasized on Space. Space is help to decide where and when to
fight. Most time Guerrilla Force used difficult terrain like jungle, mountains, deserts etc. for
tactical advantage against enemy. According to cue Guevara Bangladesh is’ Unfavorable terrain
‘for irregular operation because Bangladesh had a little Jungle, no deserts, a little Hill tracts except
Chittagong hill tracts and no suitable place for retreat. Another difficulty was Bangladesh had a
population density of over 1300 per square mile. If guerrilla started action in civil area, it would
result in much civilian causality. Think that the rainy season will create disadvantage for the
Pakistani army but Pakistani army become more mobile than the guerrillas during the rainy season.
Pakistan was supported by some Bengali Muslims for religious appeal, so it was also a big
advantage for Pakistani military. Another think that the theory suggests that Guerrilla force should
be 25 to 35 so that they are mature enough. But Bangladeshi’s guerrilla forces were below 25 years
old. Despite the entire disadvantage of guerrillas they started to defend against Pakistani military
army and also immobilized Pakistani army. That’s why Bangladeshi guerrilla movement called’
Romantic guerrillas ‘The main reason of the success is full support of public.25
According to Robert Taber ‘The guerrilla’s fighter’s war is political and social26 the ideological
War had been won in 25 march. From the Pakistani army was caught in vicious circle. They killed
23. JAMAL, AHMED ABDULLAH. “MUKTI BAHINI AND THE LIBERATION WAR OF
BANGLADESH : A REVIEW OF CONFLICTING VIEWS.” Asian affairs, October,December 2008: Vol 30,No 4
24.Shafiullah, Maj. Gen (Retd.). Bangladesher Swadhinota Juddho: Dalilpatra (henceforth Dalilpatra)
(1984): Vol. 9, p.253.
25 .”The Bangladesh revolution and Its Aftermath.” In Guerrilla War and The Indian Role, 107-118. n.d.
26 baylis, Jonh, James Wirtz, Cohen Eliot, and Colin S .Gray. Strategy in the Contemporary world.
OXFORD University Press, n.d,213-217.n.d.
a huge number of innocent men, women and children in 25 march 1971. That military operation
was named Operation Search Light. It was a targeted killing. For this genocide a common
psychological phenomenon was developed.
That time Dacca was most dangerous place for Guerilla operation. Moral and secure support from
general people .only make possible that success operation in Dacca. In 1971 some guerrillas
launched a surprise attacked on west Pakistan army patrol group, killed people and destroyed
many industry. Two guerrilla blasted The American centers. People are get confident over the
guerrilla bahini. The main aim to Guerrilla bahini was to disrupt the communication system of
Pakistan. In august 24 they started operation in Chittagong. They destroyed Chittagong port and
sunk more than 20 ships of Pakistan. More than 100000 guerrillas and supporting sectors were
hindrance Pakistani movement. Mao Zedong’s theory told about The Strategic Offensive the
Strategic defensive and Stalemate. Bangladesh was divided in to 11 sectors during War .Guerrilla
force (mukti Bahini) were Sector 6.The Guerrilla force had liberated many parts of the country
before Indian army entered. Many arguments had started that Guerilla force kept main contribution
to liberty of Bangladesh. Another argument is that even Indian army had come into the war
directly; Guerrilla Bahini would liberated itself within Six months.
May 15 Major Safiullah, Major Khaled Musharraf and Colonel Usamani met at telipara Shylet and
prepared a paper called Telepara Strategy. Telipara strategy is a strategy of liberation War of
Bangladesh where colonel Usmani was first thought about Guerilla force. Regular forces could
attack the enemy from the front, while Guerrillas attacked from the behind. . In this strategy
Bangladesh was divided into 11 sectors, six no sectors was for Guerilla’s.
The Mukti Bahini is a guerrilla movement formed by general people during Bangladesh liberation
War. According to Telipara strategy 1.First Guerilla force would be trained and first operation of
the guerrilla was destroyed communication line that make standstill the Pakistani army and engage
in hut and run. Another plan was that they divided into sector troops and placed in different areas
to give cover Guerrilla operation.
According to Clausewitz ‘Support is the form of Public opinion was one of the Centers of Gravity
in a popular uprising ‘ Without support no Guerrilla war will not be succeeded .Mao also said that
people like water and army like Fish. In Bangladesh Liberation war Mukti Bahini was become
popular and gained many support from general people. So new Guerrilla force was formed named
It was armed force organization that preserves the interest of Sheikh Mujib and his supporters
.Mujib Bahini was formed by four close leaders of Mujib .They were Tofael Ahmed Sheikh Fazlul
Haq Mani, Sarajul Alam, and Abdur Razzak .These Units trained 45 days by the Indian Army in
Dehra Dun (in uttar Pradesh) and in Haphlong (in Assam).These men were also trained Mujibism,
Mujibism is an idea of Shekh Mujibur Rahman 1.Natinalism 2.Secularism 3.Socialism 4.
Kader Bahini was formed by Abdul Kader Siddigue Kader (known as the “Bongobir”) at taingail
during liberation war of Bangladesh. They were also participators of Guerrilla operation. The kader
Bahini was became an organized force of some 17000 young men of the age group of 14-24.
This group carried out many successful guerrilla operations in Tangail. In August 11 kader
bahini group were attacked a Pakistani boat and carried a large number of arms. kader also
established contact with exile government and Indian army. . Kader control over with his troops
to Tangail along the Mymensingh-Tangail Highway. It was important operation for Bangladesh
27 “The Bangladesh revolution and Its Aftermath.” In Guerrilla War and The Indian Role, 107-118. n.d.
28 Nabi, Dr Nuran. “The Tangail landing A signal for vicctory.” March 16, 2015.
Liberation War through the lens of different dimensions:
The purpose of Irregular warfare is not the same as the conventional warfare. That’s why it is also
called unconventional warfare. It is not done by military operation or other conventional system
rather it is mainly based on some principles. There are certain dimensions that work on irregular
warfare. Political Dimension, Psychological Dimension, Cultural or Ideological Dimension,
Socio-economic dimension, Military Dimension and International Dimension.
Bangladesh emerged as a country in the scenario of Cold War period. The Liberation war of
Bangladesh is relevant to those dimensions in some ways.
1. The Political dimension basically talks about the popularity to get support from the natives.
The main objective of political dimension is to gain support from the mass people of a
certain area. The public support is important because once it is gained the insurgents can
enter into the areas and can mix with the mass people. In the liberation war of Bangladesh,
the political system in east Pakistan was a complete mess. Political instability was
everywhere in east Pakistan which made the natives aware of their rights and fight for their
own land. Also the genocides occurred during the liberation war made the people of the
east Pakistan aware; mass killing, inhuman tortures and many more were the scenarios
during the war and these make the people aware about their rights and jump into the war
to get freedom from the west Pakistani forces. Taking all these ideas the east Pakistani
forces spread the idea of freedom and encouraged everyone to fight against the enemy by
gaining mass support.
2. Psychological dimension also talks about the public support. This dimension is somewhat
related to the political dimension. According to psychological dimension, insurgents
convince the people morally or psychologically not in the ways of military system. Because
when they will be able to plant their idea in the minds of mass people, that will bring a legit
public support. In the liberation war of Bangladesh, the freedom fighters entered into the
villages, and every corner of the country. They mixed themselves with mass people, took
shelter in the houses of the local people and encouraged them in many ways. They gained
public support by planting the ideologies and ideas in the minds of the general people. They
influenced them with the ideas and also recruited new fighters from every villages by
planting the ideas.
3. When the insurgents push into the minds of people that what the acting government doing
is wrong and corrupted and what they are doing is right and logical, then a value is created
in the minds of people against the government. Cultural and ideological dimension talks
about these. In the Liberation war of Bangladesh, the guerilla force manipulated the local
people by awaking patriotism and negativity against the Pakistani government in the minds
of the mass people which made others to hate the system and get them involved into the
war. According to this dimension the insurgents influence the mass people by cultural
aspects. Although both east and west Pakistanis were same according to religion,
Bangladeshi people were first Bengali then Muslim which was another strong point for the
insurgents to make the mass people aware about the situations and influence them to hate
the current government and fight against them.
4. Socio-economic dimension explains that the revolutionary army will create a new of
economic structure for the society and show that their motive is the will of the people and
value of the movement. On the historical 7th March speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman, he mentioned about closing all the Secretariat, Supreme Court, High
Court, Judge’s Courts, and government and semi-government offices but only the banks
may open for two hours daily for business transactions. He also mentioned that no money
shall be transmitted from East to West Pakistan. He also mentioned that the Bengali people
must stay calm during these times.
5. Military Dimension talks about some political aspirations by which sometimes the
activities of the insurgents turn into military actions. The Governmental conventional army
will not be able to fight back as the unconventional army is trained in way that they attack
in a small group and attacks are done always suddenly. In the liberation war of Bangladesh,
the guerrilla forces were trained in India and coming back they fought against the enemy
by forming small groups consisting 10-12 members or sometimes less.
6. International Dimension is basically about the international support from the international
community. It includes international recognition, moral and material supports which are
important in guerrilla wars. Particularly these supports are very important and significant
when these come from neighboring countries like the liberation war of Bangladesh India
helped Bangladesh training the forces, with arms, morally, mentally also economically.
This dimension was very important in the liberation war of Bangladesh. Not only for
Bangladesh, it is important for every revolutionary or guerrilla warfare.
India: The Savior?
Both east and west Pakistan remained united because of their sameness in religion, Islam where
west Pakistan had 97% Muslims and east Pakistanis had 85% Muslims. However, there were
several significant reasons that caused the east Pakistani people to fight for their independence
against the west Pakistanis.
The contribution of India in the liberation war of Bangladesh is unforgettable. India helped
Bangladesh with aids, military trainings, arms and economically. But how come India became a
savior for this region? To answer that at first it is important to know a short description why the
war broke out between the two parts of Pakistan.
The general elections were held in Pakistan in 1970 and Awami League won a great victory by
winning 160 out of 162 seats in East Pakistan.29 As a result, Awami League then emerged as the
single majority party in the east Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the leader of Awami
The contribution of India in the liberation war was much helpful which helped the east Pakistani
people to win against the west Pakistanis. India helped with aids and in many other ways. Specially
29 Independence of Bangladesh… 2004: 461
in forming the Mukti Bahini. The war between the Pakistan Army and the Bengali freedom
fighters, the Mukti Bahini, began in 1971. The main leader of the Mukti Bahini was General
Muhammad Osmani. The Mukti Bahini were trained like guerillas to fight the war. India gave
shelter to the refugees of this region with foods and medical treatments and trained the Mukti
Bahini. India also helped Bangladesh with ammunition and its own soldiers during the war. They
attacked the Pakistani army with the Bangladeshi freedom fighters. Lt. General (Retd.) JFR Jacob,
Chief of Staff of India’s Eastern Army during the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971, gives a
brief but precise assessment of the strength and weaknesses of the Mukti Bahini, and of the role
that it played in his book on the war.30 Jacob explains that a large number of guerrillas had to be
trained within the short period of three to four weeks, which had an adverse effect on the
performance of Mukti Bahini. Besides, there was a shortage of proper leaders among the freedom
fighters as many young people who could be utilized as guerrilla leaders were absorbed by the
regular forces. Jacob believes that “had this manpower and leadership been utilized to make up
hard-core guerrilla forces they would have achieved much better results”.31 Nevertheless, Jacob
duly recognises the achievements of Mukti Bahini. This is how he summarises their effectiveness:
“Despite the limitations of training and lack of junior leadership, they (e.g.Mukti Bahini – author)
contributed substantially to the defeat of Pakistani forces in East Bengal. They completely
demoralized the Pakistani Army, lowering their morale and creating such a hostile environment
that their ability to operate was restricted and they were virtually confined to their fortified
locations. The overall achievements of the Mukti Bahini and the East Bengal Regiments were
enormous… Their contribution was a crucial element in the operations prior and during full scale
During the war at the time of training period of the Mukti Bahini, the Pakistani Army encouraged
Razakars, the Bengalis who did not want Bangladesh to become an independent country, to
suppress the rebellion.
30 JFR Jacob (Retd. Lt. Gen.), Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation, The University Press Limited, Dhaka, 1997 31 ibid 32 ibid
The Pakistani Army faced problems as the monsoon came. This helped Mukti Bahini because they
could counter the moves of the Pakistanis and as the land was very well known to the Mukti Bahini
they could easily move from one place to another at any situation.
India assumed an active role. Indira Gandhi ordered air and ground attacks. India had superior
equipment and forces, mounted a three-pronged movement on Dhaka from the Indian province
West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura. The Indian soldiers, Air Force, and Navy helped to defeat the
Pakistani army, while the Bangladeshi Navy helped India. During the war on the ground three
groups of Mukti Bahini and Indian forces fought the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis tried to fight back,
but failed to resist them as Mukti Bahini was guerrilla forces who attacked suddenly without any
On December 16th, 1971, Dhaka fell to the Mitro Bahini, the elite forces of the Mukti Bahini and
the Indian army. After that the “Instrument of Surrender” was signed by the defeated Pakistani
General Niazi and by the Indian commander General Aurora at 16:31 Indian Standard Time. This
is how Bangladesh became liberated and independent. December 16th is recognized as the Victory
Day in Bangladesh, while March 26 is recognized as the Independence Day.
Difference Between Conventional and Guerrilla Force:
Guerrilla Force: Guerrilla means small war and it is originated in the early 19th century. Guerrilla
Warfare is mainly to adopt the strategy in the weaker side to achieve the capability of taking the
tactical offensive at chosen times in different places. The four strategies that guerrilla force adopted
is given below:
I. Harassment of the enemy
II. Avoidance of any decisive battles
III. Sabotage and destruction of enemy communications and supply lines
IV. Tactical use of surprise and confusion.
The conventional force is strengthened by the arsenal of weapons and its material wealth but it is
weakened by the social and political factors. On the other hand, the guerrilla force has been
strengthened by the greater mobility and good relations with the local population. Moreover,
guerrilla force is free from territorial restrictions but its weakness is lack of military strength.
Guerrilla force is understood through the partisan struggle. Partisan means strong, biased supporter
of a particular party or cause or a person. It describes the nature of guerrilla warfare but it does not
mean warfare. Partisan behavior is considered as a moral or political cause. It is thought that many
of the guerrilla forces are partisan for a cause but guerrilla forces do not share any partisan cause.
Insurrection is also part of the guerrilla force. It is usually raised armed against the existing
government and it is more likely to rebellion. Revolution is related to guerrilla force and it means
a rising plan against the existing government or ruling class from overthrow the power. Guerrilla
forces generally take mobile warfare and mobile warfare is based on the principles of secrecy,
surprise and confusion, stealth and speed, terrain exploitation and strategy of assemble, strike and
disperse. Moreover, harassment and disruptions of communications are also part of mobile
warfare. Mobile warfare aim is to achieve the speedy victory. The essence of the guerrilla force
is given below:
a) The reasons why guerrilla war occurs: It is the political goal which is responsible for
small wars and it is the preconceived doctrine that provokes guerrilla war. The political
goal is often identified as a quest for independence and desire for overthrowing the
b) The Fundamentals: The guerrillas focused on the fundamental of the guerrilla war and
they are time, space. The most important element is time and it could be used as a
metaphor to conclude the war. The guerrilla force focused on that the cost of money and
human lives should be low because protracted war is detrimental. Their main focus is to
frustrate, irritate and bleed the opposition. Space is another important element. Guerrilla
force needs time to utilize the space that they require. Space means free movement of
guerrilla force, it is considered as a choice of terrain and it could be used as an advantage.
(c) Strategy: The four strategies that guerrilla leader follow are given below:
i. The constant harassment of the enemy: When the moral is tapped and nerve shook up
then the opponent would try to use their force at different times and at different places.
ii. To avoid major or decisive battles: The guerrilla force is generally applied the hit and
run strategy. Neither they have men nor do they have a weapon which can prevail war.
This principle is followed by Mao Zedong, who explained that the guerrilla force always
stands to lose more than he can gain.
iii. To sabotage enemy installations: It is focused on the destruction of enemy’s
communication and it could be considered as the harassment of the enemy because of this
strategy guerrilla force get the arms and provisions.
iv. To aspire to continually surprise the enemy: Guerrilla force is focused on the enemy’s
psychological harassment. They try to confuse the enemy that where their foe and what
would be next step that opponent cannot find.
(d) Tactics: Tactics means adopting plan or policy and how to implement the strategy on
the opponent. The guerrilla leader should know the enemy’s strength so that he could
concentrate on enemy’s weakness. Guerrilla fighters generally mobilized through the
effective use of hit and run strategy. Generally, guerrilla fighters divided into small groups
and for operations they united to encounter the enemy. Maintaining a good-relations with
local people, develop a loyalty towards them is a part of a guerrilla program. The primary
element of guerrilla is environment and it is integrated as their part of tactics. Guerrilla
warfare is held on rural areas and it has been established for substantial foundation in the
(e) The Combatants: The guerrilla army is small in comparison to their opponent.
Generally, it is based on psychology perspective. The guerrilla fighter possess some special
attributes. The guerrilla fighter should be prepared for fighting and have inner (psychology)
strength. Carl Von Clausewitz summed up in his work Kleiner Krieg that the small war
involved not only greater courage and temerity but also called for the utmost caution. For
this reason, guerrilla group is small and logically, lives are valuable.
(f) The ratios and size of guerrilla units: Guerrilla war is not like conventional war which
is based on the number of parity. Guerrilla force is based on the self-sufficient or mobility
and ability of force. Terrain and other local conditions considered as the deciding factor.33
33 AJ Mc Leod|| Guerrilla Warfare as a global concern, Chapter-03, pp-48-69||University of Pretoria
Conventional Force: Conventional force means armed forces whom are capable of
adopting operations without nuclear weapons. Generally, it is including military combats
and support of forces. 34 There is given below the differences between the conventional
force and guerrilla force:
(i) Guerrilla forces are small in size and conventional forces are amass in size.
(ii) Guerrilla forces do not hold any position but conventional forces hold position.
(iii) Guerrilla forces get supply from local people and they get local support on the other
hand conventional forces get the supply of communication which is originated from
(iv) Guerrilla forces get the mobility from the terrain on the other hand conventional
forces get their mobility from mechanization.
(v) Guerrilla forces relocate their base areas to deter detection on the other hand
conventional forces do not relocate their base areas. 35
(vi) Guerrilla forces generally use surprise and confusion as a tactics on the other hand
conventional forces could not surprise or confused the opponent.
(vii) Guerrilla forces main target is to overthrow the existing government on the other
hand conventional forces main target is to destroy the enemy or opponent.
(viii) Guerrilla forces created the psychological pressure on the opponent but
conventional forces do physical torture on the opponent.
34 Conventional forces law and legal definition|| US LEGAL.COM||
35 Beef Curtains Johnson|| What are the main differences between conventional warfare and guerrilla
Irregular warfare is mainly attack the enemy indirectly and the main aim of the warfare is
questioning on the legitimacy of the existing government. To gain victory is not the prime concern
of the irregular warfare. In irregular warfare psychological phenomena play an important role
because irregular forces are playing with the psychology of the opponent or the existing
government and try to make understand opponent that he is psychologically weak. As did the
Mukti bahini in Bangladesh Liberation War, they destroyed the communication lines that
questioning the legitimacy of the government. Generally, Mukti bahini is basically guerrilla force
and this force formed a Teliapara Strategy. According to Teliapara Strategy, Bangladesh divided
into 11 sectors and in six no. sector guerrilla was executed plan and took actions. Other bahini also
in Liberation War like Mujib bahini is basically formed on the basis of the idea of Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman and it is based on four factors such as Nationalism, Secularism, Socialism and democracy
and Kader bahini generally executed plan and took actions on Tangail-Mymensingh highway. In
irregular warfare, the main objective is that denial of the existing government as did the Mukti
bahini, Mujib bahini, and Kader bahini in Bangladesh Liberation War. Irregular warfare is mainly
a struggle which stretches that brought changes in the political, economic, social phenomena and
as see in the Bangladesh Liberation War where a changed had been seen in the political arena. In
irregular warfare six dimensions but in Bangladesh Liberation War international dimension play
the vital role. Because without moral and domestic support of India it was impossible for
Bangladesh to achieve the victory upon the Pakistan. Moreover, Indira Gandhi created a diplomatic
pressure upon the world which helped to get attention of the Superpower like USSR. Though,
China and US was against the Liberation of Bangladesh but Indira Gandhi made it alone because
Indira Gandhi did not remove soldiers from Bangladesh. So, international dimension play the key
role in Bangladesh Liberation War but others dimensions have played role in Bangladesh
Liberation War. We can say that without the support of irregular force and India’s help it is quite
impossible for Bangladesh to achieve the independence.
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