Saturday, 13 December 2014

Men in Uniform – Not Tough as They Might Look

The 15th of Dec 2003 is the day when the Royal Bhutan Armed forces were forced to use the ultimate options to flush out the insurgents from their hideouts in the jungles of the southern foothills of Bhutan.

We are joyous of the victory – victory which came with the meticulous planning and unorthodox tactics that had been directed to be used by the supreme commander himself. Being himself on the thick of the battle made us put in more effort, multiplying it in progressive proportions down the chain of commands. Outcome of any battle would never be known before it, thus the fear – fear of losing one’s life, fear of losing the life of men under you, fear of losing a colleague, fear of losing the battle itself. Getting prepared for the worst and hoping for the best did pay off.

We are at the same time sad on the same day for the lives that had been lost on both the sides. After all a life is a life, and be it others or ours, the basic feelings remain the same. History showed us that war had never been good but when all the means fails and when it threatens the sovereignty and the peace of the country, it becomes the responsibility of the men in uniform to sort it out their way. It had to be appreciated here that with how heavy a heart, our supreme commander resorted to this option for we never celebrated the victory.

For those comrades who sacrificed their life for the good of the country would always remain etched in our heart for their ultimate sacrifice. We may not build flamboyant memorial or monuments for you but we would lit butter lamps and remember your sacrifice and pray for your soul on this day every year.
Whether guerrilla warfare tactics of our adversaries – launching attack from the soil of Bhutan is just or not, we do not know. What we do know is that using our soil for such purposes is absolutely not acceptable. On this day we pray for them too, to have better understanding with their government and resolve the issues peacefully and never to getting mislead into hiding out on the sovereign soils of a peace loving nation. Dragging us into unnecessary brawl.
This day is aptly celebrated as an Army day hereafter. For those of us who were on ground on this day can’t help but recollect the fresh feelings of fear, hunger, fatigue, cold, sleep deprivation, loneliness, hallucinations, etc;  and despite that, we kept encouraging ourselves to go on, thinking if not us, who would?

The safe and victorious ending of the operation led us to read our own letters for the families and friends, written and kept sealed in the envelope with our belongings in the base camp, should we failed to return. This made the eyes of the tough soldiers moist and the letters torn into pieces out of sheer happiness and to prevent the heartfelt writings from being exposed. I think Bhutanese never say their heartfelt things openly unless they are no more to say it.

We went hunting for the letters for some of the friends who are alive and not yet returned to the base camp. It is hard to not to cry after going through their letters for they are not stone-hearted and strong as they displayed themselves to be. They are such loving husband and a dad and had so many things left unaccomplished that it was great that they are coming back in one piece, this also enhanced our respects to them even more. The letters were kept back at the same place sealed as before. We know that it will be torn to pieces like we did it to ours.
How I wish I kept mine to show it? But my military ego would not allow that.