Bangladesh Armed Forces

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Bangladesh Armed Forces
বাংলাদেশ সশস্ত্র বাহিনী
Bangladesh Shoshostro Bahinī
Crest of Bangladesh Armed Forces
Flag of Bangladesh Armed Forces
Mottoচির উন্নত মম শির (de facto)
"Ever High is My Head"
Founded21 November 1971; 51 years ago (1971-11-21)
Current form12 January 1972; 51 years ago (1972-01-12)
Service branches Bangladesh Army
 Bangladesh Navy
 Bangladesh Air Force
HeadquartersArmed Forces Division Headquarters, Dhaka Cantonment
Commander-in-Chief President Mohammed Shahabuddin
Minister of Defence Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Principal Staff Officer Lieutenant General Waqar Uz Zaman
Military age18 years
Active personnel163,050[2]
Reserve personnel0
Deployed personnel1,500
Budget36000 crore (US$3.4 billion)[a][3]
Percent of GDP1.4% (2023)
Domestic suppliers
Foreign suppliers Australia
 Czech Republic
 South Korea
 United Kingdom
 United States
Related articles
HistoryBangladesh War of Liberation
1972-1975 Bangladesh insurgency
Chittagong Hill Tracts Insurgency
Gulf War
Operation Clean Heart
RanksMilitary ranks of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Army during Victory Day Parade 2011

The Bangladesh Armed Forces (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ সশস্ত্র বাহিনী, romanizedBangladesh Sashastra Bahinī) are the combined military forces of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. It consists of the three uniformed military services: the Bangladesh Army, the Bangladesh Navy and the Bangladesh Air Force. The Armed Forces are under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Defence of the Government of Bangladesh, and is directly administered by the Armed Forces Division of the Prime Minister's Office.[4] The President of Bangladesh serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. It has the third-largest defence budget in South Asia and according to the Global Firepower index it is the third most powerful military force in South Asia.[5] Border Guard Bangladesh and Bangladesh Coast Guard are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs[6] during peacetime, but during wartime they fall under the command of Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy respectively.

Military policy is formulated and executed by the Armed Forces Division (AFD) whereas the Ministry of Defence (MoD) does not exercise any operational or policy authority over the Armed Forces. Since independence, the AFD and MoD has been led by the Prime Minister. To coordinate military policy with foreign and intelligence policy, both the president and the prime minister are advised by a six-member advisory board which consists of the three military services' Chiefs of Staff, the Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division, and military secretaries to the president and the prime minister. The directors general of the NSI, the DGFI and the BGB also serve in an advisory capacity, when invited.[7][8]

Armed Forces Day is observed on 21 November and commemorates the founding of the three services of the Armed Forces who subsequently initiated a joint operation against the occupying Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War.[9][10] Official functions are held across the country including at Bangabhaban, the Armed Forces Division Headquarters at Dhaka Cantonment, all military cantonments and at every military installation throughout the country.[11]


Eastern wing of Pakistan[edit]

With the partitioning of India on August 15, 1947, the territory constituting modern Bangladesh was partitioned from the province of Bengal as East Bengal, joining the newly created state of Pakistan. Ethnic and sectional discrimination prevailed in all sectors of the state. Like other government sectors, Bengalis were under-represented in the Pakistan military too. Officers of Bengali origin in the different wings of the armed forces made up just 5% of overall force by 1965.[12] West Pakistanis believed that Bengalis were not "martially inclined" unlike Pashtuns and Punjabis; the "Martial Races" notion was dismissed as ridiculous and humiliating by Bengalis.[12] Moreover, despite huge defence spending, East Pakistan received none of the benefits, such as contracts, purchasing and military support jobs. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 over Kashmir also highlighted the sense of military insecurity among Bengalis as only an under-strength infantry division and 15 combat aircraft without tank support were in East Pakistan to thwart any Indian retaliations during the conflict.[13][14]

The East Bengal Regiment was formed on 15 February 1948 following Pakistan's independence and transition from post British rule, composed exclusively of men from the western part of the country. The first East Bengal Regiment was composed of Bengali members of the British Indian Army Pioneer Corps and Bihar Regiment of the abolished British-Indian army. Between 1948 and 1965, a total of eight battalions of EBR were raised.[15][16]

Bangladesh Liberation War[edit]

Location of Bengali and Pakistani military units in March 1971
QF 3.7-inch mountain howitzers used by the Mukti Bahini

Following the victory of the Awami League in the 1970 elections, then-president General Yahya Khan refused to appoint its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the prime minister and launched a brutal attack named Operation Searchlight on the civilians of the then East Pakistan, using the Pakistani army to repress political movements.[17] The number of people killed by Pakistani forces vary from a minimum of around 300,000 to a maximum of around 3 million.[18][19] Responding to Mujib's call for rebellion, many students, workers and other civilians mutinied against Pakistan and raised the Mukti Bahini, a guerrilla force. Later on, many Bengali officers and units from Pakistan Army and East Pakistan Rifles mutinied against their West Pakistani counterparts and joined the Mukti bahini.[20][21][22] On 17 April 1971, Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani took oath as the commander-in-chief of Mukti bahini. While the war raged on, the necessity of a well-trained armed force was always felt. During the first Bangladesh Sector Commanders Conference, held from 11 to 17 July 1971, the Bangladesh Forces started its journey composed of the revolting Bengali members of the Pakistan Army and EPR.[23] In this historic conference the field command structure, sector reorganization, reinforcement, appointment of field commanders and tactics of warfare were decided upon and carried out. On 21 November 1971, the Bangladesh Forces was divided into three separate services as Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force.

The Bangladesh Forces received modest assistance from the Indian Government soon after the start of the war.[24] On 3 December 1971, India-Pakistan war broke out and Indian troops enter Bangladesh allied with the Bangladesh Armed Forces.[25] On 16 December 1971 the Pakistani Military force in Bangladesh surrender to a joint force of Indian and Bangladesh forces.[26]


The newly formed Bangladeshi armed forces incorporated some of the units and guerrillas of the Mukti Bahini.[27] Gen. Osmani, who had led the Mukti Bahini was appointed the General of the Bangladesh armed forces.[28] For many years, there was active discrimination in favour of the inductees from the Mukti Bahini against those Bengali officers who had continued service in the Pakistani armed forces or had been detained in West Pakistan.[27][29] A group of angered officers assassinated the president Sheikh Mujib on 15 August 1975 and established a regime with politician Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed as President of Bangladesh and new army chief Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman.[29] The military itself was subject of divisions as Mujib's assassins were overthrown by the pro-Mujib Brig. Gen. Khaled Mosharraf on 3 November, who himself was soon overthrown by a socialist group of officers under Col. Abu Taher on 7 November who returned Ziaur Rahman to power—an event now called the Sipoy-Janata Biplob (Soldiers and People's Coup).[30] Under the presidency of Ziaur Rahman, the military was reorganised to remove conflicts between rival factions and discontented cadre.[31] However, Ziaur Rahman was himself overthrown in a 1981 coup attempt,[32] and a year later, Lt. Gen. Hossain Mohammad Ershad took power from the elected government of president Abdus Sattar. The military remained the most important force in national politics under the regimes of Ziaur Rahman and later Hossain Mohammad Ershad until democracy was restored in 1991.[31]

Modern period[edit]

Bangladeshi peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan

Having relied primarily on India and Soviet Union for military aid, Bangladesh has also developed military ties with the People's Republic of China and the United States. The Bangladesh Army has been actively involved in United Nations Peace Support Operations (UNPSO). During the first Gulf War in 1991, the Bangladesh Army sent a 2,193 member team to monitor peace in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Bangladesh Army also participated in peace keeping activities in Namibia, Cambodia, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, former Yugoslavia, Liberia, Haiti, Tajikistan, Western Sahara, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Georgia, East Timor, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire and Ethiopia. As of October 2008, Bangladesh remained the second largest contributor with 9,800 troops in the UN Peacekeeping forces.

Until a peace accord was signed in 1997, the Bangladeshi military engaged in counterinsurgency operations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts fighting the Shanti Bahini separatist group. In 2001, Bangladeshi military units engaged in clashes with the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) along the northern border.[33]

Several projects and schemes aiming to expand and modernize the Bangladeshi armed forces were launched by the government of former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

Forces Goal 2030 was launched by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to secure new equipment for the Bangladeshi military.

Bangladesh-Myanmar border[edit]

Standoffs have occasionally occurred at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, including in 1991 and 2008. Most of the standoffs took place when Myanmar attempted to force Rohingyas into Bangladesh. In 2008, the two countries deployed warships after Myanmar attempted to explore a disputed Bay of Bengal seabed for oil and gas. The dispute was resolved at an international tribunal in 2012. Bangladesh and Myanmar have also conducted counter-insurgency operations on the border.

Medals and decorations[edit]

The following are the various gallantry, service and war medals of the Bangladesh Armed Forces.[34][self-published source?][35][self-published source?][36][self-published source?][37][38][self-published source?]

Gallantry awards[edit]

  • Bir Sreshtho-(Bengali: বীরশ্রেষ্ঠ; literally, "The Most Valiant Hero"), the highest gallantry award
  • Bir Uttom- (Bengali: বীর উত্তম; literally, "Better among Braves"), the second highest gallantry award
  • Bir Bikrom- (Bengali: বীর বিক্রম; literally, "Valiant hero"), the third highest gallantry award
  • Bir Protik- (Bengali: বীর প্রতীক; literally, "Symbol of Bravery or Idol of Courage"), the fourth highest gallantry award

Service medals[edit]

  • Order of Military Merit
  • Jestha Padak I (10 years service)
  • Jestha Padak II (20 years service)
  • Jestha Padak III (30 years service)

Current deployments[edit]

Map of Bangladeshi Military UN Peacekeeping Force

Bangladesh has consistently made large contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations. As of May 2007, Bangladesh had major deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Lebanon, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Cote d'Ivoire.[39] With 10,736 troops deployed, it ranks first in personnel contributions to UN peacekeeping.[40] The government declined to participate in Iraq on a request from the United States. The deployment to Liberia began in October 2003 and has remained at a level of about 3200 who are participating in peacekeeping, charitable activities and infrastructure development.


Officers are trained and educated for three years at the Bangladesh Military Academy, Bhatiary, Bangladesh Naval Academy at Patenga, both located in Chittagong and Bangladesh Air Force Academy located in Jessore. For advance training during their career, officers are sent to Bangladesh Defence Services Command and Staff College at Mirpur, while senior officers attend the National Defense University for Armed Forces War Course. Many attend the Military Institute of Science and Technology while serving. Officers of the Army Medical Corps are recruited after graduation from both military or civil medical colleges. They undergo basic military training at Bangladesh Military Academy followed by professional training in medical corps centre and Armed Forces Medical Institute. Recently cadets of Armed Forces Medical College also started joining the services directly.[41]


Bangladesh military ranks, essentially corresponds to those used by the armed forces of the commonwealth nations.

The rank insignia for commissioned officers for the Armed forces respectively.

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Bangladesh Army[42]
লেফটেন্যান্ট জেনারেল
Lēphaṭēn'yānṭa jēnārēla
মেজর জেনারেল
Mējara jēnārēla
ব্রিগেডিয়ার জেনারেল
Brigēḍiẏāra jēnārēla
লেফটেন্যান্ট কর্নেল
Lēphaṭēn'yānṭa karnēla
সেকেন্ড লেফটেন্যান্ট
Sēkēnḍa lēphaṭēn'yānṭa

 Bangladesh Navy[43]
ভাইস এ্যাডমিরাল
Bhā'isa ēyāḍamirāla
রিয়ার এ্যাডমিরাল
Riẏāra ēyāḍamirāla
লেফটেন্যান্ট কমান্ডার
Lēphaṭēn'yānṭa kamānḍāra
এ্যাক্টিং সাব-লেফটেন্যান্ট
Ēyākṭiṁ sāba-lēphaṭēn'yānṭa
Midshipman Officer cadet

 Bangladesh Air Force[44]
এয়ার চিফ মার্শাল
Ēẏāra cipha mārśāla
এয়ার মার্শাল
Ēẏāra mārśāla
এয়ার ভাইস মার্শাল
Ēẏāra bhā'isa mārśāla
এয়ার কমোডোর
Ēẏāra kamōḍōra
গ্রুপ ক্যাপ্টেন
Grupa kyāpṭēna
উইং কমান্ডার
U'iṁ kamānḍāra
স্কোয়াড্রন লীডার
Skōẏāḍrana līḍāra
ফ্লাইট লেফটেন্যান্ট
Phlā'iṭa lēphaṭēn'yānṭa
ফ্লাইং অফিসার
Phlā'iṁ aphisāra
Pilot officer Officer cadet

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet


Regular forces[edit]

Para-military forces[edit]

Civil forces and reserves[edit]

Specialized forces[edit]

Military districts[edit]

  • Savar Area Command
  • Ghatail Area Command,Tangail
  • Bogra Area Command
  • Rangpur Area Command
  • Comilla Area Command
  • Chittagong Area Command
  • Ramu Area Command
  • Jessore Area Command
  • Sylhet Area Command
  • Barisal Area Command
  • Army Training and Doctrine Command
  • Army Logistics Area

Dhaka Cantonment

  • HQ All Military Lands
  • HQ Cantonment Boards
  • HQ's of Bangladesh Army
  • Armed Forces Division (AFD)
  • 46 Independent Infantry Brigade
  • 24 Independent Engineers Brigade
  • 18 Engineers Brigade
  • 6 Air Defence Brigade
  • 14 Army Signal Brigade
  • HQ, President's Guard Regiment
  • Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB)
  • HQ's Armed Forces Medical and Nursing Corps (AFMNC)
  • Central Officer's Record Office (CORO)
  • HQ's Armed Forces Recruiting Centre (AFRC)
  • HQ's Cantonment Public Schools
  • HQ's Armed Forces Library
  • Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
  • National Armed Forces Cemetery

Educational and training institutes[edit]

Artillery Centre and School, Halishahar, Chittagong.

  • School of Military Intelligence, Moynamoti Cantonment, Comilla.
  • East Bengal Regimental Centre, Chittagong Cantonment, Chittagong.
  • Bangladesh Infantry Regimental Centre, Rajshahi Cantonment, Rajshahi.
  • Non Commissioned Officers Academy, Majira Cantonment, Bogra.[46]
  • Bangladesh University Of Professionals(BUP), Mirpur Cantonment, Dhaka.

Training institutes of Bangladesh Air Force[edit]

Training Institutes of Bangladesh Navy[edit]

  • Bangladesh Naval Academy (BNA), Chittagong.
  • BNS Shaheed Moazzem, Kaptai, Rangamati Hill District, Chittagong. (For Sailor's Advanced Training)
  • BNS ISA KHAN, Chittagong (Home of 13 Different Training Schools)
  • BNS TITUMIR, Khulna (Home of New Entry Training School (NETS) and School of Logistics and Management (SOLAM))
  • School of Maritime Warfare & Tactics, Chittagong Port.

Army Cantonments[edit]

Cantonments are where Bangladesh Army personnel work, train, and live.[48]

Air Force bases[edit]

  • BAF Base Bangabandhu (Dhaka)
  • BAF Base Sheikh Hasina (Cox's Bazar)
  • BAF Base Khademul Bashar (Dhaka)
  • BAF Base Matiur Rahman (Jessore)
  • BAF Base Paharkanchanpur (Tangail)
  • BAF Base Zahurul Haq (Chittagong)

Navy bases[edit]

Future modernisation plans[edit]

Bangladesh has made a long term modernisation plan for its Armed Forces named Forces Goal 2030.[49] The plan includes the modernization and expansion of all equipment and infrastructures and providing enhanced training.[49]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Excludes funding allocated by the Government of Bangladesh for Forces Goal 2030.


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External links[edit]