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Military history of Bangladesh

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Title: Military history of Bangladesh  
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Subject: National Security Intelligence, Bangladesh Army, Outline of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Air Force, Military history of Bangladesh
Collection: History of Bangladesh by Topic, Military History of Bangladesh, Military of Bangladesh
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Military history of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Military Force
Bangladesh Shena Bahini
Coat of arms of Bangladesh
Service branches Sena Bahini (Army)
Nou Bahini (Navy)
Biman Bahini (Air Force)
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB)
Bangladesh National Cadet Corps
Military age 15
Available for
military service
35,170,019 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Fit for
military service
26,841,255 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
Active personnel 197,000 (2007)
Percent of GDP 1.8% (2005)
Related articles
History Bangladesh Liberation War

The military history of Bangladesh begins with the Military of British India and from 1947, the Pakistani Armed Forces and its composition was significantly altered with the absorption of the Mukti Bahini guerrilla forces following independence.


  • Background 1
  • Bangladesh Liberation War 2
  • Post-independence 3
  • Modern period 4
  • References 5


The military history of the region covers the rule of the Sena dynasty and Mughal dynasty. The current armed forces were raised from the armed forces of British India, which included the Bengal Regiment and major installations such as the Dhaka Cantonment, Savar Cantonment and the Bogra Cantonment. With the partition 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 hampered the role and function of the Pakistani military. Bengalis were under-represented in the Pakistan military. Officers of Bengali origin in the different wings of the armed forces made up just 5% of overall force by 1965.[1] 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.[1] 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.[2][3]

Bangladesh Liberation War

Following the victory of the Awami League in the 1970 elections, then-president Gen. Yahya Khan refused to appoint its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as prime minister and launched Operation Searchlight, using the Pakistani army to repress political activity and kill intellectuals and Hindus.[4] Figures of people killed by Pakistani forces vary from a minimum of around 200,000 to a maximum of around 3 million.[5][6] Responding to Mujib's call for rebellion, many Bengali officers and units mutinied against their West Pakistani counterparts and raised the Mukti Bahini, a guerrilla force under the leadership of Gen. Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani with active support and supplies from India.[7][8][9] While the war raged on, the Bangladesh Navy was constituted in August 1971. Two ships and 45 navy personnel originally made up the force; they attacked Pakistani naval vessels.[10] The Bangladesh Air Force started up on 28 September at Dimapur in Nagaland, under Air Commodore A. K. Khandker's command. While consisting of only a handful planes and one helicopter, the Air Force carried out 12 sorties against Pakistani targets.


The newly formed Bangladeshi armed forces incorporated the units and guerrillas of the Mukti Bahini.[11] Gen. Osmani, who had led the Mukti Bahini was appointed the

  1. ^ a b Library of Congress studies
  2. ^ Demons of December — Road from East Pakistan to Bangladesh
  3. ^ Pg 166-167
  4. ^
  5. ^ Matthew White's Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century
  6. ^ Virtual Bangladesh : History : The Bangali Genocide, 1971
  7. ^
  8. ^ Mukti Bahini
  9. ^ Bangladesh Air Force
  10. ^ Bangladesh Navy History
  11. ^ a b Bangladesh Army
  12. ^ M. A. G. Osmani
  13. ^ a b Mujib coup
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b Restoration of Military Rule
  16. ^
  17. ^ India-Bangladesh border conflict
  18. ^
  19. ^ ULFA, an agent for India's enemies
  20. ^ The Bangladesh Challenge

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.


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.[17] Controversy also emerged over possible links maintained by the Bangladeshi military and intelligence agencies with Islamic terrorist groups and anti-India secessionist outfits.[18][19][20] Several projects and schemes aiming to expand and modernise the Bangladeshi armed forces have been launched by the regime of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

Having relied primarily on India and 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.

Modern period

[15] 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.[16].Abdus Sattar took power from the elected government of president Hossain Mohammad Ershad, and a year later, Lt. Gen. 1981 coup attempt However, Ziaur Rahman was himself overthrown in a [15]

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