The commemoration of Armed Forces Day on November 21 was marked by vibrant celebrations, honoring the establishment anniversary of Bangladesh’s army, navy, and air force. President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to the martyrs of the Armed Forces at Shikha Anirban. The President laid a wreath at the Dhaka Cantonment’s Shikha Anirban altar. A moment of silent reflection ensued, underscored by a military salute and a poignant bugle tune.
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her capacity as Defense Minister, also laid a wreath at Shikha Anirban, observing a solemn silence in tribute to fallen heroes. A guard of honor by the Army, Navy, and Air Force, accompanied by a somber bugle rendition, added gravity to the occasion. Post-wreath laying, the Prime Minister proceeded to the Armed Forces Division, where security adviser Major General (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique and the service chiefs paid a courtesy call. Chiefs of the three services, General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, Admiral Mohammad Nazmul Hasan, and Air Chief Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan, individually laid wreaths at Shikha Anirban.
Glorious Past of Armed Forces
The Bangladesh Liberation War commenced initially as a resistance movement when the Pakistan Army launched a crackdown on March 25, 1971, starting in Dhaka and later expanding across the entirety of Bangladesh. In response, the Bangladesh Forces gradually formed small guerrilla fighter groups employing ‘hit and run’ tactics. In the third stage of the conflict, Bengali military personnel serving in the Pakistan Army, Navy, and Air Force defected from their respective units to join the Bangladesh Forces. They organized themselves into regular units on Indian territory, primarily forming the Land Force. A Naval wing was established by a small group of Naval Commandos, while a few Pilots and Airmen formed the Air Wing. On November 21, 1971, after nearly nine months of the liberation war, the three forces coordinated a joint operation, symbolizing this day as Armed Forces Day.
Nation’s Pride: Commitment of the Armed Forces
The armed forces stand as a source of national pride, evolving from their humble origins during the Great Liberation War to become a formidable organization today. Recognizing the imperative for a robust and professional military post-independence, the Father of the Nation, in the face of limited resources, established the Bangladesh Military Academy, Combined Arms School, and distinct training centers for each army corps in 1972.
Members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces exhibit unwavering dedication and self-sacrifice in times of national crises. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bangladesh Army emerged as a frontline defender, implementing widespread ‘lock-down activities’ across the nation. They not only raised public awareness about epidemic prevention but also established and managed quarantine centers for incoming international travelers. The Bangladesh Army’s commendable efforts to assist the vulnerable during the pandemic have garnered significant appreciation.
Furthermore, the Bangladesh Army’s reputation extends beyond national borders, particularly in their response to various disasters. Annually facing natural calamities like cyclones, tidal waves, and floods, the army consistently puts their lives at risk to serve the country and its people, earning admiration worldwide.
UNPKF Heroics: Bangladesh’s Armed Forces Stand Tall
Bangladesh has garnered global acclaim for its exemplary professionalism and sincerity in peacekeeping endeavors. The nation’s peacekeepers bravely venture into conflict zones worldwide, risking their lives to safeguard human rights.
At present, Bangladesh is one of the significant contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh Army personnel started participating in UN peacekeeping missions in 1988 by sending 15 observers to the United Nations Iraq-Iran military observer group mission. Bangladesh Police joined in the next year (1989). Subsequently, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force joined United Nations peacekeeping operations in 1993.
Until now, Bangladesh has successfully completed 63 Peacekeeping missions in around 40 countrieswhere 1, 67,274 peacekeepers from Bangladesh Armed Forces have taken part. At present, Bangladesh is one of the leading troops contributing countries with a total of 6,924 peacekeepers deployed in 12 countries.
Presently, every member of the armed forces is fueled by a profound sense of patriotism and the legacy of the liberation war, actively contributing to the nation-building process. The motivation within the armed forces stems from unwavering confidence in leadership, a deep-seated sense of patriotism, mutual respect and trust, professional competence, and a commitment to discipline.
While our foreign policy emphasizes peaceful relations with all nations, the imperative for a professional and modern armed force remains undeniable in preserving the country’s independence and sovereignty. As Bangladesh progresses at a unique pace, the armed forces must align with this trajectory. Collective efforts are indispensable in achieving this goal, reinforcing the irreplaceable role of a well-equipped and modern military in the nation’s advancement.