Bangladesh Table of Contents
The country's first line of defense, the Bangladesh Rifles, is descended from the East Pakistan Rifles formed during the period of a united Pakistan (see Pakistan Era , this ch.). The mission of the force includes patrolling borders, interdicting smugglers, investigating transborder crimes, and extending governmental authority in isolated areas. In addition, paramilitary forces provide backup to the army during wartime.
The Bangladesh Rifles came into existence shortly after independence. The original complement of 9,000 personnel were mostly East Pakistan Rifles deserters who had fought with the Mukti Bahini. By 1973 a vigorous recruiting campaign had swelled Bangladesh Rifles ranks to about 20,000 personnel. For budgeting purposes, the Bangladesh Rifles are subordinate to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The army, however, plays a major role in staffing, training, and directing the force. Most Bangladesh Rifles officers are seconded from the regular army. For instance, the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Atiqur Rahman, served as director general of the Bangladesh Rifles for four and one-half years. In addition, retired JCOs and jawans are often assigned to the Bangladesh Rifles in recognition of long years of service. Although Bangladesh Rifles units can be called upon to assist the police in putting down domestic disturbances, their primary role is to guard the nation's frontiers. The force is organized into battalions along military lines. During wartime or declared national emergencies, the president, in his role as commander in chief, can authorize the military to assume direct control over all paramilitary and police forces.
Data as of September 1988