"The army is a pillar of our country, nation,
state independence!"
Heydar Aliyev

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Ministry of Defence

The independence declaration of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic adopted on May 28, 1918 stated that Azerbaijan had to have a strong, disciplined army, institute armed forces of its own in order to be able to defend itself against any foreign invasions whilst also tackling any enemy within. It is understood that a country that has no army of its own will never be able to break away from the danger of foreign intrusion.

Under the action plan conceived for the ADR's army by the first cabinet established on May 28, 1918, the army's most significant structures and elements were supposed to have been completed by November 1, 1919. This timeframe was designated for the creation of two infantry divisions, consisting of two regiments, an artillery division, a telegraph unit, mounted squadrons and machine gun squads as part of special-purpose troops, a cavalry division of three regiments, an air squadron, and a railway battalion.

Creation of a Ministry of Defence was another priority. Although no minister of defence portfolio was officially instituted, in reality it was occupied by Hosrov-bey Sultanov from May 28 through June 11, 1918. A decision was made to establish the Ministry of Defence on October 23rd of that year. This decision was formalized on November 7th, and Fatali-khan Hoyskiy was appointed as the minister of defence. On December 26th, 1918 Samad-bey Mehmandarov, a Liuetenant General of the Russian Artillery who had served in the Russian Army, was appointed as the minister of defence, with Lieutenant General Aliagha Shikhlinski appointed as his deputy on the 29th of the same month, and Lieutenant General Suleyman Shulkevitch as the Chief of the General Staff.

Finally, the People's Republic of Azerbaijan enacted a resolution to establish the country's National Army, armed forces of its own, on June 26th, 1918.

The first army troops, the Special Azerbaijani Corps of some 5000 men was transformed from the formerly Muslim Corps, organized from the former Tartar Cavalry Regiment under General Aliagha Shikhlinski's leadership, was established by a June 26th, 1918 resolution by the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Azerbaijan. On July 11th, the government declared military mobilization, summoning all Muslim citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan born in 1894-1899 to military service.

THE SOVIET ERA

As the Ministry of DefenceW was officially dissolved in the wake of Azerbaijan's Sovietization in 1920, their functions were delegated to the People's Military Commissariat, and the Bolsheviks executed 15 of the 21 Army Generals of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, some worthy sons of Azerbaijan managed to claim great accomplishments in the military trade even during the Soviet era, and went on to become glorious and celebrated military professionals throughout the Union's warfares, including the World War II. In an effort to keep a new generation of Azerbaijani military professionals from flourishing, they were sent off to places where they could not apply any of their special military knowledge and skill. Still, dozens of Azerbaijanis became Heroes of the Soviet Union for their valor under fire, and rose through ranks, some as high as General's. Yet, there were still many obstacles to overcome.

Although there were military schools in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis had a hard time trying to get in. 

It was only with the National Leader Heydar Aliyev's rise to power in Azerbaijan in 1969 that this issue was resolved, and the number of Azerbaijanis in such schools increased. Heydar Aliyev started looking for ways to facilitate higher military education for Azerbaijani nationals. As such, he instituted the military school now known as the Jamshid Nakhchivanski military lyceum, to help Azerbaijanis get into military schools. And it was no easy task, establishing this school. But the national leader managed to tackle this issue with a great foresight, incredible courage and perseverance. 

On July 20th, 1971 the Central Bureau of Azerbaijan's Communist Party passed a resolution “On establishment of a specialized board school”, and the school opened its doors in November 1971. Heydar Aliyev took part in the grand opening ceremony and said that the school was being named after a Division Commander, General Jamshid Nakhchivanski. The national leader also managed to help Azerbaijani nationals get in the Baku High Combined Arms Command and Baku High Navy Schools, as well as other military schools throughout the USSR on favorable terms. Thus, Heydar Aliyev established a sound base for national military staff training and education 20 years before the country even regained its independence. Indeed, this military school has become one of the major pillars of the national army after we claimed our independence.

RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF Defence

A resolution by the High Council of Azerbaijan SSR established the Ministry of Defence on September 5th, 1991. A resolution was passed on October 9th of the same year to established the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, followed by formation of two tactical motor brigades of the Armed Forces from the military establishment No.18 110 of the former Soviet Army located in the town of Shikh. However, the troops experienced a dramatically short supply of arms back then.

The country was gripped by chaos and anarchy. Economy was virtually non-existent. To cap the misery, Armenians troops waged war on the newly independent Azerbaijan over Nagorno Garabagh, backed by their patrons.  In short, there was no shred of opportunity afforded to form a proper army neither in the capital, nor on the frontlines, nor in other regions. Armed groups formed around some politically inclined individuals and lay claim to power. Criminal situation was disastrous. In short, Azerbaijan was on the brink of an abyss. There was an urgent need for a strong leader, High Commander of Armed Forces who would bring order to this chaos, eradicate the anarchy, eliminate political and military collisions, unite the forces and bring the people together. Otherwise Azerbaijan was facing a serious risk of falling over that brink into the abyss.

 

At last, national leader Heydar Aliyev came to power at the people's insistence in 1993, launching a new phase of forming Azerbaijan's Army. It was Heydar Aliyev who created a disciplined army reporting to a single commander, having liquidated all of those loose armed groups who glorified themselves as local self-Defence and voluntary battalions. The High Commander in Chief's frontline trips where he met the soldiers served a great deal to enhance their morale. Politicized armed groups were indeed militarized, fragmentation was eliminated resulting in single command and a stronger Army of Azerbaijan. It wasn't long after that that in early 1994 the Azerbaijani Army made a successful operation against the enemy near the town of Horadiz, Fizuli region. Following the cease-fire declared on May 12, 1994, Azerbaijan started re-building its state-of-the-art army with confidence. National Leader Heydar Aliyev's May 22, 1998 Decree declared the 26th of June as the Armed Forces Day.

AZERBAIJAN'S ARMY TODAY

In addition to stability and dynamic development, strong army is one of the major factors characterizing Azerbaijan today. As the country's economic strength enhanced, it gave a boost to addressing social issues and military development. With the public spending on the military increasing by leaps and bounds, our army entered a whole new world of possibilities. Presently Azerbaijan's Army is going through major development processes owing to the government's never-waning support. Azerbaijan has continuously strengthened its army, developed its military staff and enhanced its military potential.

One of the major factors that contibute to the strong morale of the troops is that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Ilham Aliyev regularly visits military establishments, especially the frontline areas. The Commander in Chief who always has words of encouragement and support for our frontline soldiers and officers demonstrates his everlasting attention and care for the troops.

Azerbaijan's Army is presently one of the strongest in the region. Owing to the Commander in Chief Ilham Aliyev's will and support Azerbaijan's Army has a strong logistics footing and most state-of-the-art armaments and munitions. Development of international relations of Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry also deserves a special mention as far as the strengthening of the Army is concerned. Today Azerbaijan's Army is capable of defending the country against any attack and hostility.