Bangladesh Defence Capability Review

Bangladesh defence capability is a function of developing the capacity for deterrence and domination of the maritime economic zone of the nation. While existential threat to Bangladesh are low or virtually negligible, a minimal deterrence is felt essential. Defence capability and capacity building is also seen as building the sinews of national power for holistic appraisal in the overall international community.

Bangladesh government under the Awami League has undertaken an extensive plan of capability building known as Forces Goal 2030 launched as early as in 2019 and revised in 2012 and 2017. The objectives are modernization of the three services to be able to conduct multi domain warfare. All aspects are being addressed from organization to expansion, induction of modern weapons, developing indigenous R & D and manufacturing.

The principal focus appears to be to manage a threat from the Eastern neighbour Myanmar in all spheres with focus on the maritime dimension. Militarisation of the Bay of Bengal is a significant future dimension of military threat. Expansion of defence also keeps the armed forces focused on professional activities and thus avoiding the bane of politicization while exercising political controls through budgetary largesse, promotion ladder and loyalty towards leadership.

In recent developments, Bangladesh Navy’s submarine base BNS Sheikh Hasina is being developed rapidly by the Chinese state-owned company Poly Technologies Inc (PTI). Estimated at a cost of 10,300 crore Bangladeshi taka the foundation stone was laid by the Bangladesh Navy Chief in February this year. Bangladesh Navy is also finalizing its multibillion-dollar frigate program, which foresees the construction of multirole capable guided-missile frigates at the country’s Chattogram Dry Dock LTD (CDDL) with technical cooperation from a foreign naval shipbuilder, in which Turkey is a candidate and likely front runner. Air Chief Shaikh Abdul Hannan was adorned with the rank badge of Air Chief Marshal in the presence of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh also contributes substantially to UN Peacekeeping missions and has been consistently amongst the top 5 contingent providers developing a huge supportive infrastructure, operational, training and administration. International exposure to the forces has also led to higher level of consciousness towards professionalization though how far this has impacted apolitical tendencies of the military is not clear as reports of incidents of nepotism and corruption particularly in the higher ranks continue.