By Aynur Jafarova
Azerbaijan celebrates the Day of the Armed Forces on June 26. The Azerbaijani armed forces are highly disciplined, powerful, equipped with modern military machinery, always ready to defend the country and capable of resolving any problem.
The Azerbaijani army is professional and the most powerful army in the South Caucasus region.
The skills and combat readiness of the Azerbaijani army are growing year on year. The army building process in Azerbaijan is progressing as well.
A large-scale military parade dedicated to the Day of the Armed Forces will be held in the center of Baku on June 26.
One of the founding principles for establishing an independent state is an army. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first secular democratic state of the Islamic world, took measures in the area of building armed forces. It was a very complicated process because the ADR had no national army when it was established in 1918.
According to the decision of the ADR government passed on June 26, 1918, a first regular military unit, the Separate Corps, was set up.
The history of the Day of the Armed Forces is associated with the name of Azerbaijani National Leader Heydar Aliyev.
When Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it was already in the state of war with Armenia. The Armenians had territorial claims against Azerbaijan, and as a result of this Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory.
After being elected the President of Azerbaijan in 1993 Heydar Aliyev gave a significant incentive to the army building process.
In November 1993, the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan's parliament) passed the Law on Defense. Strenuous efforts were undertaken to increase the size of the military. In early 1994, these efforts evidently helped Azerbaijani forces to regain some territory that had been lost in late 1993.
The government reached a ceasefire agreement in 1994, which created opportunities to conduct quality reforms in the Armed Forces. Constructive work and structural reforms carried out in the Armed Forces led to the planning of battle-related objectives under centralized management, management of the military divisions according to the requirements of proper military science, and improvement of the personnel.
Special attention was paid to the moral and psychological training of the servicemen, increase of their military spirit and nurturing patriotism.
Following a decree signed by President Heydar Aliyev on May 22, 1998, June 26 was announced a national holiday - the Day of the Armed Forces - and it has been celebrated in Azerbaijan since then.
The decree signed by Heydar Aliyev was a step of tremendous importance towards restoring the historical truth.
With a view to develop the system of military education in Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev also enacted a decree on establishing the Military Academy in 1999.
A lot has been done to improve the logistics of the Azerbaijani army. Azerbaijan is purchasing advanced arms, ammunition and military equipment. Modern combat aircraft, attack helicopters, troop-carrying helicopters, artillery installations, armored vehicles, communication facilities, and drones are being acquired and thus the military power of the country is growing.
Officers of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces receive education in the military academies of Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, China, Germany, Britain, Italy, Romania, Hungary as well as undergo various courses.
Azerbaijan is closely involved in the restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan. The country's peacekeeping contingent consists of 90 servicemen. In 1997 Azerbaijan established a company, and then a battalion of peacekeepers as part of its armed forces.
The peacekeepers of the national Armed Forces, who have carried out peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world and repeatedly demonstrated Azerbaijani people's commitment to universal human values and high combat readiness of Azerbaijani soldiers, have received numerous NATO awards.
The peacekeeping contingent of the Azerbaijani armed forces has been serving under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 2002. The Azerbaijani peacekeeping contingent started serving with 22-people-strong personnel and the number of the contingent was increased in 2008 and reached the level of a detachment.
The Azerbaijani parliament passed a decision in October 2009 to double the number of peacekeepers in Afghanistan to 90. The Azerbaijani servicemen are serving under the Turkish contingent in ISAF. Detachment personnel is protecting the TV tower in Kabul and an ISAF munitions storage as well as carrying out patrol service.
Ministry of Defense Industry
The establishment of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense Industry has been instrumental in strengthening the defense potential of the country.
Azerbaijan is already producing weaponry in line with NATO standards and is successfully represented in international defense industry exhibitions. Goods produced at the ministry's facilities are regularly displayed in international defense industry exhibitions.
Around 130 defense goods produced in Azerbaijan, in particular, Gurza patrol vehicles, 7.62 х 54 millimeter Gurza machine guns, 7.62 х 51 millimeter Yalguzag sniper rifles, 7.62 х 54 millimeter attack machine guns of HP-7.62 type, Aerostar and Orbiter unmanned drones, were demonstrated at IDEF 2013 International Defense Industry Fair, which was held in Istanbul on May 7-10.
IDEF-2013 was the 11th international exhibition attended by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense Industry.
A strong country should have strong armed forces. Azerbaijan is a powerful state and therefore has a formidable army. Long live the Azerbaijani Army! Long live Azerbaijan!