June 26: The Birthday of the Azerbaijan Army
The history of the modern Azerbaijan Army began in the early 20th century and has its roots in the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), which was established on 28 May 1918. The Azerbaijan Armed Forces founded on 26 June 1918 under the Declaration of Independence were formed in response to a need to protect the country from the military aggression of foreign states, and to neutralize the internal enemy forces. General Khosrov Bey Sultanov was appointed ADR’s first Minister of Defense.
Although the ADR survived only 23 months, it could have formed its army – one of the most attributes of an independent state.
The army-building process in Azerbaijan ceased with the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and only after 1969, when Heydar Aliyev was in power, the training of the military personnel restarted. Due to his great efforts, Aliyev managed to establish the Jamshid Nakhchivanski military lyceum in Azerbaijan in 1971. The USSR authority didn’t indifferently approach to the establishment of such a military school in Azerbaijan, because this school was considered as the main training base for skilled military officials. That time, Moscow sent commissions successively to Azerbaijan in order to justify the non-necessity of the military school, but in vain. Heydar Aliyev’s skillful diplomacy and far-sighted policy had gained success. The school raised interest of young generation in the military schooling, and Azerbaijan could build a cadre of qualified military planning staff.
Azerbaijan faced a complicated social-political situation amid the Soviet breakup. In the summer of 1993, after the insistent demand of the people, Heydar Aliyev came to power and took measures to develop the Azerbaijan Army. The process of the formation of the Azerbaijan National Army picked up speed after the 12 May 1994 ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The National Army came alive 100 years ago. Under the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 22 May 1998, June 26th was declared the Day of the Armed Forces and is annually celebrated as a holiday.
Today the Azerbaijan National Army successfully continues the political and military course of nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev under President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev.
The Azerbaijan Army is currently considered the strongest and best equipped in the South Caucasus.