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Military history of Azerbaijan



The military courage of people of Azerbaijan for the protection of the homeland has the ancient and rich history. Military leaders like Muhammad Jahan Pahlavan and Qizil Arslan, Javanshir and Babak, Uzun Hasan and Shah Ismail Khatai had served for own people in their struggle for independence.
During 90 years of existence of Northern Azerbaijan as a part of Tsarist Russia (1828-1917) Russian empire had deprived our people from military service, and Muslim Azerbaijanis had paid various taxes instead of serving in Army. Only separate persons from high nobility and intellectual strata of the people could sent their children to military schools of Russia and during this period certain number of military officers was formed from Azerbaijanis and they had demonstrated samples of high military leadership in the battles. Ibrahim Bey Allahverdi oglu Aslanbeyov (1822-1900) was upgraded up to the rank of Vice-Admiral had been graduated from the St. Petersburg Naval Corps, served in the Black and Baltic seas as commander of military ships, and in 1878, after receiving the rank of rear admiral he was appointed as Chief of the Russian 8th naval fleet. Admiral I. Aslanbeyov during 1879-1882 with the staff of the ship was in world voyage, and commanded speedy sailing ships in the Pacific Ocean, and in 1887 he promoted up to the rank of Vice-admiral. Major Iskenderbey Mammadkerim oglu Hajinsky (1809-1878) was in service in Russian army since 1835 and participated in the Crimean War (1853-56). He was awarded with Russian 3rd class Anna and 2nd class Stanislav orders, and 2nd class “Shir-i-Khurshid” order of Iran. In the course of the Russian-Japanese War when the Japanese fleet encircled the Russian Far East at the fortress of Port Arthur (the siege lasted more than 5 months), in these operations Colonel S. Mehmandarov and captain  A.Shikhlinski , colonel Hussein Khan Nakhchivanski and colonel Ilyas bey Agalarov also took part. Our compatriot Abulfat Najafgulu oglu Shakhtakhtinski that fought as a battalion commander in that war had observed maneuvers of Swiss Army in 1912 as a military representative of the Russia in the rank of colonel. Azerbaijani generals Teymur bey Novruzov, Amir Kazim Gajar, Amanulla khan Gajar (born in Shusha) were participants of the First World War. General T. Novruzov four times was awarded withthe Order of Saint George. Being originally from Tovuz the Novruzovs had 3 generals, the Gajars 7 generals, the Yadigarovs 4 generals. # 81 Absheron regiment, regiment of Dagestan (№ 82), Samur regiment (№ 83), Shirvan regiment (№ 84), as well as the Shamakhi regiment (№ 205) and Salyan regiment (№ 206) took part in military operations during World War I in the structure of the Russian army’s 21st infantry division (the division commander was General Samad bey Mehmandarov).
In XIX century and the early of the XX century dozens of well-known military leaders representing the people of Azerbaijan were formed. The Bakikhanovs in Baku, the Shıkhlinski and the Vekilovs in Gazakh, the Javansirs in Grabagh, the Kengerlis in Nakhchivan, the Javadkhans in Ganja and generals from generations living in other regions had spread the fame of the people of Azerbaijan all over the world. The first proposal on the establishment of a national army in Azerbaijan was done after the collapse of the Russian tsar empire, at Congress of the Caucasian Moslems, held in May 1917 and the decision was adopted at that Congress to set a special bureau to begin formation of Moslem regiments. Shortly after this, in October of the same year at the 1st Congress of Azerbaijani Turkish Federalists Democratic Party - Musavat the formation of the national army was discussed. 
In November 1917 the Commissioner for the South Caucasus republics passed a resolution on the establishment of the national military corps in the Caucasus. Formation of Azerbaijani Corps was assigned to the general Aliaga Shıkhlinski. Unlike Armenia and Georgia this job was going very slowly in Azerbaijan. As a result, when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed on May 28, 1918, there was just one military unit of 600 staff in the country, composed of former Muslim volunteers groups. Of course, with this small military force to defend the independence of Azerbaijan
and to prevent the attack of the Soviet-led Shaumyan (Baku Commune) on Ganja was difficult. In such situation the only country that could help Azerbaijan was Turkey. For this purpose, the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Fatali Khan Khoyski asked the government of Turkey on military assistance.  
The military expenses of state budget of the Government of the People\'s Republic of Azerbaijan for the year 1919 budget was 24 percent and it was intended to establish a national army of 25 thousand people in the same year. Defense Minister General S. Mehmandarov in his letter sent to the Council of Ministers on April 2, 1919, had shown importance of military training of the people of Azerbaijan in the spirit of national patriotism basing on the famous military history of Azerbaijani people and the heroism.  
In late 1919, the Azerbaijani army consisted of two infantry and one cavalry divisions. In addition to two artillery batteries and special division with light guns were created in Ganja city. The army at that time consisted of three armored trains, 4 military aircrafts, 6 armored vehicles, etc. 
At the beginning of 1920, it was planned to bring the number of personnel of the army to 40 thousands. It was planned to recruit young people aged 19-24 to serve in the military. It was planned to purchase 5 tanks, 12 hydroplanes, 6 airplanes, 9 armored cars, etc. to strengthen the army. The military factory began to work in Ganja. But at the same time purchasing of weapon from the European countries met with great difficulties for Azerbaijan. Thus, the Entente countries, knowing the relations of Azerbaijan with the Ottoman Turkey, did not want to sell him weapons. However, the army of Azerbaijan was significantly strengthened and highly disciplined army was established. In September 1919, the British military correspondent Scotland Liddle, visited Baku wrote in his impressions: I was told that I would met with chaos here, but I did not see any chaos ... along the way, we met with the hundreds of young soldiers of Azerbaijani army, they were not those soldiers, that I saw two years ago. They even were unlike as a month before. Azerbaijani army was formed rapidly, quickly got the necessary shape. Azerbaijan had understood that the undisciplined army simply can not survive. The iron discipline dominates in Azerbaijan, a discipline that was not even in Russia.
During the period of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920) it had 21 military generals. They were Samad bey Mehmandarov, Aliaga Shikhlinski, Khosrov bey Sultanov, Ibrahim agha Vekilov, Ibrahim aga Usubov, Huseynkhan Nakhchivanski, Mirkazımkhan Talıskhanov, Firudin bey Vezirov, Qalib  bey Vekilov, Daniyal bey Hallajov, Aliyar bey Hashımbeyov, Suleyman bey Efendiyev, Teymur bey Novruzov,  Amir Kazim Mirza Gajar, Mohammed Mirza Gajar, Amanulla Mirza Gajar, Feyzulla Mirza Gajar, Javad bey Shıkhlinski, Mammed Sadiq bey  Agabeyzade and others. Lieutenant-General Mammadbey Sulkevich (Lithuanian Tartar, adopted the citizenship of the Azerbaijan) was the Chief of Army Headquarters and later the commander of the corps in Azerbaijan in 1918 and 1919.  
Major-General Javad bey Shikhlinski, General Mohammed Mirza Gajar have led the struggle of people against Army XI in Ganja. From generals Minister of defense Khosrov bey Sultanov, Minister of Internal Affairs Behbud Javanshir worked in the 1st and 2nd Cabinet of government of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Khosrov bey Sultanov worked as governor-general of Garabagh in 1919. The official researches show that, as a result of Bolshevik-Dashnak terrorism 12 generals, 27 colonels and lieutenant-colonels, 46 captains and stabs captains 148 warrant officer and odpraporshiks, poruchiks and podporuchiks and other 266 officers served in 1920 in the Azerbaijan National Army have been killed.
At the same time  the majority of the victims of red terror that were executed in 1920 in the Nargin island, our generals were as follows: Major-General Habib bey Haji Yusuf oglu Selimov (the first defense minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan), Major-General Amir Kazim Gajar, Major-General Ibrahim aga Usubov, Lieutenant-General Mohammad bey Sulkevich, Major-General Abdulhamid bey Sharifbey oglu Gaytabashı, Major-General Murad Garaybey oglu Tlekhas (Cherkez nationality Murad bey came voluntarily in Azerbaijan in 1918), Major-General Aliyar bey Mehdi oglu Hashımbeyov.  
While the Republic of Azerbaijan was within the USSR, from January 1, 1923 to following first 17 years (i.e. before till the beginning of the Great Patriotic War period) the citizens of Republic besides being recruited to the Soviet Army, there was one infantry division in Azerbaijan. That mountain infantry division was organized on October 30, 1920 and existed till 1938. Jamshid Nakhchivanski was division commander in 1924-1930(1895-1938). When organization of Soviet Army passed from purely territorial system to the personnel system (1938) the same divisions were included in the composition of the army under the name of 77th division of Trans-Caucasus military district (established in 1935).  
After the restoration of state independence of Azerbaijan for the second time, by the decision of the Supreme Soviet dated September 1991 the Ministry of Defense, and by decision dated October 9 the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan was established. By Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated September 18, 1992, October 9 was declared as the Day of Azerbaijani Armed Forces. However, by presidential decree, dated May 22, 1998 that day was annulled to be Day of Armed Forces and instead June 26 was declared as Day of Armed Forces.
At present, the Azerbaijani army is the biggest Army in the region able to defend Azerbaijan\'s statehood and territorial integrity.  
Today, the Azerbaijan National Army, which is considered the most modern army in the Caucasus, consists of Air and Air Defense, Navy and land forces. These types of armed forces can fight potential enemy with fighter and bomber aircrafts. Within the framework of the CIS Azerbaijan is considered to be the most powerful countries in respect of its air defense forces. By annually increase of budget funds for these purposes the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan increases its military potentiality.
In 2003, Azerbaijan\'s military budget was 115 million (135 million USD), whereas, in 2010 it was 2.2 billion (2.7 billion USD), in 2011 it was expected as 2,4 billion (3.0 billion USD).
Azerbaijani army since 1994 cooperates with NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace Program, and further Azerbaijani Armed Forces have relations with some foreign countries.
In addition, the Azerbaijan\'s peacekeeping forces took part in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq in the international operations.

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