Civil-Military Relations In Bangladesh : A Critical Analysis

CMR in Bangladesh Perspective

Bangladesh is a unique example in the world in the context of CMR (Civil-Military Relations) . Bangladesh has a people oriented military where military co-exists with civilian in a homogeneous society. The success of proactive CMR in Bangladesh first realized from our great liberation war in 1971 when trained military and civilian population fought together and earned coveted freedom. But, just after three and half years of independence, military intervention took place. During that period, armed forces carried out many development activities. But their efforts had lost their credibility as those were not fulfilled under constitutional civilian democratic government_ (Hossain, 1991). Thereafter, democracy has been re-established in the year 1991. At present, the majority of the respondent’s view is the state of CMR at present is moderate to bad. It indicates the need for improvement of CMR in Bangladesh.

Factors Affecting the CMR in Bangladesh

Mutual Trust and Understanding.

Lack of trust makes the relationship bitter and creates non-cooperative environment. Consequently, the development of the country as a whole jeopardizes. On the other hand, mutual trust and understanding in each and every level of CMR expedites the country’s overall development mission.

Conceptual Difference between Civil and Military.

Military rules, regulations, norms and culture are conservative and traditional in nature. On the other hand, civilian machinery is more flexible and adaptable to changes demanded by the political and social environment_ (Siddique, 2016). So it is difficult for one to comprehend other’s business.

Isolation of Military.

Military personnel stay in the secured periphery of cantonments or bases. Military matters are generally kept secret by the military establishment_ (Karim, 2002). This makes them isolated from civil population. This physical isolation sometimes creates gap between civilian and military.

Use of Military in Political Purpose.

Sometimes political parties try to increase their influence in the military hierarchy. Thus military lose their neutrality as well as professionalism.

Visibility of Power.

The arms carried or uniform worn by military itself is a source of power. If military can express their humbleness putting on uniform, civil people gets a feeling of confidence whereas arrogance put the relationship in question.

Summary :

A healthy CMR can contribute in national development significantly but military alone is not in a position to fully materialize proactive CMR. Both civil and military entities should work in harmony for the common goal of national development. Military should also accept the lawful political control and maintain transparency by relevant information sharing. Media can effectively be utilized for this purpose. The experts in CMR strongly suggested the formation of a viable cabinet committee for defence headed by the Prime Minister. They also opted for establishing National Security Council to address civil-military issues, which will bring radical changes in proactive CMR.


Based on the overall findings, the present study puts forward the followings recommendations:

  • a. CMR directorate in AFD can be effectively utilized to deal with civil-military related issues. Alternatively, the National Security Council can be established to deal, among others, with CMR issues.
  • b. Media can effectively be used to build a positive image of the military. To that end, ISPR can be reformed and reorganized to enhance the relation between armed forces and media personnel.
  • c. The Ministry of Education can be persuaded to incorporate CMR in the secondary or higher secondary syllabus so that every citizen has clear idea regarding CMR.
  • d. Persuasion for increasing the number of Cadet Colleges can be done.
  • e. Bangladeshi retired military think-tanks can work in collaboration with civil experts and media personnel after retirement to enhance CMR
  • . f. An effective policy for CMR can be prepared by civil and military experts.

Written By —-

Lt Cdr Mirza Rokaiya Noor Popy (E)

Lt Cdr Mirza Rokaiya Noor Popy (E), BN was commissioned on 21 Dec 2001. On completion of her basic training from Bangladesh Naval Academy, and on board naval ships, the officer was sent to Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). From there, she has completed her graduation on Mechanical Engineering in 2006. The officer has undergone various courses both at home and abroad, namely, Marine Engineering Specialization Course at BNS SHAHEED MOAZZAM, Junior Staff Course at BNA, Maritime Operational Terminology Course in Turkey and Warship Maintenance Course in China. In her career, she has experience of working in different appointments which encompasses instructional and staff job in BN Dockyard and NHQ. Besides, she has served on board BNS S R Amin as Engineer Officer and on board BNS UMAR FAROOQ. The officer served as Military Staff Officer (Personnel) in MINUSCA (Central African Republic) in 2014-15.

This is the Extract from Mirpur Papers, Volume 23, Issue 26, October 2017 of Defence Services Command and Staff College . Read The Full Paper in This Link

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