In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Azerbaijan was part of the Tsarist Russian regime, ordinary Muslims were not conscripted into the army. Only descendants of noble families had the right to serve in the army and receive a military education. In the Tsarist Russia era, Azerbaijan produced many outstanding military figures. Among them were General Samad bay Mehmandarov, General Aliagha Shikhlinski, General Faraj bay Aghayev, General Ehsan Khan Nakhchivanski.
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established on 28 May 1918, and one of its key tasks was army building. On 26 June, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established its first regular army unit – a 5,000-strong Special Army Corps of Azerbaijan. The formation of the national army units together with the Caucasian Islamic Army of the Ottomans saved Baku and its surrounding provinces from the Armenian-Bolshevik occupation and played a crucial role in protecting national statehood, the inviolability of borders and security. According to results of WWI, when the Ottoman military unit had to leave Azerbaijan, the Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on 1 November 1918, under which army building was entrusted to the Azerbaijani government. On 25 December of the same year, General of the artillery Samad bay Mehmandarov became minister of the military, while Lieutenant General Aliagha Shikhlinski became deputy minister on 29 December. In a short time, they did a lot in the field of army building. In March 1919, the army of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic staged a ceremonial military parade in Ganja.
Following the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Bolsheviks abolished the national army and executed 15 out of 21 generals of the Azerbaijani armed forces.
The Azerbaijanis tried to master military professions even when they were not independent. During WWII, Azerbaijan produced a new grand corps of servicemen, officers and generals. Heroes of the Soviet Union such as Israfil Mammadov, Gafur Mammadov, Huseynbala Aliyev, Mehdi Huseynzade displayed true heroism in the fight against fascism. It was at that time that General Hazi Aslanov, General Akim Abbasov, General Mahmud Abilov, General Tarlan Aliyarbayov and many others inscribed their names in history.
Although the ministry of defense was established in Azerbaijan after the country restored its independence in 1991, it failed to properly fulfill its functions and protect people`s interests until national leader Heydar Aliyev returned to power in 1993. This marked a new era in the history of the Azerbaijani armed forces. Officers who graduated from the Jamshid Nakchivanski Military Lyceum, which was established by national leader Heydar Aliyev in 1971, were engaged in army building. Higher military schools were reorganized and new ones were established.
National leader Heydar Aliyev always attached great importance to the glorious history of the army of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. On 22 May 1998, the national leader signed an Order proclaiming 26 June, the day when the Special Army Corps of Azerbaijan was established, as the Day of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan.
Nowadays the Azerbaijani army is going through the most glorious stage of its history. Military parades held in 2008, 2011 and 2013 demonstrated the power of the Azerbaijani army.
The historic victory achieved in April 2016 after a counter-offensive was launched in response to the continued provocations of the Armenian armed forces on the line of contact was further evidence of the Azerbaijani army’s power and determination to win.
In May 2018, a total of 11,000 hectares of land in Nakhchivan occupied by Armenians in the early 1990s were liberated as a result of a successful operation by the Nakhchivan Special General Army.
On 26 June 2018, a ceremonial military parade was held in Azadlig Square in Baku on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The parade featured Azerbaijani flags raised in the lands liberated from the occupiers during the April 2016 battles and the Nakhchivan operation in 2018. Speaking at the parade, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev said the territorial integrity of the country will be restored. “The day will come when, after the liberation of the occupied territories, the Azerbaijani flag which will be raised there will be brought to Azadlig Square and displayed in a military parade.”
Under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, the people of Azerbaijan united like an iron fist. They proved to the whole world that it was impossible to break their will and force them to come to terms with the occupation. In response to Armenia’s incessant provocations, Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces launched the “Iron Fist” operation on 27 September 2020 and, as a result of the 44-day Patriotic war that lasted until 10 November, forced the occupying country to kneel and capitulate.
The Azerbaijani flags hoisted across the liberated lands were displayed at the Victory Parade in Azadlig Square in Baku on 10 December 2020. On the occasion of this historic date, the President of Azerbaijan said: “Every single day of these 44 days is our glorious history. Every day, Azerbaijan’s Army advanced, liberating cities, villages, settlements and heights. Azerbaijani soldiers and officers fought to put an end to this occupation and injustice, to restore historical justice, and we achieved that.”
The glorious victory in the Patriotic War, along with the demonstration of the military power and economic strength of the Azerbaijani state, was a vivid testimony to our people’s determination to triumph.