The Border Guards of Bangladesh or BGB (formerly known as Bangladesh Rifles or BDR) is the largest and oldest border security force of the country. Its history dates back to the Colonial period where it was known as the Ramgarh Local Battalion in 1795.
Its mission is to protect, defend and safeguard the border of Bangladesh and prevent smuggling in addition to assisting the civilian and military authorities as per the direction of the government.
The BGB is headed by a Director General of the rank of Major General, normally deputed from the Bangladesh Army. Its manpower strength is 67,000 and is organised by a central headquarter, sectors, battalions and border outposts. Its forces are mainly stationed along the border areas of Bangladesh. In addition to being equipped with light infantry weapons and land-based logistical support it also operates helicopters and patrol vessels for transportation and patrolling purposes.
The Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) has the honour of a time tested, illustrious history of military operations spanning centuries. Its personnel fought valiantly in first and second World Wars, the independence war of Bangladesh and a large number of border skirmishes against neighbouring India and Myanmar.
Ramgarh Local Battalion (1795-1861): The BGB began its journey in 1795 as the “Frontier Protection Force” under the command of the East India Company. Later the force was converted in to a paramilitary unit with its own name (Ramgarh Local Battalion) and uniform to suppress insurgents around the Ramgarh area. During 1799, the force established its first camp at today’s Dhaka’s Peelkhana, where the headquarters still remain to this day. The camp unit was known as “Special Reserve Company”.
Frontier Guards (1861-1891): The Ramgarh Local Battalion was renamed the Frontier Guards befitting its wider role as defenders.
Bengal Military Police (1891-1919): The Frontier Guards was reorganised and equipped with more modern weapons in 1891 as the “Bengal Military Police”. Commanded by a Subedar (Senior Warrant Officer), the BMP had four companies located at Dhaka, Dhumka and Gangtok.
Eastern Frontier Rifles (1920-1947): The Bengal Military Police was reorganised and renamed as the “Eastern Frontier Rifles” in 1920 to protect the borders of the country.
East Pakistan Rifles (1947-1972): After the partition of the Indian sub-continent “Eastern Frontier Rifles” was regrouped and renamed the “East Pakistan Rifles”. A metropolitan armed police unit from Kolkata and some 1,000 ex-soldiers of West Pakistan merged in to the force. Officers from the Pakistan Army were assigned to command the force. The strength of the force was 13,454 in March 1971.
Bangladesh Rifles (1972-2009): After the emergence of Bangladesh, the East Pakistan Rifles was renamed as the “Bangladesh Rifles” in 1972. Officers from the Bangladesh Army commanded the force as was done in the past.
Border Guard Bangladesh (2009-Present): On the 25th of February 2009, three to four thousand soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutinied killing more than 50 officers including inside the Peelkhana based headquarters in Dhaka. The Director General of BDR, Major General Shakil Ahmed, most of the sector commanders including the Dhaka sector commander Colonel Mujibul Haq were viciously killed in the ensuing violence.
Later on the government chose to reorganise and rename the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) to Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) through an act passed in the parliament.
At present there are 61 battalions in the Border Guards of Bangladesh.
The Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) is commanded by a Major General given the title of Director General. He is assisted by a Deputy Director General of the Brigadier General rank.
A colonel level officer is the Director of Operations and Training in this paramilitary force, while another officer of the same rank is the Director Administration.
The force is organised in to 4 regional headquarters including Southwestern regional HQ: Jessore, Northwestern regional HQ: Naogaon, Northeastern regional HQ: Sarail, Brahmanbaria, Southeastern regional HQ: Khagrachari, 12 operational sectors including Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Comilla, Chittagong, Rangamati, Khagrachari, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Kushtia and Khulna. Each sector is commanded by a Colonel, seconded from the Bangladesh Army.
Currently the BGB Director General is Major General Rafiqul Islam. He assumed his duty as the chief of the BGB on the 15th of April 2010.
BGB personnel are imparted with standard military training as well as law enforcement, special warfare and counter terrorism training.
The main training centre is known as Baitul Izzat and is located in Chittagong.
The BGB is equipped with night vision gear, an array of modern communications devices such as frequency hopping radios. Weapons of the force include rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, pistols, recoilless rifles. Transportation is undertaken through the use of unarmoured troop carrying trucks, pickup trucks, armoured personnel carriers, motorbikes, armoured landing craft, patrol vessels and helicopters.