A job in the army means a chance to serve the country and its people, to be able to represent the country in foreign missions, to achieve the highest honour possible for a person in life and in death. It's a career of glory and galore.
Bangladesh has a rich military history. The root of the Bangladesh Army can be found in the British era. The 'Bengal Army' regiment of that era was developed into the 'East Bengal Regiment' (EBR) of East Pakistan after independence from the British. The EBR men played a pivotal role in the 1971 war of independence, when many of them were martyred. After the war, this backbone of our defense forces went through various changes to become the modern Bangladesh Army it is today.
Bangladesh Army recruits in two categories-- commissioned and non-commissioned. NCO or non-commissioned ranks are mainly the muscle and they are the majority of the army. In Bangladesh Army, NCO ranks start from sainik (soldier) and gradually one becomes a sergeant. Good qualified sergeants are promoted to warrant officers and rise up to honourary captains as junior commissioned officers.
Commissioned ranks in Bangladesh Army are more elite ranks and can be termed as the brain of the organisation. Candidates applying for this category will start their career from Second Lieutenant position. COs are granted the honour equivalent to any class-1 gazetted officer in public service. The highest rank a CO could achieve is a four-star one-- a general in the army.
The recruitment process in the army is very tough and rigorous. Minimum educational qualification for NCO rank is SSC and for the COs, it is HSC, with specific grade requirements. CO ranks also accept students from English medium background who match the grade requirements. The applicants need to match various other physical as well as social requirements to be eligible. These requirements can be found in the Bangladesh Army recruitment website as well as in recruitment advertisements on national dailies.
The main recruitment process of Bangladesh Army is done through an exam taken by Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB). There are tests on Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ), Social Quotient (SQ), and personality, commonly known as the screen test which takes place on the first day. Only screen test qualified candidates are allowed to stay and join the rest of three days' testing events at the ISSB centre. This second stage of residential tests include- physical efficiency tests, planning tests, group tasks, command tasks, and viva to test the candidates. The candidates are put through a great deal of psychological as-well-as physical conditions to check their viability in the army.
"ISSB is very competitive thus one must remain aware and prepare for the tests he/she is going to appear during ISSB. However, a positive mindset is important. One should take the tests sportingly and remain cooperative with others. The dress code is already mentioned by ISSB in the call-up notice for the candidates. Maintaining that dress-code is always recommended," said Del H Khan, an ex-major of the Bangladesh Army.
For the CO ranks, after going through the ISSB exams, the successful applicants are accepted as cadets and go through a rigorous training process including multitude of physical and other types of training. The COs are gradually given promotions suited to their capability. "Army promotion criteria is time tested. There are achievable targets in terms of training and qualifications which keep the promotion system competitive yet fair. Any hard worker with sincerity, intellect, and passion can shine in the army," said Mr Khan.
A job in the army has its benefits. "Army life is a life of code. Keeping to the army honour code ensures a life of value and ethics. Salary is enough to live an honest life and benefits are befitting to keep the soldiers and officers motivated to sacrifice their lives in case of necessity," added the veteran regarding career in the army.
The big benefit of the army is not only it's salary but the non-cash compensations that come with the job. According to the Bangladesh Army recruitment page, non-cash compensation includes healthcare, retirement pay, childcare and free or subsidised food, housing and education of both servicemen and their children. Besides, there is a wide opportunity of serving abroad in various UN missions and earning for a better future. These missions are a very important feature of the Bangladesh Army. As the country does not face direct combat, these missions are a great way to acquire experience as well as bring honour and respect for the country.
Perks of army life continue to provide well after retirement. Of course, there is a large amount of financial benefit waiting at the end of the line; but what makes the retirement here more special are the non-financial benefits. Bangladesh Army prepares its members for a life after retirement, through various skill building and educational opportunities. The inherent qualities in the army, such as- leadership, ability to work in a group and respect for authority, makes an army man a perfect employee for many jobs. Bangladesh Army also helps its retired members to achieve employment in foreign security forces.
"One of the greatest benefits to join the army is the option to retire at any point in your career. However, every retired army officer irrespective of his/her rank is blessed with loads of leadership, administrative, and management experience. Along with pension benefits, such experiences make them valuable for other organisations and we can see many veterans are doing great in the corporate world as well," opined Del H Khan, himself a CEO of Veteran Securities Limited, a security solutions company.
Above all the financial and other material benefits, the army provides a career of respect and honour for its members. Simply being an army man helps a person stand high in society. Anyone who is pursuing glory in their life can join the Bangladesh Army and enjoy a lifetime of benefits as a bonus.
The writer is a third year BSS student at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka. He can be reached at