The people of Azerbaijan have for centuries fought for liberty and statehood along with its ancient and complicated history. Because of rich natural resources and strategic geopolitical position our motherland has always undergone pressures and military aggression by strong states. However, our people have protected its existence, heroically fought the strongest troops of enemies. Commanders and statesmen such as Javanshir, Babek, Shah Ismayil Khatai have created an entire chronicle of the history of the heroism of Azerbaijan. Glorious life and actions of such heroes have strengthened love of people for the homeland, liberty and statehood, changing it to the most important goal of our life. Valuable traditions started by them were successfully continued during centuries, including the last one.
After the collapse of the czarist Russia in 1918, the first democratic republic in the East – the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan was created. During its 23-month existence, the Republic founded all attributes of independent state, including the national army. Fighting the occupant policy of Armenians and Bolsheviks the government of the Republic declared the martial law in the territory of Azerbaijan on June 19, 1918. The decision was made on June 26 on the creation of the military corps with the status of division and cornerstone of the national army in Azerbaijan was laid. In 1918-1920, national army units with high-level military training and discipline were formed under the leadership of our outstanding generals such as Semed bey Mehmandarov, Aliaga Shykhlinski. Formation of the National Army of Azerbaijan began by decree of June 26, 1918. The Military Ministry of the Republic was founded on August 1. Talented general Semed bey Mehmandarov and lieutenant-general Aliaga Shykhlinski were appointed on December 25 military minister and deputy minister respectively. For a short time, the National Army, together with Caucasus Islam Army of the Ottoman State, saved Baku and nearby provinces of occupation of Armenians and Bolsheviks. These military units were distinguished in suppressing rebellions against the national government in Mugan and Esgeran completely destroyed the Armenian regular army units breaking the Azerbaijan frontier in Gazakh. At the time, the Azerbaijan army consisted of talented generals as Huseynkhan Nakhchyvanski, Ibrahim aga Usubov, Hamid Gaytabashy, Kazim Gachar, Javad bey Shykhlinski, Habib bey Selimov.
Law ‘On founding the Frontier Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan in connection with customs’ was adopted in the session of Azerbaijan parliament held on August 8, 1919. Article 1 of the 8-article law envisaged: ’ Ninety-nine (99) frontier posts consisted of nine hundred and ninety-two (992) guards shall be founded according to the added dislocation points along frontiers of Azerbaijan to protect frontiers of the Republic of Azerbaijan from illegal trade and fight to smuggle…’
Unfortunately, the national army units – one of the most important attributes of independence were abolished after Azerbaijan was occupied by the Bolshevik Russian army. While Azerbaijan existed within the Soviet Union, the Union’s leadership always created artificial obstacles purposefully to the formation of national officer corps, promotion of Azerbaijanis in high military offices.
But all those obstacles did not shake military traditions and battle spirit of Azerbaijanis. WWII proved this truth once again. Devoted to its rich military and historical traditions the people of Azerbaijan showed real heroism in this war, Azerbaijan divisions traversed a glorious path of battle from the Caucasus to Berlin. Heroes of Azerbaijan as Hazi Aslanov, Mehdi Huseynzade, Ziya Bunyadov, Israfil Mammadov, Geray Asadov, Melik Maharramov displayed courage and heroism in this war and due to their heroism, glorious military traditions of Azerbaijan were successfully continued in XX century too.
After the war till 1969 the Union leadership was still jealous about military personnel training in Azerbaijan. Only during the leadership of national leader Heydar Aliyev in the republic formation of an army, training of national officers was on the agenda. In 1971, due to big efforts, Heydar Aliyev achieved the creation of the school preparing military personnel in Azerbaijan – military lyceum named after prominent commander Jemshid Nakhchyvanski. At the time, Azerbaijan used to send about 60.000 youth to the army yearly, however majority of them were included in building divisions. There were a few Azerbaijani officers in military units. So, the opening of such a military school in Baku was of huge significance.
Heydar Aliyev achieved admission of Azerbaijani youth to the Baku High United Command and Baku High Navy schools, also other military schools in USSR on preferential terms. So, 20 years before Azerbaijan gained independence national leader Heydar Aliyev provided the high-level basis for training of the national military personnel. After the independence was gained this military school was indeed the basic support to the formation of the national army.