Post-mutiny, Bangladesh Army proposes ‘Quick Reaction Force’

June 8th, 2009 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, June 8 (IANS) The Bangladesh Army has proposed forming a crisis management force to deal with situations like militancy and bombings in the aftermath of the mutiny by the border guard troopers in February that left 81 people, including 55 Bangladesh Army officers dead.
The army has told a parliamentary committee that it seeks to form a special unit called the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to ensure the country’s internal security. In particular, it wants to be equipped to tackle on an urgent basis incidents like mutinies and bombings, the Daily Star said Monday.

Terming such a unit “indispensable” for the country “under the current circumstances”, the army in a report claimed that QRF troops would be able to neutralise threats to the nation much quicker, the newspaper said quoting unnamed sources.

Placed for discussion before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Defence Ministry last Thursday, the report seeks the government’s approval for formation of a “QRF brigade”.

If a QRF is formed, it can also be sent to UN peacekeeping missions on short notice, which will elevate Bangladesh Army’s image in the international arena, the report claimed.

The report also suggested forming a national crisis (management) committee in light of the “current reality’ to deal with all possible future crises.

Since the Feb 25-26 mutiny by troopers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the government is working to revamp the 67,000-strong force and also its overall security apparatus.

The proposal for the formation of the national crisis management committee came after the National Security Council, the highest consulting body on security affairs, had become defunct, observed security experts.

“The absence of a national crisis management committee comprising all ministries and forces, might result in a lack of coordination and waste of time. That could create a national crisis, or the public might lose confidence in the security forces,” said the army’s report.

The report also focused on threats to the country’s security, and possible grounds for Bangladesh to get involved in “unwanted internal and external wars”, the newspaper said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina currently holds the portfolio of the defence ministry, along with the control of the Armed Forces Division. Since formation of the current government, the prime minister pledged to transform Bangladesh Army into a modern force, the report noted.

The parliamentary standing committee at a meeting May 28 opened a discussion on the army’s proposals, problems and possible solutions.

In its report, the army also focused on the need to formulate a national defence policy to specify terms and references, organisational importance and guidelines for all armed forces.

The parliamentary body echoed the view and asked the defence ministry and the Armed Forces Division to place the draft defence policy at the committee’s next meeting for discussion.

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