Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday declared the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as a three-dimensional force.
She made the announcement while addressing a programme for inducting two MI-171E helicopters – purchased from Russia – into the Air Wing of BGB, held at the Bir Anwar Hossain Parade Ground in its headquarters in Pilkhana, Dhaka.
The premier attended the event virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.
Previously, the BGB had the means to operate in land and water only, but with the induction of two helicopters, their operational capacity has extended to air as well.
The two helicopters – named after Birshrestha Nur Mohammad and Birshreshtha Munshi Abdur Rouf – can fly at over 6,000 metres altitude and are able to run at 250 kilometres per hour speed.
Each of the helicopters can lift objects weighing up to 3,000 kilograms, having a provision to carry 26 passengers and 12 patients at a time. They have a modern autopilot system as well as air-conditioning.
The two flying vehicles are said to make the BGB's overall activities more dynamic and help in their operations, ration supply, and administrative actions.
The premier recalled that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the closing parade of the third batch of the then Bangladesh Rifles, now BGB, on 5 December 1974 said this force would play a significant role in protecting the country's sovereignty alongside economy by guarding the frontier and containing smuggling.
"I expect each BGB soldier would uphold this force's fame and dignity by discharging their duties with honesty, faith, and patriotism, keeping the aspiration of the Father of the Nation in mind," she continued.
Premier Sheikh Hasina said the BGB protects the border of the country which is a task of immense importance.
"For this, the government will do whatever this force needs," she said.
The government has taken massive reforms and development programmes to make the BGB a modern and time-befitting border force, she continued.
She mentioned that the government has passed the BGB Act-2010 and to make it a world standard modern border guard force the government has taken plans to formulate "Border Guard Bangladesh Vision-2041".
"Now, the BGB is a very skilled, well-organised, and dynamic force," the premier said, adding that the government has completed huge development works to improve the operational capability of the BGB, while many other works will be completed soon.
Later, a replica of the MI-171E helicopter was given to the prime minister.
At the beginning of the programme, a smartly turned out contingent of BGB presented a salute to the prime minister.
Recruitment of 15,000 BGB troopers on cards
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government has a plan to recruit 15,000 more members in the BGB, which will be implemented in three steps.
In the first step, there will be a regional headquarter with 4,282 personnel, one K-9 unit, one regional intelligence bureau, one station headquarter, and one guard police battalion.
These will be completed by 2022.
In the second phase, there will be a sector, five battalions, one reserve battalion, one K-9 unit, and a training centre with 5,782 members, she said, adding that an increase in manpower for five border guard hospitals is also under consideration.
She said the purchase of two ultra-modern fast craft, seven ocean-going ultra-modern high-speed boats, two marina, and two trailers is under process.
The prime minister said the government in the ECNEC meeting held on 22 September this year approved a project to build 73 more new composite BOP. This will have a positive impact on soldiers' morality apart from increasing BGB's operational capacity many times, she continued.
Talking about the unwanted incident that took place in this force, she said that the government does not want a recurrence of such incidents.
"Many lives were lost. Those who were involved in this kind of incident caused loss for themselves, the force, and the country," she said.
She hoped that this kind of incident will not happen again in the future.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Senior Secretary of Public Security Division of Ministry of Home Affairs Mostafa Kamal Uddin, and BGB Director General Major General Md Shafeenul Islam also spoke at the programme from Pilkhana.