Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran
نیروی های مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران

niroohay e mosallah e jomuri e eslami e Iran

Armed Forces Headquarter
Founded 1923 (as modern military)
Current form 1980
Service branches Military of Iran logo.png Islamic Republic of Iran Army
Military of Iran logo.png Ground Forces
Iran navy logo.png Navy
Iran Air Force logo.png Air Force
Iranian Air Defense Force


Ground Forces
Air Force
Quds Force

Iran Police Force.jpg Police Force

Headquarters Tehran
Supreme Commander Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Commander-in-Chief of the Army
Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC
Chief of Staff
General Ataollah Salehi

General Mohammad Ali Jafari
Major General Hassan Firuzabadi
Active personnel 545,000 (ranked 8th)
Reserve personnel 650,000
Budget $9.174 billion (2008)[1]
(24th by total expenditure)
Percent of GDP 2.7% (2008)[1]
Domestic suppliers Defense Industries Organization
Iran Aviation Industries Organization
Aerospace Industries Organization
Iran Electronics Industries
Ghods Industry
Foreign suppliers  Russia[2]
 North Korea
 United States (as of Pahlavi's Era)
Related articles
History Military history of Iran

Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran
Dhofar Rebellion
Seizure of Abu Musa
Iran–Iraq War
Kurdish Civil War
Herat Uprising

Ranks Air Force Ranks Insignia

Army Ranks Insignia
Navy Ranks Insignia
IRGC Ranks Insignia

The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: نيروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ايران) include the IRIA (Persian: ارتش جمهوری اسلامی ایران) and the IRGC (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی) and the Police Force [4] (Persian: نيروی انتظامی جمهوری اسلامی ایران).

These forces total about 545,000 active personnel (not including the Police Force and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution).[5] All branches of armed forces fall under the command of General Headquarters of Armed Forces (ستاد کل نیروهای مسلح). The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics is responsible for planning logistics and funding of the armed forces and is not involved with in-the-field military operational command.

  • The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Its membership is a matter of controversy. Iranian sources claim a membership of 12.6 million, including women, of which perhaps 3 million are combat capable. There are a claimed 2,500 battalions of which some are full-time personnel.[7] quotes a 2005 study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimating 90,000 active-duty full-time uniformed members, 300,000 reservists, and a total of 11 million men that can be mobilized if need be.[8]

Iran's military was called the Middle East's most powerful by General John Abizaid chief of United States Central Command (U.S. forces' commander in the region). However General Abizaid said he did not include the Israel Defense Forces as they did not fall into his area of operations.[9]


Modern history

When the Pahlavi dynasty took power in 1925, following years of war with Russia, the standing Persian army was almost non-existent. The new king Reza Shah Pahlavi, was quick to develop a new military. In part, this involved sending hundreds of officers to European and American military academies. It also involved having foreigners re-train the existing army within Iran. In this period the Iranian Air Force was established and the foundation for a new Navy was laid.

The British and Russians invaded Iran in 1941. Following World War II, 1500 Iranian troops supported the Sultan of Oman against the Dhofar Rebellion from 1962-1975. In 1971, Iranian forces besieged Abu Musa and the Tunb islands. Before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran contributed to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Iran joined ONUC in the Congo in the 1960s, and ten years later, Iranian troops joined UNDOF on the Golan Heights.

Several years later Revolutionary Iran was taken by surprise by the Iraqi invasion that began the Iran–Iraq War of 1980-1988. During this conflict, there were several confrontations with the United States. From 1987, the United States Central Command sought to stop Iranian mine-laying vessels from blocking the international sea lanes through the Persian Gulf in Operation Prime Chance. The operation lasted until 1989. On April 18, 1988, the U.S. retaliated for the Iranian mining of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) in Operation Praying Mantis.

A former military-associated police force, the Iranian Gendarmerie, disbanded in 1990.

In 1991, the Iranian armed forces received a number of fleeing Iraqi aircraft which were incorporated into the Air Force. From 2003, there have been repeated U.S. and British allegations that Iranian forces have been covertly involved in the Iraq War. In 2007, Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces also took prisoner Royal Navy personnel when a boat's party from HMS Cornwall was seized in Iraq waters.

Iran has launched no wars of choice in modern history, and its leadership adheres to a doctrine of "no first strike."[10] The country's military budget is the lowest per capita in the Persian Gulf region besides the UAE.[10]

Since 1979, there are no foreign military bases present in Iran. According to Article 146 of the Iranian Constitution, the establishment of any foreign military base in the country is forbidden, even for peaceful purposes.[11]


Supreme Leader of Iran with Iranian military commanders.
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, in Persian: فرمانده کل قوا)
  • General Ahmad Vahidi (سرتیپ پاسدار احمد وحیدی) (Minister of Defense)[12]
  • General Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi (سرلشگر بسیجی سید حسن فیروزآبادی)(Head of the Armed Forces General Command Headquarters, in Persian: رئیس ستاد کل نیروهای مسلح)
  • Lieutenant General Yahya Rahim Safavi (Senior Advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution)[13]
  • Major General Mohammad Hejazi (Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces)[14]
  • Islamic Republic of Iran Army
    • General Ataollah Salehi (سرلشگر عطا الله صالحی)(Commander-in-Chief of the Army, in Persian: فرمانده کل ارتش)
    • General Abdolrahim Mousavi (امیر سرتیپ عبدالرحیم موسوی) (Chief of the Joint Headquarter of the Army)
    • General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan (سرتیپ احمدرضا پور دستان) (Commander of the Ground Force)
    • General Hassan Shahsafi امیر سرتیپ حسن شاه صفی) (Commander of the Air Force)[15]
    • General Ahmad Mighani (Commander of Air Defense)[16]
    • Admiral Habibollah Sayyari (دریادار حبیب الله سیاری) (Commander of the Navy)
  • IRGC
    • Lieutenant General Mohammad Ali Jafari (Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC, in Persian: فرمانده کل سپاه پاسداران)
    • Major General Hossein Salami (Chief of the Joint Staff of the IRGC)[14]
    • Major General Mohammad-Reza Zahedi (Commander of IRGC Ground Force)[14]
    • Major General Amir Ali Hajizadeh (Commander of IRGC Air Force)[14]
    • Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari (Commander of IRGC Navy)[17]
    • Major General Qassem Soleimani (Commander of Quds Force)[18]
    • Major General Mohammad Reza Naghdi (Commander of Basij forces)[14]
  • Iranian Police
    • Major General Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moghaddam (Commander-in-Chief of the Police, in Persian: فرمانده کل نیروی انتظامی)


Military expenditures (% GDP)

Iran's 2007 defense budget was estimated to be $7.31 billion by London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.[19] This was $102 per capita, a lower figure than other Persian Gulf nations and lower as a percentage of gross national product than all other Persian Gulf states (2.6% of GDP in 2007). This makes Iran's ranking the 25th largest defense expenditure globally.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute the 2008 military expenditure was $9.174 billion, 2.7% of the GDP.[1]

Defense industry

The Iranian Air Force is equipped with a fleet of F-4 and F-14 aircraft provided by the United States before the Iranian Revolution. Iran also produces its own fighter jets, such as HESA Saeqeh.
Iran has 3 Russian-built Kilo class submarines patrolling the Persian Gulf. Iran is also producing its own submarines.[20]
Iranian made Zulfiqar tank

Under the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran's military industry was limited to assembly of foreign weapons. In the assembly lines that were put up by American firms, such as Bell, Litton and Northrop, Iranian workers put together a variety of helicopters, aircraft, guided missiles, electronic components and tanks.[21] In 1973 the Iran Electronics Industries (IEI) was established.[22] The company was set up in a first attempt to organize the assembly and repair of foreign-delivered weapons.[23] The Iranian Defense Industries Organization was the first to succeed in taking a step into what could be called a military industry by reverse engineering Soviet RPG-7, BM-21, and SAM-7 missiles in 1979.[23]

Nevertheless, most of Iran's weapons before the Islamic revolution were imported from the United States and Europe. Between 1971 and 1975, the Shah went on a buying spree, ordering $8 billion in weapons from the United States alone. This alarmed the United States Congress, which strengthened a 1968 law on arms exports in 1976 and renamed it the Arms Export Control Act. Still, the United States continued to sell large amounts of weapons to Iran until the 1979 Islamic Revolution.[24]

After the Islamic revolution, Iran found itself severely isolated and lacking technological expertise. Because of economic sanctions and a weapons embargo put on Iran by the United States, Iran was forced to rely on its domestic arms industry for weapons and spare parts since there were very few countries willing to do business with Iran.[25]

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards were put in charge of creating what is today known as the Iranian military industry. Under their command Iran's military industry was enormously expanded, and with the Ministry of Defense pouring investment into the missile industry, Iran soon accumulated a vast arsenal of missiles.[21] Since 1992, it also has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, radar systems, guided missiles, submarines, military vessels and fighter planes.[26][27]

In recent years, official announcements have highlighted the development of weapons such as the Fajr-3 (MIRV), Hoot, Kowsar, Fateh-110, Shahab-3 missile systems and a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles, at least one of which Israel claims has been used to spy on its territory.[28] In 2006, an Iranian UAV acquired and allegedly tracked the American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for 25 minutes without being detected before returning safely to its base.[29]

Ballistic program

On November 2, 2006, Iran fired unarmed missiles to begin 10 days of military simulations. Iranian state television reported "dozens of missiles were fired including Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles. The missiles had ranges from 300 km to up to 2,000 km. Iranian experts have made some changes to Shahab-3 missiles installing cluster warheads in them with the capacity to carry 1,400 bombs." These launches come after some United States-led military exercises in the Persian Gulf on October 30, 2006, meant to train for blocking the transport of weapons of mass destruction.[30] Iran is also believed to have started the development of an ICBM/IRBM missile project, known as Ghadr-110 with a range of 3000 km; the program is paralleled with advancement of a satellite launcher named IRIS.

Weapons of mass destruction

Iran ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Iranian troops and civilians suffered tens of thousands of casualties from Iraqi chemical weapons provided by western countries during the 1980-88 Iran–Iraq War. As a result, Iran has publicly stood against the use of chemical weapons, making numerous vitriolic comments against Iraq's use of such weapons in international forums.

Even today, more than eighteen years after the end of the Iran–Iraq War, about 30,000 Iranians are still suffering and dying from the effects of chemical weapons employed by Iraq during the war. The need to manage the treatment of such a large number of casualties has placed Iran’s medical specialists in the forefront of the development of effective treatment regimes for chemical weapons victims, and particularly for those suffering from exposure to mustard gas.[31]

Iran ratified the Biological weapons Convention in 1973.[32] Iran has advanced biological and genetic engineering research programs supporting an industry that produces vaccines for both domestic use and export.[33]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "SIPRI Publications". Retrieved 15 January 2011.  Select "Iran" and click "Submit"
  2. ^ Townsend, Mark (April 20, 2008). "British dealers supply arms to Iran". The Guardian (London). 
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c IISS Military Balance 2006, Routledge for the IISS, London, 2006, p.187
  6. ^
  7. ^ IISS Military Balance 2008, p.244
  8. ^, [2]
  9. ^ Iran Favors Asymmetric Strategy In Joust With US
  10. ^ a b Cole, Juan (2009-10-02). "The top ten things you didn't know about Iran: The assumptions most Americans hold about Iran and its policies are wrong". Salon. 
  11. ^ "Russian Military Alliance With Iran Improbable Due To Diverging Interests". RFE/RL. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ a b c d e [5]
  15. ^ [6]
  16. ^ "Government creates 4th military arm: Air Defense". Iran Times International. February 20, 2009. [dead link]
  17. ^ Iran to hold large-scale naval war games
  18. ^ Iran Revolutionary Guards expect key changes in high command
  19. ^ Cordesman: Conventional Armed Forces in the Gulf authored by Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Dar Al Hayat
  22. ^ [7]
  23. ^ a b NTI: Country Overviews: Iran: Missile Chronology
  24. ^ A Code of Conduct for Weapons Sales Video Transcript
  25. ^ Procurement: November 3, 2004
  26. ^ - Iran Launches Production of Stealth Sub
  27. ^ PressTv: Advanced attack chopper joins Iran fleet Retrieved May 24, 2009
  28. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation, Hezbollah drone flies over Israel, 7 December 2004
  29. ^ Iranian drone plane buzzes U.S. aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf, May 30, 2006 and Iran Uses UAV To Watch US Aircraft Carrier On Gulf Patrol
  30. ^ Iran fires unarmed missiles at the Wayback Machine (archived November 7, 2006)
  31. ^ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
  32. ^ Signatories of the Biological Weapons Convention
  33. ^ "Razi Institute produces dlrs 100 m worth of vaccines, serums a year". Retrieved 2006-04-22. 

Further reading

  • PDF(French) Alain Rodier, The Iranian Menace, French Centre for Research on Intelligence, January 2007 - Order of Battle, stratégy, asymmetric warfare, intelligence services, state terrorism. Includes detailed order of battle for both regular army and Revolutionary Guard
  • Anthony H. Cordesman, Iran's Military Forces in Transition: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, ISBN 0-275-96529-5
  • 'Iranian exercise reveals flaws in air defences,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 December 2009

External links

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