Islamic Republic of Iran Army
The Islamic Republic of Iran Army In Iran, it is also called Artesh, which is Persian for "army." As of 2006, the regular Iranian Army was estimated to have 350,000 personnel , according to the CSIS. Conscripts serve for 18 months and have limited military training.
Iran has two parallel land forces with some integration at the command level: the regular Artesh (Army), and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution also known as Pasdaran (IRGC).
A national army of sorts has existed in Iran since the establishment of the Persian Empire. National armies usually appeared throughout the country's points of strength, while in times of weakness mercenaries and conscript armies were recruited temporarily from fiefdoms. The original core of full time troops and imperial body guards were called the Immortals, these were established in 580BC by Cyrus the Great. These were replaced by the Junishapur Shahanshah (King of Kings) in the Sassanid Dynasty after a period of disunity and chaos in the country. Following the Arab invasion of Iran and eventual resurgence of Iranian dynasties a new full time army was formed by the name of Qezelbash in the Safavid Dynasty. The Qajar period saw several attempts to re-model the traditional Iranian military based on western models. These were met with limited success at the time.
Training over the centuries has varied wildly, however until the Qajar era it was common to see many train for combat in Zurkhaneh ''''.
The pre-revolutionary (Pahlavi) period
Following the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925 the new Imperial Iranian Army became a priority. Dramatic reforms brought in a host of western advisors and over the course of the next 50 years the army was to become the worlds 5th strongest by 1979. Throughout the 1970s the Imperial Iranian Ground Forces, as they were then known, underwent a rapid transformation and increase in strength.
In 1979 the Army was a largely mechanized and armored force of about 285,000 troops; Organized in 3 corps, with headquarters in Tehran area, in Shiraz in the south, and in Kermanshah near the Iraq border. There were additional plans for a fourth corps to be established at the Chah Bahar complex at the eastern end of the Persian Gulf.
Its major ground formations included the following:
Three armored divisions (plus one more in organization in Sistan Baluchestan): each with six tank battalions and five mechanized infantry battalions,
Three infantry divisions,
Two Iranian Imperial Guard Divisions and
Four independent brigades
Army Aviation Command with 200 plus helicopters.
These combat units, backed up by the usual complement of support units, were said to be 85 percent operational.
Immediately after the 1979 revolution a series of purges gutted the core of the Army's western trained senior commanders. This left it poorly prepared when Iraq invaded Iran in the advent of IranIraq War, a situation similar to that faced by the Soviet Union during the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa. A new cadre of commanders, shaped by their experiences in the war, drastically reduced reliance on foreign supplied equipment and training. Following the war the military pursued a dramatic restructuring, much of it under total secrecy. While still only a mere shadow of its pre-revolutionary self, the Artesh rapidy re-asserted its abilities and started to grow again.
In 1987, and on the verge of the end of the IranIraq War the Artesh was organized as follows:
Three mechanized divisions,
*Each of which composed of three armored and six mechanized battalions organized into three brigades
Seven infantry divisions,
One Special Forces division composed of four brigades,
One airborne brigade,
One Air Support Command,
and some independent armored brigades including infantry and a "coastal force."
Force structure, order of battle, and unit identifications for Iranian forces differ greatly among sources. It is unclear which identifications are accurate. The evolution of Iranian units over time is somewhat opaque, and rather dated wartime designations are often published, sometimes confusing brigades with divisions. During the IranIraq War some brigades formed the nuclei of new divisions, and may have reverted to that status with the end of the war.
Jane's reported that the Army was commanded via three army level headquarters with 12 divisions.. The IISS reported in the Military Balance 2008 that there five Corps level regional headquarters, four armoured divisions with some independent brigades, six infantry divisions with some independent brigades, one special forces brigade, two commando divisions with some independent brigades, plus an airborne brigade. There were also six artillery groups, and aviation forces. The number of divisions reported has not changed for some years. Often reported formations include the 23rd Special Forces Division, established in 1993-1994, and the 55th Paratroop Division. One source reports that the 23rd Special Forces Division is amongst the most professional units in the Iranian Army, with 5,000 regulars soldiers and strictly no conscripts.
The regular armoured divisions, including the 92nd Armored Division, are sub-divided into three brigades.
The regular army also has a number of independent brigades and groups, though there is almost no reliable data on the size and number of these smaller independent formations. These include one logistics brigade, an infantry brigade, an airborne brigade, special forces (Takavar) brigades, and five artillery brigades/regiments. There are also coastal defense units, a growing number of air defense groups, between four and six army aviation units, and a growing number of logistics and supply formations.
There are a variety of other reports of doubtful veracity. Some sources claim that small light formations in the regular army include an Airmobile Forces Group created after the IranIraq War. This formation is said to include the 29th Special Forces Division, which was formed in 1993-1994, and the 55th Paratroop Division. Other sources claim that the commando forces of the regular army and IRGC are integrated into a Corps of about 30,000 soldiers, with integrated helicopter lift and air assault capabilities. These airborne and special forces troops are said to train together at Shiraz.
The main battle tank of Iran is the Zulfiqar MBT, named after a legendary sword. Born as the brainchild of Brigadier General Mir-Younes Masoumzadeh, deputy ground force commander for research and self-sufficiency of the armed forces, the Iranian Zulfiqar [Zolfaghar] main battle tank is developed from major components of the American M-48 tank. One of the features of the Zulfiqar tank which has drawn the attention of the Defense Ministry is that indigenously-made parts have been used in it. The testing prototypes of the tank were tested in 1993. Six semi-industrial prototypes of the tank were produced and tested in 1997. The IISS estimates that over 100 Zulfiqar 1's are now in service. Zulfiqar-3, Iran's most modern tank is believed to have recently entered serial production. The T-72S is another main battle tank of the Iranian Army. Iran currently has 480 upgraded T-72S's in service.
The main attack helicopter of the Iranian Army is the AH-1 SuperCobra. The number of AH-1J's in service is unknown, but 202 AH-1J's were delivered before the Islamic Revolution. Iran also operates an unknown number of Panha 2091 which is an unlicensed, locally-made upgrade of AH-1J.
Iranian Army Order of Battle
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
Iranian military industry