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 (Persian: نيروی انتظامی جمهوری اسلامی ایران).
These forces total about 545,000 active personnel (not including the Police Force). 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.
Iran’s military was called the Middle East’s most powerful by General John Abizaid, Commander, 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.
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 gap the Iranian Air Force was established and the foundation for a new Navy was laid.
Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran in 1941 in order to secure the area from German interventions. 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.
With the Iranian revolution in 1979, deteriorating relations with the United States resulted in international sanctions led by the USA, including an arms embargo being imposed on Iran.
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. Simultaneously, the Iranian armed forces had to learn to maintain and keep operational, their large stocks of U.S.-built equipment and weaponry without outside help, due to American sanctions. Reaching back on equipment purchased from the U.S.A. in the 1970s, the Iranians began establishing their own armaments industry; their efforts in this remained largely unrecognised internationally, until recently. However, Iran was able to obtain limited amounts of American-made armaments, when it was able to buy American spare parts and weaponry for its armed forces, during the Iran-Contra affair. At first, deliveries came via Israel and later, from the USA.
The Iranian government established a five-year rearmament program in 1989 to replace worn-out weaponry from the Iran-Iraq war. Iran spent $10 billion between 1989 and 1992 on arms. Iran ordered weapons designed to prevent other naval vessels from accessing the sea, including submarines and long-range Soviet planes capable of attacking aircraft carriers.
A former military-associated police force, the Iranian Gendarmerie, was disbanded in 1990.
In 1991, the Iranian armed forces received a number of Iraqi aircraft fleeing from the Persian Gulf war of that year; most of which were incorporated into the Islamic Republic of Iran 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 boarding party from HMS Cornwall (F99)was seized in the waters between Iran and Iraq, in the Persian Gulf.
According to Juan Cole, Iran has never launched an “aggressive war” in modern history, and its leadership adheres to a doctrine of “no first strike”. The country’s military budget is the lowest per capita in the Persian Gulf region besides the UAE.
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.
Text from wikipedia