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Brainroom Facts: Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

The 125,000 strong Revolutionary Guard secures the revolutionary regime and provides training support to terrorist groups throughout the region and abroad.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or Pasdaran Inqilab, was formed following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in an effort to consolidate several paramilitary forces into a single force loyal to the new regime, and to counter the influence and power of the regular military.

The Pasdaran consists of ground, naval and aviation troops that parallel the structure of the regular military.

The Pasdaran currently numbers approximately 125,000 personnel, including 100,000 ground forces personnel, 20,000 naval personnel and 5,000 marines.

The Pasdaran ground and air forces are relatively mobile, operating from established military bases and at least five island bases in the Persian Gulf.

Land and air defense units are concentrated for the most part in and around Tehran and the military districts adjacent to the Iraqi border.

Coastal defense batteries equipped with Silkworm and Sunburn anti-ship missiles are located at several sites along the length of the Strait of Hormuz.

The Basij (also known as the Popular Mobilization Army) is under the operational control of the Pasdaran, as are a number of units drawn from 175 of Iran's ancient tribes and clans.

Basij forces number approximately 300,000, which can be expanded to 1 million during crises.

The Basij forces are organized into two regionally based commands comprising 741 light infantry battalions and 134 light infantry battalions of 300-350 personnel each, plus a number of local reserve battalions.

These battalions are supplemented by 2.2 million college students organized into reconnaissance and advance guard units.

Most Basijis are now given regular military training.

Volunteers range from 14 to 70 years of age and are usually only lightly armed.

At full strength, Pasdaran has the following structure:

- 13 regional commands

- 2 armored divisions

- 5 mechanized divisions

- 10 infantry divisions

- 1 special forces division

There are 15-20 independent brigades that include:

- special forces brigades

- infantry brigades

- armored brigades

- parachute brigades

- 6 artillery groups

- 5 artillery/surface-to-surface missile groups

- border defense brigades

- aircraft units

- independent infantry groups

- 1 marine brigade

Sources: Global Security, Military Periscope