Monday, October 20, 2014

IRIN Naval Regions

With an increasing emphasis on power projection, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) is responsible for Iran's maritime security in the Caspian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and the greater Indian Ocean. The IRIN is organized into four or five naval regions, details about some of which are unclear. These administrative and/or operational divisions are believed to be largely equivalent to other services' 'regional headquarters'.



1st Naval Region – Bandar Abbas:
The 1st region, as well as the IRIN's general HQ, is co-located with the IRGCN in Bandar Abbas. As of 11/2013, it is commanded by Vice-Admiral (hereafter, BG2) Hossein Azad. [1]

2nd Naval Region – Bandar Bushehr or Bandar Jask:
Multiple sources refer to both sites as the IRIN's 2nd region. Facilities at Bushehr pre-date those at Jask and include much of the service's industrial capacity, while the facilities at Jask are more recent, less extensive and reflect the more recent operational shift towards the Indian Ocean.

As 10/2014, the Bushehr regon is commanded by BG2 Mohammed Reza Abbasian. [2] [3]

As of 10/2013, the Jask region – also known as the 'Velayat' region – is commanded by BG2 Gholamreza Shirani. [4] [5]

3rd Naval Region – Bandar Konarak:
As of 12/2013, the region is commanded by BG2 Shafii. [6]
The location of this site is sometimes referred to as Chahbahar, a larger city nearby.

4th Naval Region – Bandar Anzali:
As of 04/2014, the region is commanded by BG2 Afshin Rezai-Haddad. [7]

Independent Bases:
In addition to these regions, the IRIN began operating out of an an independent base in Pasabandar in October 2014, which is located at Iran's south-easternmost corner.[8]
Other independent bases are rumored to exist along the Gulf of Oman, but these cannot be confirmed at this time.

Training Centers: [9]
Imam Khomenei Naval Science and Technology College (Nowshahr)
Marine Training Center (Manjil)
Specialty Training Center (Rasht)
Task Training Center (Sirjan)

Appendix – Commander IMINT:
Known staff-level personnel include:
- Commander: BG Habibollah Sayyari
- Deputy Commander: BG2 Gholam-Reza Khadem Bigham [10]
- Deputy, Coordination: BG2 Jafari-Tehrani [11]
- Deputy, Operations: BG2 Siyavash Jareh [12]
- Deputy, Manpower: BG2 Mohammed Pourkalaher [13]
- Deputy, Engineering and Passive Defense: Hassan Jafari [14]
- Head of the Ideology/Politics Office: Mohammed Baqer Rooshandel [15]
- Head of Research and SS Jihad Organization: BG2 Ali Gholamzadeh [16]



Footnotes/Works Cited:
[1] News Meeting with the Commander of the IRIN's 1st Region. ISNA. 11/27/2013.
[2] Overhauled Lavan Warship, Combat Chopper Back into Operation. FNA English. 11/30/2013.
[3] "The War of the Bushehr Commandos in Khorramshahr" to be Released Soon. IQNA. 10/19/2014
[4] Commander of the 2nd Velayat Naval Region (Jask): The Sacred Defense Was the Fulfillment of God's Promise. IRNA. 09/27/2013.
[5] Each Year the IRIN Provides Assistance to Low Income People in this Area. IRNA. 04/28/2013
[6] Visit of the Commander of the IRIN's 3rd region with the Friday-Prayers Leader of Konarak During Navy Week. Konarak News. 12/02/2013.
[7] Commander: Iranian Navy's Best Destroyers Navigating in Caspian Sea. FNA English. 04/19/2014.
[8] NEDAJA Forces Deployed in Pasabandar. Mashregh News. 10/15/2014.
[9] NEDAJA front page & index.
[10] Societal Immunity to Cultural Invasion Are Among the Blessings of the Quran. NEDAJA.
[11] Iran [to] Host Conference on Naval Security in the Indian Ocean (IONS) in 2018. NEDAJA.
[12] Iranian Navy Warships Repel Pirate Attack on LPG Vessel. FNA English. 10/20/2013.
[13] Interview with BG2 Mohamed Pourkalaher, the IRIN's Manpower Deputy. Bazarekar.
[14] Launch of the Jask Airport by the IRIN. NEDAJA.
[15] New Head of the IRIN's Political-Ideology Office Appointed. FNA. 02/08/2014.
[16] News Meeting Held with Officials from the Army's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad. AJA. 09/23/2014.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Basij Organization - The Imam Ali Security Battalion

In the fourth part of 'Basij Organization' series, we look at the organization and role of the Imam Ali security battalions (IA bn).
The first part of this series covered the Imam Hussein battalions.
The second part covered Beit al-Moqdas battalions.
The third part took a look at Basij in Semnan province.

Imam Ali bn personnel, during a December 2013 exercise in Khuzestan


Index:
Origin
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Role
Organization (external)
Organization (internal)
Footnotes

Acronyms and Abbreviations:
bn - Battalion
BaM - Beit al-Moqdas [bn]
IA – Imam Ali [bn]
IH – Imam Hussein [bn]
IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

Origin:
The groundwork for the creation of the Imam Ali security battalion was laid in 2007 when Gen Ali Jafari was appointed to the position of IRGC commander in 2007. Jafari then initiated a well-known restructuring that included strengthening Basij response capabilities across a range of kinetic and non-kinetic domains, while also further integrating them within the IRGC command chain.

However, following the suppression of the the anti-government demonstrations that followed the 2009 presidential election, in large part by Basij forces, the IRGC sought to translate their 'lessons learned' into developments that could better enable them to respond to such anti-government protests in the future. In fact, according to comments made by Gen. Jafari in August 2014, the recruitment of IA bn personnel came directly from those who played an active role in suppressing the 2009 protests. [1]

Out of this reflection emerged the Imam Ali security battalions. The formation took approximately two years, with first battalions reportedly becoming operational in early/mid-2011. [2] [3]

Role:
As one might expect from a battalion formed in the aftermath of the 2009 protests, IA bns are oriented towards the suppression of mass demonstrations in urban areas. Descriptions of their role include the confrontation of “internal threats” [4] and “establishing urban security”. [5] They are largely equivalent to the police forces' Special Unit, which also conducts riot-control, though the Special Unit is smaller and more tactically versatile than IA bns.

Although they might otherwise be described as a riot control unit, officials note that their responsibility is not limited to dealing with physical confrontations. [6] Specifically, this means “confronting the enemy's soft threats”, which includes “economic, political, and social pressures”. [7] This means, to be blunt, the suppression of non-violent, civil protests.

Although this has negative connotations from a liberal point of reference, where it is viewed as further evidence of the IRGC's growing stranglehold over the Islamic Republic's last gasping institutions of democracy, it is an entirely legitimate response when viewed through the lens of the IRGC's 'soft war' narrative.

This narrative posits that since WWII the spectrum of warfare has been broadened by the West to encompass not just the traditional concept of kinetic war – which is labeled as 'hard war' – but also includes abstract concepts that fall far outside traditional security domains (aka securocratic wars). Specifically, it argues that social liberalization is a threat to the Revolutionary System equal to that of the Saddam's invasion, but instead of relying on tanks to topple the government, soft war relies on tactics that decrease the legitimacy of said government, ranging from human-rights promotion, to the sale of candy bars, to criticisms of the government's handling of the economy.

Although easy to dismiss as just another example of autocratic insecurity, like Qaddafi laying the blame for anti-government protests on the youths these days what with their LSD and their MDMA, Tehran's argument – at its most basic – is absolutely true. Social liberalization DOES pose an existential threat to the Revolutionary System, whose core pillar of legitimacy rests on a state of perpetual confrontation between the Global Oppressed (Iran), and the Global Oppressor (the West with a capital-'W'). Calling this Manichean narrative into question by entertaining a political posture that is anything less than total resistance against what is ostensibly an absolute evil, calls into question the very raison d'etre for the Revolutionary government.

Indeed, this perspective is actually firmly rooted in the historical record. It builds on established western theory when it comes to the concept of 'soft power', as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union, whose demise was due in large part to the attractive power of Western norms like human rights and the free exchange of people and ideas across borders. During the Cold War, promotion of these norms following the 1975 Helsinki Agreement helped galvanize domestic opposition across the Eastern Bloc, who called for greater freedoms and political rights, a process which eventually culminated in the collapse of post-WWII communist project.

Although numerous criticisms of this perspective can be made – the main one being that if Tehran's Revolutionary ideology is less attractive than liberal political and social norms, than perhaps it doesn't deserve to be defended in the first place – one cannot take the intellectually lazy approach and simply write it off as the product of an evil government. In fact, Tehran's narrative would find the distinction between peaceful and non-peaceful protests, and the distinction between civilian and soldier exactly as useful as the distinction between a tank and a fighter aircraft, they may operate in different domains, but both are legitimate combatants nonetheless.

Organization (external):
As with other Basij battalions, an accurate image of the total number of IA bns is unavailable. Because they are focused on urban security, a reasonable assumption is that they are concentrated near major urban areas, particularly Tehran given it's political importance and high-density.

In October 2011, it was reported that Gen. Jafari attended a ceremony with 31,000 Basij from IA bns in the Tehran area, though this reporting is likely inflated, or otherwise inaccurate given that a year later in September 2012, Jafari reported that “more than 100” IA battalions had been formed, ostensibly nationwide. [8] [9] This suggests that the personnel strength mentioned the year before likely corresponds to a national strength. Jafari also noted in his 2012 comment that 400 IH battalions had been created, hinting at a 1:4 ratio between IA and IH-type battalions. This provisional ratio is largely born out by the author's observation, which indicates that IA bns are deployed at a lower rate than other types.

Organization (internal):
Unlike other Basij battalions – such as the IH or BaM bns – an accurate image of IA bn strength cannot be provided at this point. The same is true of the bns subordinate units, including companies and platoons. It is a reasonable assumption is that it does not diverge too far from the pattern established in other battalions. That is, one should expect a strength of around 200 personnel, organized into three companies.

Battalion personnel are typically equipped with: protective vests, helmets and face-guards, circular or rectangular riot shields, batons, and paintball-guns (the latter likely firing pepper-spray projectiles).

IA bns make heavy use of motorcycles for urban mobility, recalling the ubiquitous imagery of the 2009 election protests. These are typically operated by teams of two, a vehicle operator and a dismount who carries a circular shield and baton. These are supplemented by a smaller number of lightly armored vehicles such as Land Cruisers.
Tactical employment of motorcycles by police in 2009
Armored Land Cruiser


Footnotes:
[1] The recent confrontation with the Fitna '88 formed the Imam Ali battalions. Jam-e Jam. 08/30/14.
[2] Imam Ali battalions active in the Semnan Province's IRGC. Moj News. 05/11/11.
[3] Two-day tactical practice exercise for Imam Ali security battalions held in in Darab. BP Fars. 10/05/13.
[4] ibid BP Fars, 10/05/13.
[5] ibid Moj News, 05/11/11.
[6] Our task is not only to deal with physical incidents. Etemaad Newspaper. 10/08/11
[7] ibid Moj News, 05/11/11.
[8] ibid Etemaad, 10/08/11
[9] Organization of more than 100 Imam Ali security battalions. PANA. 09/28/12.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[Translation] - Interview with Gen. Pourdastan on Iranian Assistance to Iraq and the 'Daesh' Threat

 In the following interview with the commander of Iran's Army Ground Forces - BG Pourdastan - he doesn't offer any groundbreaking revelations when it comes to Iran's security policy, but he does offer a handful of noteworthy comments.

First, he describes the existence of political-security red-lines "far from Iran's borders". This isn't a new trope in Tehran's lexicon, but is important in the continued recognition of the fundamentally trans-national nature of Iran's national-security. Whether it's Tehran's concerns in the Levant, or Moscow's desire for a glacis in eastern-Europe, or Washington's continued hegemony over the Caribbean Basin, national security is never just national.

Second, he couches the rise of ISIS within the same historical processes that account for Tehran's interpretation of the post-Soviet political scene, and the resulting 'future war' framework that encompasses the so-called soft, semi-hard, and hard forms of war. For documents related to this theoretical outlook, see the following rough translations:
What is Soft War, and Ways of Confronting It
Recognizing the Enemy and Paying Attention to the Leader's Guidance Keeps the County Safe Selected Writings on Modern War Theory
Will History Repeat Itself? [Iran's Characterization of the 1975 Helsinki Accords]
If one ignores those articles and only takes one thing away from this post, it should be that for Tehran, the threat from ISIS is the same as that from Twitter, or Facebook, or any of the other manifestations of calls for a more open society. The difference between the two is, to indulge in a bit of hyperbole, no more than the difference between an M1A2 Abrams, and an F-16; they simply operate in different domains.

This, tragically, is the legacy of Revolutionary ideology. A world view dominated by the Manichean struggle between the Global Arrogance and the Global Oppressed, cannot help but see every event in these terms. Like other post-colonial ideologies, Khomenei's Islamic Ideology remains bound by the same constructed power relationships it sought to overturn, building up an image of a skilled,  scheming, omniscient Washington unfettered by incompetence, coincidence, or above all, the agency of others.

Third, he describes Iran's military support for Iraq as training, noting that if Baghdad requests more, it would go through Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), before being implemented by the branches of the Armed Forces itself.

Fourth, he characterizes the Army Ground Forces' doctrinal theory of 'rapid reaction' in terms of two distinct threats; a transregional power (aka, NATO/the US), and regional proxy wars. This is consistent with the global embrace of 'rapid reaction' forces that has happened worldwide in line with the declining likelihood of conflict requiring the full-scale mobilization of a nation's industrial might, and the increasing demands placed on a national OODA-loop to quickly respond to, and deploy force against, security threats. In short, just like Russia's RRFs in Ukraine, the US's Stryker Brigades, or the UN's own RRF in Bosnia, Iran is seeking a lightweight force that can quickly be deployed to a theater for limited kinetic engagements short of full mobilization.

Fifth, he notes (in a paragraph that is omitted below) that the Zulfiqar tank has entered mass production.
As a Zulfiqar-enthusiast, let's just say that I'll believe that when I see it.

---

Title: Our Assistance to Iraq in the Struggle against ISIS is Training / Holding of Two National Exercises in the East and West of the Country / We are not Exposed to Transregional Threats
Date: September 28, 2014 / Mehr 6, 1393
Source: Tasnim News
Note: Following translation is approximate. While accuracy is estimated to be high, it's precision is not.

Stating that that Iran has assisted Iraq with training in the struggle against, the commander of the Army Ground Forces said: A big exercise in the southwest and another in the southeast, which are national-level maneuvers, will be held.

In an interview during Sacred Defense Week, Amir Pourdastan said about the defensive ability and readiness of our military to confront threats: The continued observation of threats is one of the tasks of the military's tasks, and the provide the necessary defensive capacity as they observe regional and trans-regional threats, and analyze their intelligence-personnel.

The commander emphasized: Our defense industry has very close communication with universities, and in addition to this, the military forces have innovative and creative individuals who can build arms and provide them to the military.

** Our red lines are very far from our borders / We now face the new methods used by threats
Pourdastan continued about the new threats and solutions in confronting them, saying: Today we face the new methods [being used by] these threats, threats which are different from those in the past, and as the arm of the Islamic Republic we must create and strengthen our capacity to confront them. One of these threats are the activities of Takfiri groups in Iraq, Syria, and around Iran. To confront these, we have created the necessary capacity in our self, and we are watching all the movement of these groups. We've determined that if these terrorist groups or Takfiris come close to crossing our red-lines, which are very far away from Iran's borders, a heavy blow will be dealt to them.

** Our assistance to Iraq in the struggle with ISIS has been training
The commander of the Army Ground Forces said about Iran's cooperation with the government of Iraq in the struggle against ISIS: Our main assistance to our brothers in Iraq has been training, and ... considering that the people of Iraq are under pressure every day, Iran has sent aid so that the pressure on them is reduced, however the primary assistance has been training, and if the government of Iraq requests military assistance from Iran, the AFGS will review this request and we will be implement it.

**ISIS is borne of America's Imagination, Thoughts, and Strategy in the Region
According to Pourdastan, the US-headed coalition that was formed against ISIS cannot be a solution against ISIS, because if we go back a bit,we see that ISIS was born by the same imperialist countries, meaning that ISIS is borne of America's imagination, thoughts, and strategy in the region.

And in response to a question about the reason for the historical formation of these Takfiri groups, he said: If I want to point out the history of these Takfiri groups, it is necessary to go back some time. This subject returns to matters related to the collapse of the of the USSR. After the collapse, America became the only superpower, and after several years one of the research institutes in America offered a theory stating that a new power was emerging, which would pose challenges if America could not confront it. [The institute said that] this power is the Islamic world, and comes from Shia-Sunni unity, which is [inspired] by the Islamic Revolution.

Pourdastan said: America conducted lot of analysis and ultimately arrived at the conclusion that they themselves must enter the Middle East and West Asia, however to do this they needed an excuse, the same excuse that Mossad and the CIA planned. After the events of 9/11, it was one of the puppet groups that gave this excuse to America, with which America resorted to in order to enter the region with the objective of confronting of the pole of power in the Islamic world. After the Islamic Awakening, they saw that the countries in the region had awoken.

** The Main Goal of America is Confronting Iran.
Pourdastan said: America's intention was confronting the Islamic Republic, however because of [the wise leadership of the Supreme Leader and the military's readiness], they headed towards Iraq and Afghanistan so that they could create a [regional development] and confront the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, America suffered from challenges caused by the high economic cost, their soldier's lack of motivation, national discontent, worldwide discontent, so that they changed their strategy and today have placed proxy-wars on their agenda, and now ISIS fights as an American proxy in the region and the objective of America is not to confront ISIS.

** The way to confront ISIS, is not with Tomahawk missiles / This is no way to confront ISIS
The commander of the Army Ground Forces said about the difficulties in confronting ISIS: The Takfiri-terrorist group ISIS is not a regular military force with positions that can be targeted by bombs or missiles. This group [uses] the strategy of hiding themselves among the people, and for this reason the way to confront these groups is not with Tomahawk missiles, and I [can firmly say] that until now, aerial bombing and missiles have only destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq and Syria, and ... is no counter to ISIS.

Pourdastan ...said: If America is honest in their words, and want to confront ISIS, they must confront the countries that send ISIS money and arms, that buy oil from them, and use their land to train new forces, and then send them to Syria and Iraq. However, now we see a sham movement under the supervision of America, the [ostensible purpose] of which is to confront ISIS, [but] it is certain that this movement will not take this path, and I do not think that ISIS will be weakened by it.

According to Pourdastan, the thing that would weaken and cripple ISIS is Shia-Sunni unity. When the Shia and Sunni authorities enter the field and give a fatwa, people [will] leave ISIS, [and then] Iraqi Army [can] take over. After this presence of [Shia and Sunni] religious authorities, we can have a role in stopping ISIS[.] [After] ISIS had come [as far as] Diyala, we now see that that [after an initial] retreat, the Iraqi Army has found a role [thanks to] the widespread popular support, and in the near future we will witness the destruction of ISIS in Iraq. I think that the Iraqi Army, thank god, has a very good capacity.

He said: It has good capability in terms of ground, air and helicopter[-warfare], is capable when confronting ISIS, and also enjoys popular support. However, if they request assistance from the Islamic Republic, it will be raised in the SNSC, and the military forces are prepared to provide any kind of assistance that is necessary.
...
** We have good rapid reaction forces at our disposal
And in reference to Iran's new strategy for confronting these terrorist threats, including the formation of rapid reaction forces, he said: We have increased the Army ground forces capabilities in two areas of asymmetric threats, including the area of confronting a trans-regional country, and another area of proxy wars and confronting terrorist groups, and we have good rapid reaction forces at our disposal, which can enter this field and in these areas utilize all the military capacity of the Islamic Republic, and we use a joint-plan with the IRGC which has been planned, practiced, organized, and implemented so in case this threat materializes, we have the experience to confront it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Northeast Regional Operations Headquarters

Index:

Acronyms and Abbreviations
Introduction 
Headquarters
Components
Appendix: Personnel Structure and Commander IMINT
Footnotes/Works Cited

Acronyms and Abbreviations:
AB: Armored Brigade
Army: Term of art that refers specifically to the 'Artesh' (aka. the regular-armed-forces). Distinct from 'Army' as a general reference either to a nation's ground forces, or armed forces in general
BG: Brigadier General
BG2: Brigadier General, 2nd-Class
CB: Commando Brigade
Col.: Colonel 
HQ: Headquarters 
IB: Infantry Brigade
IRIA: Islamic Republic of Iran Army (AKA, Army Ground Forces, or NEZAJA
IRIADF: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force (AKA, Khatam ol-Anbiya Headquarters)
IRIAF: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
MIB: Mechanized Infantry Brigade 
  

Introduction:
The third part in this series covers the Army's Northeast Operations Headquarters, which is based in Mashhad, and borders Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan. The first part in this series covers the Northwest Headquarters, and the second part covers the Western Headquarters.

The Northeast HQ is one of five other regional HQs created under the Army Ground Forces' (IRIA) 'Samen restructuring plan'. Operating on the assumption that they would face a simultaneous, multi-front attack that would preclude centralized strategic control of battles, the IRIA created these HQs to control operations and coordinate tactical actions within their respective theaters. By coordinating tactical actions at this level, the IRIA hopes to achieve their operational objective of regional integrity, which when taken as a whole comprises the national-level defense-in-depth strategy.

Their role is further described by the commander of the IRIA – BG Ahmed Reza Pourdastan – in a 2013 interview: 
“With the objective that units be completely self-sufficient and be able to confront threats independently, we created five regional headquarters in the northeast, southeast, southwest, west, and northwest, and we designed the structure and organization of these headquarters to be self-sufficient and not need outside equipment when confronting threats. These HQs have all of the structure and organization required for an independent and self-sufficient unit, [including] support, and transport units, as well as hospitals.”[1]

Headquarters:
The HQ itself is based in the city of Mashhad, and is currently commanded by BG2 Ali Jahanshahi, who was appointed to the position in November 2013. [2] [3] Its deputy commander is BG2 Hadi Pour-Esmail. [4] The HQ's area of responsibility covers the provinces of South Khorasan, Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, Golestan, Mazandaran, and Semnan. Moreover, as the top Army body in the region, the HQ is also responsible for other Army forces, including the Air Defense Force (IRIADF) and the Air Force (IRIAF). [5]
Enlarge for Full Size

Components:
Units subordinate to the headquarters include the now-independent brigades of the Army Ground Forces' 77th Mechanized, 30th Infantry, and 58th Commando Divisions, as well as the pre-existing 38th Armored Brigade, the newly formed 444th Engineering Group. Less is known about other Army units ostensibly under the HQ's authority, including the IRIADF's own regional operations, and the IRIAF's forward-air-station and tactical-fighter-base.

Enlarge for Full Size



- 77th 'Sa A'Pirouz Samen Alaeme' Mechanized Infantry Division Operations HQ (IRIA) [6]
     Location: Mashhad
     Cmdr: BG2 Reza Azriyan [7]
     Associated Units:

      177th Brigade
          Location: Torbat Heydariyeh
          Cmdr: Col. Abufazl Bozorgi [8]

      277th 'Shahid Tavalaee' Brigade
          Location: Quchan
          Cmdr: Col Gholamreza/Alireza Fakhrabad [9]

      377th 'Shahid Sarlashkar Parooz Hebroni' Brigade
          Location: Mashhad
          Cmdr: BG2 Masoud Tamizi [10]

- 30th Infantry Division (IRIA)
     Location: Gorgan
     Cmdr: Unknown
     Associated Units:

     130th 'Shahid Daljuyan' Infantry Brigade
          Location: Bojnourd
          Cmdr: Col. Alireza Sadeqi [11]

      230th 'Shahid Mataji' Infantry Brigade
          Location: Mazandaran and Golestan prov'n; Gorgan, Gonbad, Azadshahr, and Doab. [12]
          Cmdr: BG2 Hossein Mirtaqi [13]

     330th Brigade
          Location: Gorgan [14]
          Note: Little or no references to brigade.

- 58th 'Zulfiqar' Commando Division Operations HQ (IRIA)
     Location: Shahrud
     Cmdr: BG2 Majid Zareh  [15]
     Associated Units:

      158th 'Shahid Keshavarzian' Brigade
          Location: Shahrud
          Cmdr: Col. Mehdi Mehmarbashi [16]
 
      258th 'Shahid Pajuhandeh' Brigade
          Location: Shahrud
          Cmdr: Col. Abulqassem Karimi Hosseini [17]

- 38th Independent Armored Brigade (IRIA)     Location: Torbat Jam
     Cmdr: Col. Mohammed Suleimani [18]


- 444th Combat Engineering Group (IRIA)
     Location: Unknown
     Cmdr: Unknown

- Region 5 Logistics/Support (IRIA)
     Location: Mashhad
     Cmdr: BG2 Hossein Firouzyan [19]

- 5th Army-Aviation Combat Base (IRIAA)
     Cmdr: Col. Abdulreza Khodadadi [20]
     Includes 'Vali Asr' UAV group; no details.

- 'Imam Reza' Northeast Air Defense Region (IRIADF)
     Cmdr: BG2 Abdallah Rashad [21]

- Mashhad Forward Air Station (IRIAF)
     Location: Mashhad
     Cmdr: Unknown

- 12th 'Shahid Hosseini' Tactical Air Base (IRIAF)
     Location: Birjand
     Cmdr: Col. Hamid Moustafavi [22]

Appendix: Personnel Structure and Commander IMINT:
Enlarge for Full Size


Footnotes/Works Cited:
[1] Rapid Reaction, the Focus of Future Wars: Evaluation of NEZAJA rapid reaction Forces from the Sacred Defense to the Samen Plan. AJA. 02/25/2013
[2] Top Army Commander in the Northeast: The Sympathy of the Armed Forces was a Factor in the Success of Operation Samen Alaeme. IRNA. 09/27/2014
[3] [temporarily unavailable, as of 09/28/2014] Khorasan News01/08/2012.
[4] The Army is Holding Eight Programs in North Khorasan. MNA. 09/20/2014.
[5] The Activity of Transregional Countrys' Military Forces are in Full View of the Iranian Army. FNA. 01/20/2013
[6] Judo Championship Held by Units of the NEZAJA's North East Regional HQ. IRNA. 08/19/2013
[7] [news in brief; no title] Nasim Online. 11/05/2013.
[8] [Flowers Laid on the] Graves of Martyrs in Torbat Heydariyeh. Torbat-e Man. 09/25/2014
[9] The Army's Self-Confidence and Self-Sufficiency is the Causes Frustration in the Arrogance. FNA. 04/18/2014.
[10] Interview with Seven Honorable [Generals] of Iran. Khorasan/Sardabir. 04/17/2014.
[11] ibid MNA 09/20/2014
[12] Military Forces from the 230th Brigade to Hold Parades in Four Cities in Golestan and Mazandaran. MNA. 04/17/2014.
[13] The Power and Stability of the Army Ground Forces to be Displayed During Sacred Defense Week. IRNA. 08/25/2014
[14] [temporarily unavailable, as of 09/28/2014] Khorasan News. 05/07/2013
[15] The Warriors of the Sacred Defense Proved the Legitimacy of Islamic Iran to the World. IRNA. 09/22/2014
[16] The Capability of the Army Today Is Not [Concealed]. FNA. 04/18/2014
[17] The Main Role of the Army in the Protection of the Homeland / Model [Establishing During] the Sacred Defense is Fixing Problems. MNA. 04/17/2013.
[18] The Army Has Brought Honor and Pride to the Population. Jam-e Rooz. 04/18/2014
[19] ibid Khorasan/Sardabir, 04/17/2014
[20]  ibid Khorasan/Sardabir, 04/17/2014
[21] ibid Khorasan/Sardabir, 04/17/2014
[22] IRIAF Air Bases. The Arkenstone. 07/22/2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (IRIADF)

Index:
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Introduction and Overview
Primary Garrison
FFEP Deployment
Footnotes and Works Cited

Acronyms and Abbreviatons:
AAA: Anti-Aircraft Artillery
ADG: Air Defense Group
BG2: Brigadier General, Second Class
FFEP: Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant
HM [ADG]: Hazrat Masumeh [Air Defense Group]
IRIADF: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force; aka Khatem ol-Anbiya Air Defense HQ
Lt. Col. : Lieutenant Colonel
SAM: Surface-to-Air Missile
UGF: Underground Facility
Lt. Col. Abarshi

Introduction and Overview:
The IRIADF's Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (HM ADG) was formed in 2009 to protect the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP). It's current commander is Lt. Col. Hossein Abarshi. [1] Based on it's location near Qom, the HM ADG should be subordinate to the Central Air Defense Region, under the command of BG2 Abazar Jookar. [2]



Primary Garrison:
The Group's primary garrison is located along the Qom-Tehran Freeway, in-between the the FFEP and the military depot to the west.

Construction began between 09/2009 and 03/2011, which is consistent with the group's reported creation date. As of the most recent imagery – 03/2013 – only a handful of buildings had been completed, and much of the available space remains undeveloped.

As least some of the group's equipment can be seen from 01/2012 onward, including AAA and equipment containers. Between 01/2012 and 08/2012, construction began on a UGF dug into the hillside to the north of the garrison.


FFEP Deployment:
Much of the group is deployed to the FFEP itself, where a small garrison for the site's security can be found alongside a separate facility for FFEP personnel. The two can be distinguished by the former's parade-yard, obstacle-course, and proximity to nearby firing-ranges and munition-storage shelters. This garrison pre-dates the HM ADG's formation, and is documented as far back as 06/2004.

The creation of the HM ADG in 2009 can be observed in the deployment of increasing levels of air-defense in the following years. Deployments are focused in a northward-facing arc, thanks to the passive defense provided by the range of hills running east-west, into whose north-face the FFEP is dug.

As of late-2009, no air-defense assets are visible. By 2011, several sites had been established, including:

1) Short/medium-range SAM Battery, most likely the MIM-23 HAWK. The battery is only visible at full-strength in 03/2011, with one of the firing-sections having displaced by the year's end. Four Zu-23-2s were deployed nearby.

2) Four 35 mm GDF-001/002s. Two of these were deployed in individual emplacements, while the other two were part of a Skyguard emplacement.

3) Four-gun AAA battery, organized into two firing sections. The type of gun is unknown, though the 100 mm KS-19 is a possibility. Orientation is toward the north-west.

At this time, the sites are characterized by ongoing construction, and field-expedient infrastructure. Revetments are bulldozed earth, roads are unpaved, and earth-moving equipment can be seen at work.



By the end of 2012, the sites showed increasing signs of permanency, though the overall strength was only mildly increased. This includes:

1) SAM firing-section. Though the original site is largely unchanged, except for the removal of AAA, construction had begun on a more permanent site further west with raised concrete pads reminiscent of Iran's other HAWK sites.

2) Two of the individually emplaced GDFs were relocated to permanent sites around the perimeter; a third GDF supplemented these. Meanwhile, the original Skyguard site had been vacated, and replaced with a four-gun battery of Zu-23-2s.

3) The northwest-oriented AAA battery remained, and had been further developed with raised concrete pads and crew facilities.

4) Further east, an early-warning radar – likely the Matla ul-Fajr, judging from antenna shadow and container type – had been deployed in a non-permanent site.

5) By the end of 2012, construction had begun on a permanent Skyguard site just south of the EW-radar.




Little change was evident by mid-2013, the date of the most recent imagery. Both the Skyguard and SAM sites remained under construction, while the existing sites underwent only minor changes. However, a handful of equipment was now parked in the open, including two GDFs near the EW-radar, and at least two GDFs and 11 Zu-23-2s in a motor-pool near the primary facility.



Footnotes / Works Cited:
[1] Commander of the Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Base Visits with Qom's Friday Prayers Leader. Defa Press. 08/31/14.
[2] Iran's Air Defense Operations Center. Persian_boy. Youtube. 09/01/14.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Iran's Armed Force's General Staff


AFGS emblem (MrInfo2012)

Acronyms and Abbreviations:
AFGS: Armed Forces General Staff
BG2: Brigadier General, 2nd-Class
BG: Brigadier General
CoS: Chief-of-Staff
HQ: Headquarters
IRGC: Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
LEF: Law Enforcement Forces
MG: Major General
MIA/KIA: Missing-in-action/killed-in-action
SNSC: Supreme National Security Council



 Background and Role:
The Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) was created in the summer of 1988, during the last days of the Iran-Iraq War, to coordinate and deconflict IRGC and Army activities by the creating a unified chain of command. [1] Just as importantly, this also helped integrate the IRGC into the formal security establishment, decreasing their institutional autonomy, and thus their ability to threaten the political balancing act during the critical transition of power that came with Khomeini's death. [2]

Within the formal hierarchy, the AFGS is subordinate to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), and controls the activities of both the IRGC and Army. [3]

The AFGS loosely follows the western staff template, though its exact composition and structure is unknown. This is due, in part, to uncertainty over the administrative size or 'level' of various staff bodies such as departments, organizations, and directorates. This has been exacerbated since several of these bodies were abolished, split, or folded into others. This is especially true of the operations and intelligence sections. These not only have an important formal responsibilities, but have also been previously associated with key figures in informal influence-networks such as MG Bagheri (intelligence and operations deputy) and BG Mehrabi (intelligence deputy).[4]

Structure:
Enlarge to view full-size
Chief of the General Staff :
AFGS Chief, MG Firouzabadi
This positions is held by MG Hassan Firouzabadi (IRGC), who has headed the AFGS since he was appointed to the position by Khamenei 1989. [5]

Firouzabadi has been characterized as a close confidante of the Supreme Leader since before the Revolution, and this relationship constitutes a key element of Khamenei's informal authority.

According to a report by the AEI's Will Fulton, Firouzabadi first met Khameni in the 1970s where they coordinated ideological and operational opposition to the government. During the 1980s, Firouzabadi served in the civilian government, including as PM Mir-Hossein Mousavi's defense deputy. According to the author: “This relationship may help explain why Khamenei appointed Firouzabadi and retained him in this position since 1989, even though Firouzabadi does not have a formal military background.” [6]


Deputy Chief of the General Staff:
Deputy AFGS Chief, MG Rashid
This position has been held by MG Gholam Ali Rashid (IRGC) since 1999 when he was promoted from his position as the AFGS's Intelligence and Operations Deputy. [7] [8] He was a commander during the Iran-Iraq War and is assessed to have a close personal relationship with core IRGC personnel. [9]

In traditional staff organizations, the deputy chief does not directly command the staff, but functions as an extension of the chief's authority, and is assigned specific duties as needed. [10]

Coordination Deputy:
Coordination Deputy, MG Saadi
This position has been held by MG Hassan Saadi (Army) since his appointment in 1999.[11] [12] Previously, he commanded the Army Ground Forces 1986-1991. [13] Despite his key position, he is relatively unknown, and has refrained from making political statements. At least one source characterizes him as a professional, and non-political officer. [14]

This position of coordination deputy is equivalent to the chief-of-staff, or executive-officer, in a traditional staff organization. The CoS is a key position, forming the primary point of contact between the the chief (Firouzabadi) and the rest of his staff. The CoS coordinates other staff members, directing their activities, collects information from them and turns it into an actionable battlefield picture that the chief can make decisions based upon. [15] It is possible that Saadi's reputation for professionalism is critical to this responsibility, offsetting Firouzabadi's lack of direct military experience, and the politics of other officers.

Headquarters and Joint Affairs Deputy:
HQ and Joint Affairs Deputy, MG Bagheri
The position is held by MG Mohammed Bagheri. Prior to this, he held the position of Intelligence and Operations Deputy through – at least – 2011. [16]

This position corresponds to the personnel section of traditional staff organizations, and subordinate bodies include human resources and manpower directorates, which are responsible for manning units and personnel support, potentially making it an important position when it comes to promotions.[17]








Manpower Deputy:
Manpower Deputy, BG Bagheri
Subordinate to the HQ and Joint Affairs Deputy, this position is held by BG Mohammed-Hassan Bagheri (Army), who – confusingly – bears virtually the same name as his superior. Prior to this, BG Bagheri was the coordination deputy for the Army Ground Forces through – at least – 2009.


Operations Deputy:
This position is held by BG Mostafa Salami (Army). [18] Prior to this, Salami held a number of staff-level positions in short succession, including intelligence deputy (2013), and second-in-command to the then-operations deputy (2012). [19] [20] Little is known about him beyond this.

Operations Deputy, BG Salami
The role of the operations deputy is muddled by the parallel existence of the 'head of the operations directorate', currently held by the influential and well-linked BG Shadmani (see below). It is also muddled by the existence of the 'operations and intelligence directorate', which the mentioned components and personnel may be subordinate to, or otherwise inclusive/included of.

In a conventional staff organization, the operations deputy is generally considered the third-most important official (after the chief, and the chief-of-staff). Peacetime and combat responsibilities include coordinating operational orders and planning, materiel allocation, as well as force development and modernization. [21] In short, this constitutes the minutia of 'operational art' that links tactics with strategy.

Operations Directorate Head, BG Shadmani
Head of the Operations Directorate:
This position is held by BG Ali Shadmani (IRGC).[22] The position's relationship to the operations deputy (described above) is unknown. Shadmani himself is characterized as having links to core IRGC commanders. [23]


Chief of Intelligence Organization:
This position is held by an unknown person appointed in 06/2014. [24]

Like the operations section, much about this body, including it's relationship with the rest of the AFGS, is muddled. The position of 'chief' is generally higher than that of 'deputy'. Likewise, 'organization' is generally higher than a 'directorate' (which are either associated with a 'deputy' or a 'head'), suggesting that the intelligence body is one of the largest in the AFGS. For example, a comparable case may be the IRGC-GS's own intelligence organization, which was upgraded from a directorate, and in the process, saw the position of deputy superseded. [25]

Strategy Deputy:
Strategy Deputy, MG Izadi
As of 09/2013, this position is held by MG Mostafa Izadi. [26] MG Izadi is another core IRGC commander with close ties to the Supreme Leader and other senior IRGC personnel. [27] [28]

This position has been characterized as equivalent to the strategic-planning division of traditional staff systems, which handles civil-military coordination and relations. [29]

Planning and Programs Deputy:
No recent information. The last documented deputy was BG Saleh (IRGC), who was appointed in 2010.[30]

Given that the responsibility for planning and programs traditionally falls to either the operations or strategy sections, it is possible that this position is subordinate to either of these bodies.

Inspections Deputy:
Inspections Deputy, BG Ashtiani
This position is held by BG Mohammed-Reza Qarayi-Ashtiani (Army). [31] Prior to his appointment in 2013, he served as the Deputy Commander of the Army. [32]

Subordinate positions include the Head of Special Inspections, which – as of 02/2014 – was held by BG2 Mohammed Ruyanian (LEF). [33] However, only a month later he was arrested in conjunction with the Babak-Zanjani-Scandal, and was released soon after. His current status is unknown.



Basij Affairs and Defensive Culture Deputy:
Basij Affairs Deputy, BG Jazayeri
This position is currently held by BG Masoud Jazayeri (IRGC). [34] This position allows Jazayeri to function as the spokesperson for the AFGS.

This position was created in 2012 to coordinate cyber-space activity, passive-defense, Basij affairs, and other military-related culture. [35] [36]



Chief of Engineering and Passive Defense Organization:
This position is subordinate to the Basij Affairs and Defensive Culture Deputy, and is currently held by BG Gholam-Reza Jalali (IRGC). [37]

This body was upgraded from a directorate to an organization in 2008. However, given that it is supordinate to the above-mentioned depuy, would indicate that the position of 'chief' is not necessarily less than that of 'deputy', further muddling the picture of other bodies such as the operations/intelligence sections. [38]


Basij Deputy, BG Salehi
Basij Deputy:
This position is currently held by BG Hossein Salehi (IRGC). [39] It's responsabilities and relationship to the Basij Affairs Deputy is unknown.









Readiness Deputy, BG Abdollahi
Readiness, Logistics and Industrial Research Deputy:
This position is currently held by BG Ali Abdollahi (IRGC), who was recently appointed in 07/2014. [40] Previously, he served as the security deputy for the interior ministry, and held senior command positions in the security forces and the IRGC Ground Forces. His predecessor is the well-known BG Mohammad Hejazi. [41]




Head of Training and Education Directorate:
Training Deputy, BG2 Raisiyan
This position is held by BG2 Ramazan Raisiyan (Army). [42] Responsibility for training often falls under that of the operations section, indicating that this directorate might be subordinate to whatever level ultimately has responsibility for 'operations'.

The same uncertainties mentioned above about the relative size and relationship between directorates, organizations, and other levels applies here as well.




Cmdr, search-for-missing comittee,
BG Baqer-Zadeh

Commander of the Committee for the Search for the Missing:
This position is currently held by BG Baqer-Zadeh (IRGC) (08/2014). [43] The use of the title 'commander' is extremely atypical at this level. This committee's responsibility likely covers MIA/KIA-retrieval.





Footnotes / Works Cited:
[1] Familiarization with the Military's General Staff. YJC. 05/28/12
[2] Iran's Security Policy in the Post-Revolutionary Era. RAND. 2001. Ch. 4
[3] The Rise of the Pasdaran. RAND. 2009. p.33
[4] The IRGC Command Network: Formal Structures and Informal Influence. AEI. 2013
[5] ibid YJC, 2012
[6] ibid AEI, 2013. p. 8
[7] Ceremony for Late-Philanthropist Held in Tehran. FNA. 06/18/14
[8] ibid AEI, 2013. p.41
[9] ibid AEI, 2013. 
[10] Staff Organization and Operations FM101-5. Dep't of the Army. 1997. p.4-1
[11] ibid FNA 06/18/14
[12] Appointment of Several to the AFGS. Leader.ir. 08/17/97
[13] Hossein Hassan Saadi. Persian Wiki
[14] The Islamic Republic's 13 Generals. Iran Briefing. 02/03/11.
[15] ibid FM101-5, 1997. p.4-2
[16] Intelligence and Operations Deputy to National Security Committee. Tabnak. 11/27/11
[17] ibid FM101-5, 1997. p.4-10
[18] ibid FNA 06/18/14
[19] Salami: National Production Has Always Been on the Agenda of the Military. Mashregh News. 04/10/12
[20] Appreciation from Firouzabadi to Commanders. FNA. 10/29/13.
[21] ibid FM101-5, 1997. p.4-12
[22] Liberation of Khorramshahr Was the Turning Point in the War. FNA. 05/24/14
[23] ibid AEI, 2013. p. 26
[24] Americans Want Someone to Confront Iran. FNA. 06/10/14.
[25] ibid AEI, 2013. p.35
[26] AFGS Deputy: Necessary to Increase the VeF. IRNA. 09/01/13
[27] Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Messaging on Critcial US National Security Issues. AEI. 04/02/13.
[28] ibid AEI, 2013
[29] ibid FM101-5, 1997. p.4-15
[30] Sardar Saleh Became the AFGS Deputy for Programs and Planning. FNA. 06/30/10
[31] Amir Qarayai Ashtiani Became the AFGS Deputy for Inspections. FNA. 11/19/13.
[32] The Iranian Army is Among the Best Trained and Most Elite in the World. icors.blogfa. 03/07/10\
[33] Ruyanian's General Staff Uniform. Mashregh News. 02/03/14.
[34] The War-Readiness of Gaza Will Destroy the Occupation. DEFA Press. 08/24/14.
[35] ibid AEI, 04/02/2013
[36] ibid AEI, 2013. p.34
[37] Part of the Success of the Military is due to the Effort of Journalistis. DEFA Press. 08/07/14.
[38] ibid AEI, 2013. p.34
[39] [unclear]. Basij. News. 09/03/14
[40] Sardar Ali Abdollahi Became the AFGS Deputy for Readiness, Logistics, and Industrial Research. FNA. 06/22/14.
[41] FM: Iran Supporting Iraqi Nation in Campaign Against Terrorism. FNA-E. 01/14/14.
[42] Basij Thought Will be Established in the Population. FNA. 02/27/14.
[43] Baqer-Zadeh's Proposal to Kuwait. ISNA. 08/26/14.