Monday, January 19, 2015

Army Aviation Airbases

Iran's Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA) includes a substantial rotary-wing aviation component commonly known as the Havanirooz. The hundreds of Bell helicopters purchased during the 70s and the facilities built to operate and maintain them still form the backbone of the service. Today, they are tasked with supporting the NEZAJA's corp-level headquarters with attack and air-transport capabilities (the latter including airborne assault, and logistics).

The Havanirooz falls under the authority of the NEZAJA's central command. (1) However, it is assessed with high confidence that their constituent elements are also operationally subordinate to the NEZAJA's regional headquarters.

The force's current commander is BG2 Houshang Yari, who has held this position since September 2011. (2) Prior to his appointment, he was the force's deputy commander. (3) The staff headquarters is located in Tehran, within the NEZAJA HQ.

Below this, the Havanirooz's staff-level organization is unclear. Unlike the Army's and IRGC's distinct branches, whose staff is relatively predictable (e.g. operations, personnel, etc), very little in the way of open source reporting exists for Army Aviation. The one exception to this is the force's Research and Self-Sufficiency body, which is alternately described as a “department” (4), or an “office” (a level below “department”). (5) At any rate, reporting on this body is scant.

Under the Havanirooz's staff are upwards of nine bases of varying size. The largest of these are sometimes referred to in English reports as combat or support 'groups'. Generally, 'group' is used by the NEZAJA to refer to a brigade-sized combat support unit, such as – for instance – the 33rd Artillery Group. Although this term is almost never used in reference to the Havanirooz today, they are consistently used to describe the same bases during the war, suggesting that the concept of equating each base to an aviation brigade remains sound.

Aviation Bases:

1st Combat Airbase (Kermanshah):
This group is commanded by BG2 Yusef Qorbani, who has held this position since at least June 2010 when he was still a Col. (6) (7) As of December 2012, the base's deputy commander was Ali Heydar Zaraei. (8)

This base is co-located with the Kermanshah Airport.

2nd 'Shahid Asayee' Combat Airbase (Masjed-e Suleiman):
This group is commanded by Col. Heshmataollah Azadifar, who was appointed in November 2014. (9) Previously, he was the base's deputy commander.

3rd Combat Airbase (Kerman):
This group is commanded by Col. Gaeini, who was appointed in December 2011. (10) Previously, he was the base's deputy commander since ~2005/2006.(11)

This base is co-located with the Kerman Airport.

A contingent from this group is deployed from to an unnamed base in Zahedan to support internal security operations in the south-east region. This base is co-located with the Zahedan airport.

4th Combat and Support Base (Isfahan):
This group is commanded by BG2 Nurbakhesh Bagheri, who was appointed in November 2011. (12) (13) Previously, he served as the commander of the Havanirooz's nearby training center at Shahid Vatanpour Airbase.

This base has been described as the Havanirooz's largest and most important base. It is co-located with the IRGC's Badr Airbase.

5th Combat Airbase (Mashhad):
This group is commanded by Col. Abdulreza Khodadi. (14) Along with the Tabriz airbase, it is one of the Havanirooz's smaller combat bases.

The base is co-located with the Mashhad airport.

6th Combat Airbase (Tabriz):
This group is commanded by Col. Maqsoudi. Along with the Mashhad airbase, it is one of the Havanirooz's smaller combat bases.

The base is adjacent to the Tabriz Airport.

Abyek Airbase (Abyek):
This airbase was formed when the Ghale Morghi base in Tehran was closed down around 2011, and some of it's personnel and equipment were transferred here. (15) Abyek is not a combat airbase.

This airbase is co-located with the Army's central equipment depot.

Mehrabad Airbase (Tehran):
When Ghale Morghi was closed, a number of fixed-wing aircraft were transferred to the Havanirooz's pre-existing facilities co-located with Mehrabad Airport. (16)

Training Centers:

Shahid Vatanpour Airbase (Isfahan):
The forces primary training center, this base is currently commanded by Col. Mojtabi Rouhani, who was appointed in May 2014. (17)


Ya Ali Industrial Center (Isfahan):
Subordinate to the Havanirooz's Self-Sufficincy Jihad, the exact location is unknown. It is possible that it is co-located with the HESA facilities in Shahin Shahr.

The Havanirooz are closely affiliated with, but organizationally distinct from, the Iranian Helicopter Repair and Support Company (PANHA), which falls under the authority of the Iranian Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO).

PANHA is responsible for depot-level repair and maintenance.

It's current head is BG2 Mohammed-Ali Ahmed-Abadi. (18)


Hazrat Vali Asr UAV Group:
Responsible for operating the Havanirooz's UAVs, little is known about the organization of this group. Its location, if it is centrally located at all, is unknown. It's current commander is Col. Reza Khaki.

For further reading, see Adam Rawnsley's recent piece on them. (19)

1) Translation - Iranian Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA) Organization Charts. The Arkenstone. 02/26/2014.
2) New Havanirooz Commander Appointed. Mashregh News. 09/12/2011.
3) Havanirooz Commander: The Role of the Havanirooz in the Sacred Defense Epic. AJA. Date Unknown.
4) All Havanirooz Bases Equipped with Simulators. FNA. 09/21/2011.
5) News Meeting Held with Army Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Officials. AJA. 09/23/2014
6) May 2014 exercise photography.
7) Reconstruction of 5 Helicopters by the Kermanshah Havanirooz, Havanirooz Commander: The Havanirooz is Always Ready to Protect the Water and Land. ISNA. 06/09/2010.
8) The Shahid Fahmideh Center for Innovation and Scientific Collaboration Opened in Kermanshah. ISNA. 12/05/12
9) [Change] in the Masjed-e Suleiman Havanirooz. cjmis. 11/26/14.
10) Commander of the Havanirooz Base in Kerman Appointed. FNA. 12/01/2011
11) Interview with the Commander of the Kerman Havanirooz Base. AJA. Date Unknown.
12) Emergency-Rescue Helicopters Dispatched to Eight Emergencies. EMS Zabol Blogfa. 11/23/2011.
13) Memories of the Imposed War According to the Commander of the Isfahan Havanirooz. Tasnim News. 04/18/2014.
14) Two Overhauled Helicopters Returned to the Havanirooz Fleet in Mashhad. IRNA. 06/22/2014.
15) The Havanirooz Has Today Reached a Stage of Development in Which They Don't Require Assistance from Any Country to Repair Helicopters. AJA. 06/08/2013.
16) What Aircraft are the Commanders Riding in? FNA. 10/15/2013.
17) Ceremony Held for the Introduction of Havanirooz's Training Center's Command. Shabestan. 05/26/2014
18) Three-Fold Increase in Helicopter Firepower / Work in America with Iranian Certificate / Delivery of 20 Helicopters during Sacred Defense Week. FNA. 09/06/2014
19) The Artesh Ground Forces Vali-e-Asr Drone Group (Updated). rawnsl notebook.01/06/2015.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Operation Beit al-Moqdas (1982) - An Institutional Perspective from Iran's Army Ground Forces (Working Copy)

This report is a brief look at one of the more important operations in the Iran-Iraq War. The purpose of this report is to illustrate some of the Army Ground Forces history, and the way it has shaped their development over the past three decades. It is loosely intended to precede a more thorough treatment of the current doctrine and structure.

"A year and a half after the Iran-Iraq War began in September 1980, Tehran launched Operation Beit al-Moqdas, the final operation in its campaign to expel the Iraqi Army from its territory. Today, the operation holds a special place in the national memory and in the official narrative that instrumentalizes the war's symbols. The operation has also shaped the world-view of the contemporary Iranian military. In particular, for the Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA), it has been used to help articulate their doctrine and reconcile their identity as a professional service within a Revolutionary system."
Google Docs Link (pdf)

This is a working copy.  Most everything is there, but near the end of the project I happened to come across Gen. Bakhtiari's exhaustive treatment of the operation, which I'm slowly working my way though. This text will likely answer many of the implicit and explicit unknowns that beset this report. At the very least, it would allow for a great deal more fleshing out. Indeed, the parts of it I have already read were exceedingly valuable.

...and yes, in case you're wondering, saying something is a "working copy" is just another way of saying "I don't feel like editing this anymore".

HT at ACIG Forums for providing  Gen. Bakhtiari's account of the war described above, and for general research assistance ("Tom" & "Gabriel Garrido").

Thursday, December 18, 2014

News Roundup - December 18

Title: Mousavi: Missile Tests and Fighting Terrorism in the Mohammed Rasoolallah Exercises / Sayyari: Foreigners Will Leave the Region / Esmaeli: All of the Region Under Observation / Heydari: The NEZAJA's Special UAV Tactics in the Exercises / Chitfaroush: Nine Types of NAHAJA Aircraft in Operation 
Date: December 18, 2014 / Azar 27, 1393
Source: FNA 
Summary: In a press conference, various commanders outlined the details of the coming Army exercise that will kick off on December 25 in the Indian Ocean.

The Army's Deputy Commander – Seyyed Abdulrahim Mousavi – said:
The big army exercise will be held from December 25 through 31, and different units from the Navy, Air Force, Ground Force, and Air Defense Force will participate. 
The scope of this exercise will be around 2 million sqkm, and on the last day a big parade will be held by surface and sub-surface units units. [The exercise will cover] 10 degrees from the Indian Ocean to east of the Hormuz Strait and the Makran Coast, and on land it will include part of the Sistan and Baluchistan Province, and the Hormozgan province. 
This exercise will be implemented based on real threats and the planning of the Army's Zulfiqar HQ, and the units will operate as they would in [actual combat]. 
The peace and security in the region must be established by regional countries and we stress that we are opposed to the presence of foreigners in the region. 
In parts of this exercise, we will practice fighting terrorism. 
The Army and IRGC are two brothers and each one is trying to be family to the Peshmerga. [Of course sometimes we have hidden rivalries with one another], however both the Army and IRGC operate under one vision of the Islamic Republic and one command, which is that of the Supreme Leader.

The Commander of the Army's Navy – BG Habibollah Sayyari – said:
Two IRGC naval bases in Jask and Chahbahar are present under operational control in the Mohammed Rasoolallah exercise. 
The Army's missile ability [will be demonstrated] through the use of surface-to-surface, coast-to-sea, ground-to-air, and air-to-surface missiles in this exercise. 
We will notify [others] which region [will be used for the live-fire portion of the exercise], which the foreigners will leave. 
Whoever does not leave the region will [face] their own consequences. 
Foreign observers have been invited to this exercise.

The commander of the Army's Air Defense Force – BG Farzad Esmaeli – said:
In this exercise, such as in the past, spy-aircraft will be [driven] away from the region's [flight-identification-region]. 
The Air Defense HQ will participate in this exercise over 133,000 sqkm of ground, and 162,000 sqkm of air, and will act in cooperation with the IRGC's air defense. 
In this exercise, 3,000 people will directly perform air defense, and 10,000 people will perform support measures.

The Deputy Commander of the Army's Ground Force – BG Kiomars Heydari – said:
[The NEZAJA will have a presence in this exercise across 43,000 sqkm.] 
The Army Aviation will display new air-mobility tactics in this exercise, and NEZAJA UAVs will have presence with special tactics. 
27 special categories of NEZAJA [units] will show their capabilities in the form of a single independent command system. 
 The rapid transfer of forces to the most important sites on the battle field, which in this exercise will [include the aerial transport of the] the 55th Airborne Brigade. Also, special green-beret units from the 65th Special Operations Brigade will perform defensive and offensive [operations] on the coastal battlefield, and armored [units] will also display new tactics.

The Army's Air Force Research Deputy and Spokesperson – BG Hossein Chitfaroush – said:
In this exercise, nine types of IRIAF aircraft, from heavy and medium bombers, to fighters and fighter-bombers, will be present, and new and different types of missiles will be tested.” 

Title: We Have Arrived at 100% Self-Sufficiency in Dam Construction 
Date: December 18, 2014 / Azar 27, 1393
Source: FNA 
The director of the IRGC's Taavon bonyad, and the deputy commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Construction HQ – Parviz Fattah – has continued the passionate public defense of the IRGC's economic role. His comments have come on the heals of similar defenses offered by an array of officials including the secretary of the Expediency Council, the president's deputy for strategic planning and supervision, his oil minister, and his energy minister.

In particular, Fattah referred to the KAA HQ's efforts during the 90s to rebuild areas damaged in the war, including the construction of the Karkheh dam under Rafsanjani's and Khatami's presidencies, as well as their role in petrochemicals following the departure of the supermajors Shell and Total.

Importantly, while aknowledging that there were differences between the government and the HQ, he claims that these are only minor differences and haven't affected the HQ's work on any of their projects. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

News Roundup - December 17

Title: The Thoughts of Khatami and the Freedom Movement Were Against the Thoughts of the Imam and Supreme Leader / Saudi Arabia's Anger Toward Iran the Reason for Declining Oil Prices
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: FNA
 Summary: The Supreme Leader's Representative to the IRGC - Hojatoleslam Saeedi – outlines the two fundamental world-views shaping Iran's post-1979 foreign policy. The first group thinks that Iran's position is best served by participating with the international system, while the second group thinks that it is best served by permanently confronting it.

In his speech, Saeedi argues that former-president Khatami belongs to the first school of though, which he shares with Bani-Sadr, the disgraced former-president of the Islamic Republic who fled the country 1981, and who is now used in Tehran as a politically toxic symbol. Moreover, he argues that this world-view is explicitly opposed by Khomenei and the current Supreme Leader.

Excerpts from his speech:
There are two views on how to advance and run the country. The first view says that if we are looking to develop and progress, and [if] we want peace and comfort, we must become [part of] global society, and move within the framework of international law, and comply with the prescriptions that the World Bank and IMF write for us, a view which based on the principles of instrumentalism. 
The second view however believes that if we want to protect the Islamic Revolution, and sustain the independence and sovereignty of Velayat-e Faqih, and protect the strategic influence of the Revolutionary Front, we must stand with all our abilities against the Arrogance, and this view is based on faith. 
People who [unclear] and say that we must become like Malaysia believe in instrumentalism. [However], Malaysia has never committed to the Palestinian confrontation, and has never even committed to confronting Israel. 
These thoughts are the same as those of the Freedom Movement, and the National Front, which was opposed to resisting America. The view of Imam Khomenei [on how to] run the country was based on religion. 
… Bani-Sadr's behavior was such that he could not stand and confront the Arrogance. 
Khatami's thoughts were also based on instrumentalization, which were in confrontation with the Leader's thoughts. [Whereas the thoughts of the Supreme Leader are based on religion]. 
Foreign policy is one of the areas affected by these two [schools of] thinking. Each of them are based on a different and opposing view of America. 
The second areas is cultural, in which the religious-[based thought] has a different view of satellites and social networking. 
In economic issues instrumentalism looks to the IMF, and believes in a free market, but religious-[based thought] believes that the market must be free. 
[Instrumentalism is centered around the economy and livelihoods], and in this way it accepts international rules and dominance.” 

Title: Saudi Arabia to Reassure the West with Increased Oil Production for their Fuel Supply
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The Chief of Iran's Armed Forces General Staff – MG Hassan Firouzabadi – argues that Saudi Arabia has lowered the price of oil in order to support ISIS by depriving Iran of the revenue needed to conduct operations against the group. The other objective, Firouzabadi argues, is to reassure their western allies and guarantee their flow of fuel. 

Title: People Who Say That the IRGC's KAA HQ is a Competition to the Private Sector Either Misinformed or Ill-Intentioned / The HAA HQ Aids the Government's Decency
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The president's Deputy for Strategic Planning and Supervision – Mohammedbaqer Nobakht – is the latest in a string of government officials to defend the IRGC's Khatem al-Anbiya Construction HQ against accusations that it has unfairly enriched the IRGC through its industrial projects. In increasingly challenging economic conditions, the tempo of this criticism has only increased

Nobakht couches his counter-argument within the soft-war framework, arguing that these accusations stem from either a lack of knowledge, or are specific attempts to provoke strife in the community.

He echoes the argument made by others that the KAA HQ is the only body in the country capable of tackling massive infrastructure projects, and that it is organized to help the government, not maximize profit.

Nobakht's comments were made at the HQ's 11th conference for its commanders and managers. 

Title: The [KAA] HQ's Success is the Oil Ministry's Success / The KAA HQ is Not Anywhere a Competitor to the Private Sector 
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: Also defending the Khatem al-Anbiya's role in the national economy is the president's Oil Minister - Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. Specifically, he lauded the IRGC's role in damming the Karkheh river, and in developing the South Pars Gas Field. Like Nobakht, he also emphasized that the KAA HQ is not a competitor in the private sector. 

Title: The NEZAJA's Shahid Hejrati College Was Opened 
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: NEZAJA
Summary: The Army's Ground Forces opened a new applied-sciences college in their medical training center. The event was attended by the deputy commander of the service, BG2 Kiomars Heydari. 

Title: The Army and IRGC's Joint Air-Defense Plans Have Caused a Chance in the Behavior of the Enemy
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: AJA
Summary: During a meeting on command-and-control networks, the Deputy Commander of the IRIADF – BG Sabifard – affirmed inter-service cooperation, saying: “We have an inseperable relationship with all the Army and IRGC's forces such that our plans have caused a change in the enemy's behavior at the regional level.” He added: “A clear example of the cooperation between the IRIADF and the IRIAF was the [forced landing] of [then-insurgent commander] Rigi's aircraft, and ISAF aircraft, which would not have happened without this cooperation and cohesion.”

Intra-military unity is a consistent political theme in Tehran's security discourse. This is driven by the fear that rumors of competition or even just lack of coordination would delegitimize the Islamic Republic. More practically, coordinating the overlapping responsabilities of the Army and IRGC has been a persistent tactical challenge since the Iran-Iraq War, and much progress has been made in this regard. 

Title: An IRIN Delegation Visited Top Commanders of the Pakistani Navy 
Date: December 17, 2014 / Azar 26, 1393
Source: AJA
Summary: The Iranian Navy sent a delegation to attend the graduation of Pakistani naval personnel, and meet with their force's commander. No details of the meeting were supplied.

The delegation was headed by the Commander of the IRIN's Imam Khomenei Naval Sciences College in Nowshahr – Adm. Khordad Hakimi. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

News Roundup - December 11 & 16

Title: The Enemy's Movements Beyond the Country's Borders Are Being Watched 
Date: December 11, 2014 / Azar 20, 1393
Source: FNA
The Commander of Iran's Army Ground Forces – BG Ahmedreza Pourdastan – again echoed Tehran's official narrative describing regional insecurity. He argues that the 9/11 attacks were a watershed moment that marked a shift in the US's strategy in confronting the Revolution:

Because the enemies of Islam were tormented by the unity of Shia and Sunni Muslims, they intended to use the fabricated events of September 11 to infiltrate Islam. … When America saw the power [of the Revolution], including Velayat-e Faqih, Velayat-e Peziri mardom, and the Iranian military, their strategy changed and threats and soft-war were used to confront the Islamic Revolution. … Today, the enemy's strategy is to create a proxy-war in the region and all of the groups including Daesh, al-Nasr, etc, fight for America and Israel. … Creating differences between Shia and Sunni and within the Islamic World, providing security for the evil Zionist regime and preventing the formation of an Islamic front are among the objectives of the global arrogance.

He also commented on the ongoing nuclear negotiations, describing it in terms of the broader Revolutionary narrative of a once weakened country whom the world's powers are now forced to reckon with: “Today, the presence of six world powers in negotiations with Iran has shown ... the dignity and strength of the Islamic Republic.

Title: Some Want to [Extinguish the Flame] of Opposition to America / [unclear] 
Date: December 16, 2014 / Azar 25, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The commander of the IRGC again called out the reformist politicians for posing an existential threat to the Islamic Republic.

Although acknowledging that confronting America is not the only goal of the revolution, Gen. Jafari warned against those who would abandon this element. In particular, he accuses the '2nd of Khordad'* movement of wanting to bring the Revolution to a halt.

* '2nd of Khordad' refers to the reformist coalition under Mohammed Khatami's 1997 presidential campaign. 

Title: The Khatem Construction Headquarters is a Gift to the Country / The Headquarters Does Not Compete With the Private Sector 
Date: December 16, 2014 / Azar 25, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: Iran's energy minister defended the IRGC's KAA Construction HQ from criticism that its state-backed cronyism and self-interest. is hamstringing the economy.

Specifically, he argues that the KAA offers unique capabilities that are critical to national self-sufficiency and would otherwise be impossible without foreign assistance, such as dams and hydroelectric facilities. He defends the KAA's role in this sector saying that because water and electricity constitute public infrastructure, the KAA does not compete with the private sector. In particular, he denies that the KAA operates out of self-interest or for self-enrichment. 

Title: The Overhaul and Repair of the 15-person Bell 412 for the First Time in Iran 
Date: December 16, 2014 / Azar 25, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: PANHA reported the overhaul of a Bell 412 over the past year; the 412 is a medium-lift utility helicopter similar to the Bell 212, but was procured during the 1990s and is used in small numbers by the Air Force and by the government for VIP transport. Ostensibly, this development is significant because PANHA can now service an additional line of helicopters. However, because there are so few 412s in Iran's inventory, and because they are so similar to existing types in service, this news does not indicate a significant development in PANHA capabilities.

Pictures of the overhauled helicopter in PANHA livery available here (FNA).

Title: The Khatem Construction HQ Can Be Influential in the Creation of Economic Growth 
Date: December 16, 2014 / Azar 25, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: In another article defending the IRGC's KAA Construction HQ, the head of Iran's central bank – Valiollah Seif – was said to have praised the effects of the KAA's technical and engineering abilities on the national economy. Seif's remarks were made during a KAA conference held recently in Tehran.

Title: The Opening and Unveiling of Two Important Defense Achievements in the Presence of Gen. Deghan
Date: December 16, 2014 / Azar 25, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: In a ceremony at Malek Ashtar University, Iran's DM – Gen. Deghan – unveiled two new defense products, composite fibers pre-impregnated with curing epoxy, and a system to be used on radar test ranges for measuring the RCS of full-sized targets (such as aircraft).

Imagery of the event, including a poster showing the radar range is available at Defa News.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

News Roundup - December 10

Title: General Bakhtiari's Visit to Radar and Air-Defense Missile Systems in the Northwest
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: During a trip to the region in order to mark the opening of a martyr's memorial, the IRIADF's coordination deputy – BG2 Mousa Bakhtiari – also visited the Tabriz-based air-defense HQ, the 'Shahid Baradari' Air Defense Region.

The region's commander – BG2 Asadifard – was also present during this visit.

Title: Eighth C4I-Conference to be Held
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The conference will be held December 15-17, and will be held at the IRIAF's Shahid Sattari University, and will also include representatives other military organizations, unspecified universities, and the president's science and technology department.

Title: Hojatoleslam Arabpour Became the Head of the IRGC's Imam Sadiq Research Institute
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The appointment took place in a ceremony at the institute's location in Qom, which was attended by the Supreme Leader's Representative to the IRGC, Ali Saaedi.

Previously, Arabpour served in the IRGC's Office of the Supreme Leader for the Kerman province.

The exact purpose of this research center is unclear, but it appears it deals primarily with formulating the IRGC's ideas about education, technology, and science, as well as it's cultural/political impact.

Title: The IRIADF's Air-Defense Umbrella for Arbaeen Pilgrims Will be Widespread
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The IRIADF's Operations Deputy – BG2 Alireza al-Hami – said that that special measures are being taken to monitor and protect those pilgrims traveling to Karbala to celebrate the Shia holiday of Arbaeen. Arbaeen commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein and whose celebration has had heavy political overtones in modern Iran and Iraq.

The special measures involve the deployment of radars and SIGINT-stations inside Iran, the creation of a special task-force in the IRIADF's operations center, and monitoring air-corridors into Najaf Ashraf Airport (which serves as the primary point of entry for pilgrims headed to Karbala).

Title: Iran has Missiles that Make the Zionists Tremble
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: Tasnim News
Summary: In addition to the routine platitudes about the strength of Iranian missiles, the Deputy Commander of the IRGC – BG Hossein Salami – also seemed to allude to the US's recently released torture report, during a visit to East Azerbaijan province. He said in regards to the US's policies: “Talking of human rights and producing instruments of torture is an example of this paradox.”

Title: 2% of the Budget Allocated for Strengthening Defense
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: Tasnim News
Summary: The Majlis passed a budget-amendment that mandated the government spend “at least 2%” of the budget be spent on “programs to strengthen the national defense”. Specifically, it mandates the government provide radar systems, and navigation assistance (deconfliction?). Other elements of this amendment are unclear.

Title: [Pilgrims] Celebrate Arbaeen [Along] with the Victory in Amerli
Date: December 10, 2014 / Azar 19, 1393
Source: Tasnim News
Summary: There are reports that pilgrims travelling to Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen are carrying pictures of Qods Force commander, MG Soleimani, ostensibly as a testament to his popularity and his role in Iraq and Syria.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

News Roundup - December 8 & 9 (and November 30)

Title: Army Commander Visited Shahid Yassini Fighter Base in Bushehr
Date: November 9, 2014 / Azar 18, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: MG Ataollah Salehi visited different parts of TAB-5, including their aircraft-shelters and maintenance-group. No significant information.

Title: Construction Begins on IRGCN Health Center in Chah Mobarek Region
Date: November 9, 2014 / Azar 18, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The IRGCN has begun construction on a 2-story, 4,000 sqkm public-health facility. It will be located near the town of Chah Mobarek, about 20 km southeast of the IRGCN's fourth naval region in Assaluyeh.

Title: The Population Welcomed the IRGC's Call to Name the Iranian RQ170 / 900,000 Text Messages Received
Date: November 9, 2014 / Azar 18, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The IRGC's Public Relations Officer – BG2 Ramazan Sharif – said that the IRGC's open call for suggestions on what to name the IRGC-ASF's copy of the US RQ-170 UAV has resulted in numerous suggestions, including 900,000 text messages. He notes that the suggestions are based in Iranian religious and cultural identity.

He also notes that the last day of the contest is December 16th, and that the winner will receive a prize from the IRGC-ASF. He does not specify what this prize will be, though one would caution the winner's neighbors to be accommodating lest they want a JDAM in their front yard.

To contribute your own suggestions, you can:
Text: 20002541 (for those inside Iran)
Email: (for those outside Iran)

Title: The Taabin Plan Was a Big Intelligence Success / We Disguised the Attack on Basra / There is no Will in the Government to Confront Drug Trafficking 
Date: November 9, 2014 / Azar 18, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: Fars News interview the Head of the Basij Organization – BG Mohammedreza Naqdi – about numerous issues. These include:

His personal history in the IRGC, and the responsabilities he held:
- At 18, he was the IRGC's culture deputy for Gilan province.
- At 19, he was the head of the IRGC's staff in Gilan.
- At 20, he was responsible for intelligence in the country's west, under the command of Shahid Borujerdi in the Hamza Seyyed al-Shohada HQ.
- At 21, he was the HQ's deputy-commander during the suppression of the Kurdish insurgency (~1979).
- At 23, he was the commander of the IRGC's Ramazan HQ responsible for irregular warfare in the northwest.
- At 25, he commanded the IRGC's Badr Division, and helped organize Iraqi insurgents to fight Baghdad.
- At 31, the Supreme Leader appointed him to the police's counter-intelligence branch.

He also talks about his role in establishing the Badr Corps, and it's role in the Iran-Iraq War:
- Prisoners who were sympathetic to the Revolution were turned, and then sent back to Iraq to participate in a covert guerrilla war against the Baath government.
- Iraqi defectors were also used to gather intelligence, whether as interrogators, translators, or just as conventional HUMINT sources.
- After their initial intelligence exploitation, several battalions were formed to conduct guerrilla warfare. They infiltrated Iraq through the marshes near Basra, taking advantage of their links with Shia tribes.
- Recon performed by the Badr Corps helped Iran prepare for Operation Kheibar (1984) and Operation Badr (1985).
- After this, the Badr Corps were brought up to brigade-strength.
- During two minor operations in mid-1985, Naqhdi notes that the Badr Corps comprised the bulk of the attacking forces, and that Iran only supported them.
- They participated in the Karbala-4 and 5 operations (December 1986-February 1987), taking advantage of their disguise to penetrate Iraqi lines.
- After this, the Badr Corps had 9-10 battalions, and was brought up to division strength with Naghdi as its commander.

Finally, he talks about combating smuggling, arguing that during the Ahmadinejad administration there was a move to take the necessary measures to counter it, but the project never went anywhere due to the lack of political will.

Title: Operational Test of the Arash-2 Radar in the Velayat-93 Exercises / Mersad System to be Used with New Tactics in Next Exercise
Date: November 9, 2014 / Azar 18, 1393
Source: Defa Press
The deputy commander of the IRIADF - BG Sharokh Shahram - hinted at what sort of equipment the IRIAF would use during the late-December combined air/navy exercise on Iran's the southeast coast.

He notes that the Arash-2 surveillance-radar would be used in conjunction with the Mersad engagement-system and Shalamcheh missiles (the combined Mersad+Shalamcheh system is a descendent of the HAWK SAM).

He adds that in this exercise, the Mersad will be tested under conditions simulating a much higher density and volume of fire (it's unclear exactly what this means, but presumably he means more missiles fired in a shorter period of time).

Finally, he notes that their S-200s can be used anywhere, indicating that their ongoing project to make this system mobile is progressing.


Title: The Dream of Limiting Iranian Missiles Will Not [Happen] / Venezuela is Using Iranian UAVs
Date: November 8, 2014 / Azar 17, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The head of the parliamentary Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy – Alaedin Borujerdi – said that Venezuala has been using Iranian UAVs for several years, and that Mexico has also expressed interest in buying some.

Title: IRIA Exercise to be Held in Southeast / All of the Bases Around the Country are Being Watched
Date: November 30, 2014 / Azar 9, 1393
Source: FNA
Summary: The IRIA Commander - BG Ahmedreza Pourdastan - said that the Army Ground Forces will hold the late-December/early-January 'Mohammed Rasoolallah' exercise in Iran's southeast. The exercise will include:
- Recon and suicide UAVs
- Simulated conventional and proxy-war scenarios 
- Both live-exercise, and command-exercise
In a separate event, the deputy commander - BG Kiomars Heydari - said that the exercise would also include anti-airborne and anti-maneuver weapons, as well as intelligent anti-armor missiles.