Friday, April 12, 2013

Iran's Disappearing Divisions continued - the 28th Infantry Division

Continuing with my focus on the Iranian Army's doctrinal evolution and its relationship to the ever-changing art of modern warfare, I now turn my lens to one case study in particular - the 28th infantry division.

The first part of this analysis can be found here: "Iran's Disappearing Divisions"

The 28th infantry division was been based out of the Kurdistan province on Iran's western border with Iraq and was organized under both the armed forces of Imperial Iran, and the Islamic Republic. However, in 2011 it was broken up as part of the Iranian Army Ground Forces 'restructuring plan' (طرح تغییر ساختار) that resulted in a growth in the number of independent brigades throughout the country.

This process occurred in three stages. The first stage began in May 2011 with the conversion of the 2nd brigade in Saqqez to the 228th independent brigade. In November, the second stage saw the conversion of the 3rd brig. in Marivan to 328th IB. Most recently, in February 2013, the 1st brig in Sanandaj began its conversion to the 128th IB in the final stage of the plan.

The end-state of this reorganization is four independent maneuver brigades (the three listed above, plus the 71st independent mechanized infantry brigade in Sarpol Zahab, which although not formerly part of the 28th ID, is included in the attached map) under the operational coordination of the former divisional headquarters that appears to be roughly equivalent to a 'corps'. At first glance, because a four-brigade corps is similar in size to a division, one is left with the question "why?". The key distinction to make between these two systems is that brigades are now the basic combat unit whereas previously they dependent on the divisions for combat support (for example: engineering, air defense, transport and logistics battalions).

This new body - the 'Northwest Tactical Command Division' (لشکر تاكتيكي قرارگاه شمالغرب) - is described by its commander - Second Brigadier General Cyrus Razmgir - as providing intelligence oversight (قرارگاه ضمن نظارت اطلاعاتی). The combat support units (یگانهای پشتیبانی) it used to command have now been reassigned to the brigades themselves.

The stated objective of this reorganization seemingly could have been lifted directly from any number of RAND monographs from the 1990s expounding on the virtues of breaking down command hierarchies. Cyrus's comments specifically emphasized that the plan was designed to preserve the commander's decision-making capabiltiy in the prsence of overwhelming attacks against their organizational hierarchy (سلسله مراتب ). The conclusion the army reached was that in order to react to these threats, combat units needed to be able to operate within the shortest possible reaction time and be agile and dexterous (چابکی و چالاکی) all in the absence of support from the "top".

Relevant Works:
IRNA Article One

 Note on Source: Persian-speakers are invited to check my claims against the articles themselves since there's always the risk I may have misrepresented an argument. For instance, it's unclear what the "Norwhest Tactical Command Division's" relationship to the "Northwest Operational HQ" commanded by Second Brigadier General Heshmat Malekian is.


  1. Hi,name of the plan for changing structure of Army to a brigade based system is named thamen alaeme and this plan also call for repositioning of some army base to outside of cities and near border here are some new bases under buil,construction or planed:mashad,tabriz,zahedan,ahvaz and birjand bases are almost finished,qaem shahr,nahbandan,bojnord.zanjan and shiraz are in the process of construction,four new bases planned in sirjan,kahnooj,kerman and ilam.
    here is the source:

  2. also i think there was a mistranslation in your other article,in the said article you wrote that iran army in 1390 had a total of 19 brigades while what he said was that 19 brigades have become independent in 1390 here is that part of article
    * مستقل شدن 12 تیپ در سال جاری در غالب طرح جامع ساختاری نزاجا

    فرمانده نیروی زمینی ارتش ادامه داد: با توجه به تغییر ساختار تهدیدات ساختار قبلی نیروی زمینی چندان کارایی نداشت به همین منظور طرح جامع ساختاری نیروی زمینی پس از چند هزار ساعت تحقیق، تهیه و به تصویب سلسله مراتب و پس از آن فرمانده کل قوا رسید و سال گذشته مورد اجرا گذاشته شد.

    وی تاکید کرد: آمایش سرزمینی، چابک سازی و چالاک سازی یگان‌ها و خود کافی بودن قرارگاه‌ها از جمله ویژگی‌های این طرح است و در سال گذشته در این راستا 19 تیپ ما مستقل شدند که در سال جاری 12 تیپ باقیمانده هم مستقل خواهند شد.

  3. Thank you for the feedback Farzam, and for the additional articles! This kind of clarification is always helpful.

  4. This is by far the most objective/factual database on the Iranian armed forces I've seen on the net... Keep up the good work! It would be most interesting if your blog would benefit of the occasional guest post (I understand recent rate of articles is caused by your personal life and completely understand this, yet I keep wanting more of these little information jewels).

    Thanx for the blog!

  5. Hi, do you know if Iran still uses human wave attacks as part of their strategy? Against Iraq, Iran's human waves would (with heavy losses) defeat their opponent's mechanized forces, but then would lose momentum because of a lack of mobility, so I would imagine this new system of independent brigades could help them keep up their momentum during a future wave attack, if they decide to carry them out.

  6. I know that you are working on saf 385,so i thought that you find this interesting on page 15 it says that old turret of M-47 was build using casting and new sabalan turret is build from layer(ورق) and with using forge(فورج) i don't you about armor so i wanted to ask your opinion.

    Also another interesting thing on page 19,it gives some interesting details about testing of Zulfiqar and that on tir 1390 when leader was visiting defense industry exhibition leader give the go ahead on testing zulfiqar, it also seems(according to things i read on this edtion of saf) after 9/11 some(probably irgc) believed that tanks are of no use so funding for z program was reduced and it was advancing slowly but after sometime army leaders convinced higher ops of important of armor on fighting a layered defense.

    Also i think that you heard that neynava will enter mass production next year,army is about to receive wheeled 155mm SPH in mass numbers and that we will have new APCs shown during beit olmoghadas 25 drills on 3rd khordad.

  7. Great to see that you are back!

  8. Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

    FadoExpress là một trong những top công ty chuyển phát nhanh quốc tế hàng đầu chuyên vận chuyển, chuyển phát nhanh siêu tốc đi khắp thế giới, nổi bật là dịch vụ gửi hàng đi mỹ, gửi hàng đi nhậtgửi hàng đi pháp và dịch vụ chuyển phát nhanh đi hàn quốc uy tín, giá rẻ