Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NEZAJA Garrison Transfers Continue in Country's North-East

In May 2014, Iran's Army Ground Forces announced two new developments in their long-stuttering relocation of units out of urban areas. On May 5th, the new garrison for the 130th Infantry Brigade was opened near the city of Bojnourd, and on May 6th, the 2nd phase of the new garrison for the 77th Division Operations HQ, and the 377th Brigade was opened near the city of Mashhad. [1] [2]

A detailed history and assessment of this nation-wide program through September 2013 can be found in a post by the author at OSIMINT.

In Bojnourd, although the new site's location cannot yet be identified, the demolition of several buildings in the old garrison by late-2013 suggests that the process is well underway. Demolitions include at least six barracks and a number of equipment & vehicle garages. The equipment associated with the latter has also been displaced.

The new site is reported to include a 96-unit residential housing complex.

In Mashhad, the 2nd phase of construction on the 'Samen Alaeme' garrison was opened and includes facilities for an additional combat battalion(s). However, the rest of the garrison remains largely unfinished, and is unlikely to be for some time.

As noted in the OSIMINT report linked above, one of the most significant aspects of this transfer plan - from the perspective of a geospatial analyst - is the adoption of a coherent, planned layout, with its characteristic battalion clusters.

The first phase (09/2010 - 07/2011) saw the completion of facilities for the 110th battalion.  From 2011 onward, the second phase has focused on the construction of an additional four clusters. However, only one of these four - belonging to the 134th Infantry Battalion - has been completed at the present time. [3] The other three are at varying levels of completion.

However, the most significant development is the reported resolution of the funding shortfalls that had previously delayed construction. [4] According to comments by the commander of the Divisional Operations HQ, the Army has agreed to sell land elsewhere in the country to make up for the deficit left after the sale of the former garrison's land inside Mashhad failed to pay for the construction of the new facilities.

Photo reporting from the ceremony - which included appearances by regional and national commanders -  include a few nuggets of information that, while not groundbreaking, are noteworthy nonetheless.

First, interior shots show facilities that are more spacious and comfortable than the Army's older garrisons. Although unquantifiable, these small details will make the life of a conscript more bearable, increasing morale. It may also increase the attractiveness of the regular armed forces, which is important given anecdotal evidence to suggest that the IRGC and Basij have drawn recruits who perceive these to be 'cushier' than service in the regular Army.[5]

Second, a display of weapons set up for the ceremony included two quad-bikes fitted with purpose-built mounts for, respectively, TOW and AT-4/5 ATGMs. The AT-4/5 launcher, however, was fitted with a TOW-canister, not their original Soviet-bloc weapons. [6] The explanation for this may be as simple as 'they used an inert mockup/training-aide', or may be something else entirely.

Appendix - Staff IMINT:

Works Cited:
[1] The 130th Brigade's New Garrison Opened in the Presence of the NEZAJA Commander. 05/05/14. NEZAJA.
[2] The Second Phase of the 77th Division's Samen Alaeme Garrison Came Into Operation. 05/06/14. IRNA
[3] ISNA photoset
[4] ibid IRNA 05/06/14
[5] IRNA Photoset
[6] IRNA Photoset


  1. There are 2 interesting locations at Bojnourd:

    This is a little south-west, 1.5 miles of the old location. I don't think this is the new location of 130th but it does appear to have been resurfaced in the past 2 years and you can see artillery pieces near the "parade" ground/staging area? It does look like military is spending some money on renovations/work at this location so I guess they plan on keeping it.

    The other location is north, about 5 miles of the old location. On Wikimapia, it says it's a HAWK site but it doesn't really look like a SAM site, looks more like army/NG type barracks, firing range, obstacle course....I don't think it's the new location because it doesn't appear to have received any recent work.


    I did find a third location but with no new imagery, it is really too early to tell if it is really a military base under construction or just normal civilian development, worth keeping my eyes on it to see what it looks like when we get a fresh image.

  2. I hadn't seen the first site you mentioned. I agree that it's probably not the new location. For one, it's still inside the city. But other than that ...

    The second site is the IRGC's Javad Alaeme infantry brigade, which also forms the nexus of (or rather, may be indistinguishable from) their provincial headquarters, the 'Shahid Fuladi Operations HQ'. I had been doing some reading about it before I got distracted by that huge IRGC-ASF expo today. There doesn't seem to be too much remarkable about them other than that they've deployed to combat the insurgency in the SE regions.

    In regards to the third site, it might be helpful to check what year the imagery dates from, that might indicate whether it's a viable site - timeline-wise. Bing occasionally carries some more recent imagery.

  3. AFAIK, Bojnord's brigade was never there in full strength. It was a detachment from the famous Quchan 2nd brigade of the 77th ID that would send its battalions to Bojnord's garrison from time to time. FYI, Quchan's 2nd brigade was instrumental in Susangard campaign in 1980-81.

    1. Well, the NEZAJA.aja.ir article (footnote #1) seems to unquestionably associate the Bojnourd garrison with the 30th Division.

      Maybe it was transferred from the 77th to the 30th sometime between ~1980 and the present?
      For precedent, I'm thinking of something like what happened to the armored brigade in Hamedan, which was originally part of the 81st Division, but was transferred to the 16th Division back in - oh I'm not sure when exactly off the top of my head - I think it was before the revolution sometime.