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]

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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. 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.

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