ARMY vi. Pahlavi Period



vi. Pahlavi Period

Reżā Shah’s reign, 1925-1941. The development of a modern military force in Iran is closely associated with the rise of Reżā Khan, from being an officer in the Cossack division (formed in 1879) to his becoming, in the aftermath of the coup he led in 1921, the commander of the army and the Minister of War, Prime Minister in 1923 and later the founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty in 1926.

While the achievement of Reżā Khan in building a modern military force is noteworthy, the absence of an earlier development of military norms and institutions should not be exaggerated. His meteoric rise was facilitated through the support of the Russian-trained 8,000-man Cossack division, and his modern army was led by officers drawn from the division as well as many who had received training and experience in the gendarmerie, a force of about 8,500, which was commanded by Swedish officers. It is significant that while almost all dynasties in Islamic Iran have acceded to the throne through military force, the Pahlavis are the only ones whose power from the beginning was not tribally based but instead depended on the instrumentalities of the state institutions. The implications of having taken over the government through the first modern military coup in Iran, and in spite of the wishes of many traditional forces, were never lost on either of the Pahlavi shahs. These were manifested in the special relationship which the Pahlavis maintained with the military and the distrust they showed for many non-modern social formations and practices.

The state Reżā Shah built was united through the use of force. Tribes were put down militarily and local autonomies were brought to an end similarly. The compliance of the population in general was assured through the omnipotent position of the army. Much of the modern industry, communication networks, and education were geared to the needs of the military. As the military permeated all aspects of social life it naturally created resentments among the affected population. The close association between the person of Reżā Shah and the military and the fundamentally domestic and rule-enforcing role that the military played prohibited the military from becoming a national institution in contrast to Ataturk’s forces in neighboring Turkey. The military was perceived by many as a tool for building a dynasty, rather than a nation.

The growth of the military structure, however, was a response to a much more complex phenomenon. The recent threats to the Iranian sovereignty, such as the Anglo-Russian division of Iran into spheres of influence and the practical disintegration of the country during 1918-1921, in particular, influenced the decision to establish a unified national military. In contrast to the armies whose main function is the maintenance of a dynasty, Reżā Shah made little use of foreign officers. The few who served in the Iranian army were either from Sweden, a country which did not pose a threat to Iranian sovereignty, or were non-Russian Tsarist officers who had escaped from the Bolsheviks and had accepted Iranian citizenship (A. Banani, The Modernization of Iran, 1921-1941, Stanford, 1961, p. 55). Instead, serious attempts were made to turn the army into a national model for political integration.

While few foreign officers were employed, many cadets were sent abroad, mainly to French military academies. Consequently, the nascent military institutions were highly influenced by the style and organization which were prevalent in France. The Majlis (parliament) authorized the Minister of War in 1922 to send sixty candidates to French military academies. This began a process which lasted for a decade.

In 1921, as Minister of War, Reżā Khan dissolved all independent military units, whether they were domestic or foreign. The national army which was created in their place provided the primary precondition for the development of a modern state by enabling the state to monopolize the legitimate use of violence. This was the first unified Iranian army in modern times. The enactment of the law of compulsory military conscription in 1925 not only provided a pool of young men for the needs of the military but it was also aimed at turning the military into a national as well as a nation-building institution. The military institutions, consequently, came to reflect the demographic structure of the society better than any other societal or bureaucratic institution. In contrast to many pre-modern, colonial, or even contemporary Middle Eastern armies, the Iranian military did not depend on one ethnic group. The law provided for the universal drafting of all 21-year-old males for two years of active duty and 23 years in the reserves (Maǰmūʿā-ye qawānīn-e mawżūʿa wa moṣawwabāt-e maǰles, dawra-ye taqnīnīya-ye panǰom [Collection of the parliamentary legal enactments, fifth session], Tehran, 1926? pp. 217-22). The subsequent revision of this law, in 1938, reduced the length of service in the reserves, favored university and high school graduates with a more rapid rate of promotion, and, in a politically significant move, abolished clerical military exemption from the active two year service. Compulsory military draft was a serious step towards the integration of the society as it brought together young men with parochial loyalties and impressed upon them a romantic vision of Iranian history and nationalistic notions. The draft contributed towards the spread of literacy in the rural areas as the inducted young men from the villages were taught reading and writing during their terms of military service. The draft had, however, socially undesirable consequences such as a rate of urbanization too rapid for the urban economic growth and the development of a powerful military class which came to occupy many important civilian positions.

The army kept the state together more effectively through force than political socialization. Given the existence of armed and major tribal forces, there was little escape from the use of violence in order to build a modern state. However, extensive reliance on the military to maintain internal order, left the state little incentive to develop organic links with the society.

Modernization of the military went far under Reżā Shah. The army became equipped with armored cars; a small air force and a navy were developed as well. Until 1955, the navy and the air force remained as branches of the army. By 1941 when the Allies forced Reżā Shah to abdicate, the Iranian military numbered 125,000 troops and could mobilize 400,000, a major achievement, considering the meager and disorganized forces of only two decades earlier.

A concerted attempt was made to integrate the new and westernized military within the Iranian framework, by relating it to historical antecedents, particularly pre-Islamic ones. A new law enacted in 1936, establishing Western regulations and bureaucratic procedures governing promotions, salaries, retirement, pension, and insurance, also gave Persian names to the units and ranks (Maǰmūʿa-ye qawānīn X, Tehran, 1937, pp. 251-83.)

The size of the military and particularly the purchases of modern means of warfare, British aircraft, Italian gunboats and destroyers, and munitions from Germany, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia drained the economy. According to official figures more than 33.5 percent of the total government revenues, excluding oil revenues which comprised a separate category, was spent on the military from 1921 to 1941 (Banani, Modernization, p. 57).

Moḥammad Reżā Shah’s reign, 1941-1979. The strategic interests of the Allies brought about Reżā Shah’s abdication and the destruction of his army in the aftermath of the occupation of Iran by the British and the Russian forces in August of 1941. The young new Shah Moḥammad Reżā Pahlavi, who succeeded his father, checked by the parliament, the aristocracy, and the emerging bourgeoisie was at first unable to rebuild and use the military in the tradition of his father. In fact, the Shah was forced to accept Premier Moḥammad Moṣaddeq’s control over the portfolio of the Ministry of War in 1952. The premier immediately proceeded to retire many ardent royal officers. Yet the military was able to play a major role in the coup of 1953 which led to Moṣaddeq’s downfall and the gradual emergence of royal control (Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, pp. 278-80). With the dismissal of General Fażlallāh Zāhedī, who had replaced Premier Moṣaddeq and who had earlier led the military opposition to Moṣaddeq, the Shah’s control over the military became secure in 1955. The discovery of the Tūda (the Iranian Communist Party) cells in the army after the fall of Moṣaddeq indicated the extent to which the Shah had lost control of the army. Several hundred officers and non-commissioned personnel were found to be Communists; they were tried in military courts and were given sentences ranging from execution to relatively short term imprisonment (Farmāndārī-e Neẓāmī-e Tehrān, Ketāb-e sīāh, dar bāra-ye sāzmān-e afsarān-e Tūda, Tehran, 1955; Abrahamian, op. cit., pp. 336-38).

In spite of structural weaknesses and demoralization, the army that the new Shah had begun to rebuild in the early 1940s was able to defeat secessionist movements in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces in 1946 once the Soviet troops had left Iran under American diplomatic pressure. The serious rebuilding of the army, however, began in 1955. At the same time, given the reorganization and reinforcement of the police and the gendarmerie, the army’s routine role as the guardian of public order was reduced. It was only in the face of serious urban disorders and tribal rebellions such as those in 1342 Š./1963 that the army was called in. On the other hand, many nation-building tasks in education, health and construction were left to the army. Many college and high school draftees served in the Health Corps, Literacy Corps, and Construction and Agricultural Development Corps, building roads, public baths, schools, improving preventive medicine, and teaching rudimentary reading and writing. From 1963 to 1977, some 150,000 draftees served in the Literacy Corps (J. D. Randolph, “Armed Forces,” in Iran: A Country Study, ed. R. Nyrop, Washington, D.C., 1978, p. 395). The teaching of the national language performed a major integrative function in the society. Other corps were not as large nor as effective.

In addition to the above-mentioned functions which were carried out in the rural areas, the military performed a host of other civilian functions. In the area of administration of justice, the military courts had authority to adjudicate a gamut of cases involving charges from treason to armed robbery, and from hoarding to profiteering and trafficking in narcotics. The penalties were swift and serious. The armed forces gathered intelligence and cooperated with the SAVAK, the state security agency. In fact, many of the founding members of the SAVAK came from the army. Many officers served in the Imperial Inspectorate, investigating inefficiency and corruption in the civil bureaucracy. The military officers did not, however, fill the high-status positions to the degree they did under Reżā Shah.

The armed forces still remained a rapid and sure path to a higher social status. As such, they attracted the less powerful and the less affluent who needed the social and financial security the military provided. But, the attractions provided by careers in the civilian sector, continuously eroded the appeal of the military, particularly in the 1970s. The low pay scale for those below the rank of colonel and strict discipline further reduced the appeal of the military as a career. As early as the 1960s, it was mostly the lower middle strata of the population who enlisted as officer cadets (L. Hamon, Le rôle extra-militaire de l’armée dans le tiers monde, Paris, 1966, p. 193). In the 1970s the social gap between the military and the ruling class became much more serious. A source in the U.S. military attaché indicated in 1974 that the sons of prominent families had come to shun the military service (E. R. Oney, Elites and the Distribution of Power in Iran, Central Intelligence Agency, Secret, February, 1976, pp. 48, 51, repr. by Dānešǰūyān-e Mosalmān-e Payrow-e Ḵaṭṭ-e Emām, Asnād-e lāna-ye ǰāsūsī VII, Tehran, 1981). While the high ranking officers were gradually integrated in the ruling class, the bulk of the officers’ corps were not. The conscripts, in particular, performed menial tasks and received meager compensations. Consequently, the loyalty of the military to the regime in the long run was questionable, and this may partially explain the shah’s reluctance to unleash the military during the civil unrests of 1978-79.

Official defense expenditures accounted for a lion’s share of the government budget, although many military-related projects such as the construction of roads, airports, hospitals were subsumed under other ministries such as Transportation and Health. The defense budget between 1970 and 1976 increased from 8.2 percent of the GNP to 14.2 percent which meant that expenditure on the military grew from $1.160 billion to $9.503 billion (U.S. Congress, the House Committee on International Relations, United States Arms Policies in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea Areas: Past, Present and Future, Washington, D.C., December, 1977, p. 119). In current prices, this increase meant a twenty-five-fold leap in military expenditure in one decade (The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1976-1977, London, 1976; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, World Armaments and Disarmament, SIPRI Yearbook 1977, Cambridge, 1977). The rise in defense expenditures was concomitant with increase in oil revenues. From 1972 to 1975 when the oil prices rose sharply, the defense expenditure rose almost tenfold. During the Iranian fiscal year of 1977-78, when the oil revenue declined slightly, the military expenditure was stabilized. During the next year, when massive civil disorder swept through the country, the purchases of sophisticated weaponry were sharply reduced.

By 1972, even before spiral rises in oil prices, the Iranian armed forces reached such a degree of qualitative progress that they were taken into account on an international scale. In the Persian Gulf region, the purchases of sophisticated military equipment had placed Iran in the dominant position. They were able to rival the combination of the lateral Gulf states. The 191,000-man army included armored divisions, five infantry divisions (some of which were mechanized), one independent armored brigade, one SAM battalion with Hawk missiles, 2,060 tanks including M-47 and other advanced tanks (800 chieftain tanks were on order), a force of 84 helicopters, and 39 airplanes, mostly for transportation. The army also possessed many advanced weapons, such as TOW and ATGW. The navy, the smallest of the three branches (9,000 men), possessed one destroyer, two SAM frigates, four corvettes, 24 patrol boats, four landing craft, two inshore minesweepers, four coastal minesweepers, ten hovercraft, and 24 helicopters. The 22,000-man air force was in command of 160 combat aircraft, including two fighter-bomber squadrons with F-4Ds, with Sideswinder and Sparrow AAM and six fighter-bomber squadrons with F-5s. Transports consisted of 37 aircraft, including 26 C-130Es. The air force also included a force of 32 helicopters (U.S. Congress, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, New Perspectives on the Persian Gulf; Washington, D.C., 1973, pp. 69, 84-85.)

As Table 10 indicates, the major purchases were made after 1972. The American arms delivered in 1977 alone were in dollar terms more than one half of all the arms imported from the U.S. during the quarter of a century preceding it.

Quadrupling of arms sales agreement came in the wake of President Richard Nixon’s visit to Tehran in 1972. During that visit the President and the Assistant to the President, Henry Kissinger, committed the U.S. to a general guideline leaving decisions on the acquisition of military equipment primarily to the Government of Iran (ibid.). The carte blanche on arms sales was explained and supported by Joseph J. Sisco before the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the House Committee on International Relations on June 10, 1975. (See an excerpt of the testimony in Y. Alexander and A. Nanes, eds., The United States and Iran: A Documentary History, Frederick, Maryland, 1980, pp. 400-04.) Consequently, Iran became the largest arms importer in the world. Of $8.3 billion in revenues from foreign military sales which the United States received during the fiscal year of 1974, $3 billion were placed by Iran (A. Banuazizi, “Iran: The Making of a Regional Power,” in The Middle East: Oil, Conflict and Hopes, ed. A. L. Udovitch, Lexington, Mass., 1976, p. 495.)

By 1977 the army of about 220,000 contained three armored divisions, each with six tank battalions and five mechanized infantry battalions, another four infantry divisions, four independent brigades which included one airborne, one special forces, and two infantry, and finally the Army Aviation Command which operated 700 combat helicopters in addition to sixty fixed-winged aircraft (Randolph, “Armed Forces,” pp. 401-04.) By 1982, the army was expected to have 3,356 tanks—almost double the number in 1977—including 1,500 “Lions of Iran” especially designed for Iran (Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, Answer to History, New York, 1980, p. 196).

Numbering 100,000 men in 1977, the air force had grown faster than the other branches. It consisted of twenty-two squadrons, fifteen of which were fighters; other consisted of transport, tankers, and reconnaissance. Over sixty helicopters and three SAM battalions supported the air force. The aircraft which were already on order in 1977 were expected to double this force of 400 combat aircraft (Randolph, p. 406). By 1982 the air force was expected to grow to a more formidable force. It was to consist of 78 F14s armed with Phoenix missiles, able to fire six missiles at different targets at the same time, 250 F4s or “Phantoms” (the oldest of which were to be equipped with laser bombs and the most modern with a “black box” which would have warded off enemy missiles), 160 F16s, in addition to 24 747s and 707 airtankers and 57 C-130s. Much of this expectation was realized in 1978. The F14As were already armed with Phoenix missiles and air-tankers extended their range to 1400 miles. (For the number and types of aircraft and missile systems see Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, World Armaments and Disarmaments, SIPRI Yearbook, 1977, Cambridge, 1977).

The navy, still the smallest of the three branches, had increased its personnel in 1977 to 30,000. Rapid turnovers in its command system, due to corruption among the high-ranking officers, did not permit the navy to develop to the degree that the air force did. The absence of naval tradition and the cutback in military expenditure, including the postponement of the construction of the Čāh Bahār naval base, contributed to the navy’s relative backwardness. In 1977, however, Iran maintained the strongest navy in the Persian Gulf. Its inventory included three destroyers, four frigates with surface to air missiles, 25 patrol boats, as well as a large force of hovercrafts, minesweepers, landing ships, support and logistic ships and fifty-seven helicopters (International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance, 1976-1977, London, 1976, and International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance, 1977-78, London, 1977). The navy was not to be neglected. It was to include 12 submarines, supersonic Harpoon missiles, four cruisers and 12 destroyers, as well as Orion long-range reconnaissance planes. In contrast to the air force which was essentially dependent on American technology, the navy purchased its equipment from a number of Western countries, including the U.S. (Pahlavi, Answer to History, p. 198.)

The modernization of the Iranian armed forces took place within the framework of a special relationship with the United States. The American involvement in the buildup of the Iranian military began in 1942 with a small U.S. military mission, known as GENMISH, to train the Iranian gendarmerie. In 1947, another mission was assigned to the Iranian Ministry of War, known as ARMISH, for the purpose of training the Iranian army. With the inception of the U.S. military assistance program an American advisory group, MAAG, was formed in 1950 to administer the flow of arms into Iran. In 1962, ARMISH and MAAG were united and remained active until the revolution of 1979. After 1972, however, when the military purchases were expanded, ARMISH-MAAG played a less significant role in the procurement of the weapons system. The termination of the Military Assistance Program to Iran in 1967, apparently due to the country’s ability to pay for arms, and President Nixon’s agreement in 1972 to leave to Iran decisions as to what to buy, contributed to a reduced function for ARMISH-MAAG. Certain elements in the U.S. Department of Defense and some weapons manufacturers in the U.S. were also critical of ARMISH-MAAG’s efforts to reduce the scale of sales to Iran (U.S. Arms Policies in the Persian Gulf, p. 140.) The 75 percent reduction in MAAG’s personnel in the decade preceding 1971 and the demands generated by large-scale purchases of arms beginning in 1972 necessitated the formation of Technical Assistance Field Teams (TAFT) and the U.S. Defense Representative. While the number of ARMISH-MAAG personnel had remained at 209 since 1973, the TAFT personnel increased from the initial 552 in 1973 to 921 in 1976. The TAFT personnel, charged with providing short-term in-country training in equipment use, were scattered throughout Iran. The entire cost of TAFT and the salaries for all positions in ARMISH-MAAG were paid by the Iranian Government with the exception of eight spaces.

In addition to official American military representatives, the modernization of the military was accomplished with the support of a host of American civilian technicians, numbering 2,728 in 1977, 1,424 of whom were Bell Helicopter employees involved in building up the Iranian Air Cavalry (ibid., p. 145.)

The relationship between the two countries was not always cordial. In the early part of the 1960s, during President Kennedy’s administration, the relations between the two countries cooled considerably. Dissatisfied with the extent of military outlays, perennial budget deficits, and the absence of social progress, the Kennedy administration cut the $30 million annual U.S. contribution towards the maintenance of the Iranian armed forces in 1962. The Shah responded by promising the Soviets that no missiles would be permitted on Iranian soil. In 1967, the Shah signed an arms purchase agreement with the Soviet Union, which was followed by the termination of the U.S. economic assistance on the grounds that Iran was no longer a “less-developed country.” Cut from military and economic assistance, the Shah hit an independent foreign policy note in 1969 by opposing the continued use of Bahrain naval facilities by the U.S. once the British departed from the Persian Gulf. The relations between the two countries improved significantly after President Nixon enunciated the Guam doctrine in 1969 whereby regional powers were to be strengthened in order to defend themselves and their neighbors without direct military intervention by the U.S. The Nixon-Kissinger agreement with the Shah upon their 1972 visit to Tehran was an attempt to apply the Guam doctrine to Iran. Even in the post-1972 period, when the relations between the U.S. and Iran were the warmest, the military sales to Iran were subject to serious criticism by Congress and certain elements in the executive branch, particularly the State Department. Consequently, the Shah never felt fully assured of American backing.

The Iranian defense forces were highly compartmentalized. The Chief of Staff of the armed forces had little authority over other chiefs who all reported to the Shah directly. Literally, each branch was headed by the Shah (W. Sullivan, Mission to Iran, New York, 1981, pp. 74-75). Nor was the National Defense High Council able to coordinate the various branches or formulate defense policy. The Minister of War was effectively removed from military operations and their planning. He was the link between the military and the parliament and the latter’s decline in political power became manifest in the Office of the Minister, as well. In fact, the Vice-Minister of War in charge of purchases was noticeably more powerful than the Minister. The Vice-Minister, the Chief of Staff, and the branch chiefs were actually played against each other by the Shah who centralized military decision-making in his own hands (U.S. Arms Policies in the Persian Gulf, p. 124.) Thus, in spite of the fact that knowledgeable observers commended the ability of the commanding officers, without the person of the Shah, the military was structurally immobilized (see Figure 25).

The officers were trained in the Military College which served all three branches. Air force and naval academies were planned but were not established before the fall of the Shah. The air force officers received further training in the U. S. and naval officers were sent either to the U.S. or to Britain for specialized training. Advanced training for the army was carried out in the army Staff College and War Academy. Finally, a National Defense University was established in 1968. While the officers’ training was extensive and promotions were determined by regular examinations and performance as well as political factors, the conscripts were by and large illiterate, unable to handle modern equipment. In 1977, half of the personnel of the armed forces were unable to read or write. The rate was significantly higher in the army where the conscripts formed a majority compared to the air force where 90 percent of the personnel consisted of volunteers (Randolph, “Armed Forces,” pp. 408-09.)

The expansion of the Iranian military took place in response to the perception of a number of threats. Iran has historically been on the routes of many invading armies. In modern times, having annexed parts of Iranian territory, the Russians posed the most serious threat to the integrity of the country. The British announcement in 1968 of its impending withdrawal from the Persian Gulf formalized the end of an epoch in which Britain and Russia were balanced against each other, thus permitting Iran a measure of independence. With the British out of the Persian Gulf, the Shah decided to assure the security of the Gulf upon which the economic well-being of Iran depended. Given the international order, the Shah did not anticipate a direct invasion of Iran from the north by the Soviet Union and instead assumed that the Soviets would attempt to realize their interests, through client states or secessionist movements. In this vein, the Soviet-Iraqi friendship treaty, signed in 1972, and the Soviet naval visits to Iraqi ports in the Gulf were considered as threats to Iran. The cooperation between Iraq and many of the radical forces in the Gulf and the assistance they rendered to the Iranian opposition forces only confirmed the Shah’s suspicions of the Iraqi and the Soviet intentions. The Popular Front for the Liberation of ʿArabestān (Ḵūzestān) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Balūčestān, with their headquarters in Baghdad clearly had the dismemberment of the Iranian state as their goal. Others with headquarters in Iraq, such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf, were considered to be equally threatening. The military agreements between Iraq and the Soviet Union, such as the 1976 agreement for the purchase of advanced fighters, missiles, and tanks amounting to $ 4.5 billion made the threats of the Iraqi-based organizations more serious.

Russian influence in Afghanistan, the break-up of Pakistan in 1971 with the support of Soviet-backed India, the establishment of pro-Soviet regimes in Africa and the continuous dependence of Syria on the Soviet Union for arms brought about a siege outlook among the Iranian policy makers. The Iranian government was particularly concerned about the deteriorating situation in Pakistan in view of the ethnic aspirations of the Baluchis. A radical Baluchi state not only would have posed a threat to navigation in the Persian Gulf but would have fueled the ethnic demands of the Iranian Baluchis. Thus in 1973, the Shah declared flatly that Iran would not tolerate secessionist movements in Pakistan. The threats in the Gulf were considered so serious that starting in the 1960s the bulk of the Iranian forces was moved from the Soviet border to the Gulf region and the western border against Iraq. Sophisticated military bases in the 1960s and later were also placed in the west and the south. Even the Algerian agreement between Iran and Iraq signed in 1975, settling the border disputes in favor of Iran in return for her withdrawal of support for the Iraqi Kurdish rebellion, did not alter the Iranian government’s perception of threats. The Iranian army remained in place, ready to defend the oil fields and freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

For much of the Pahlavi period, the Iranian military was carefully kept out of regional conflicts. The Shah often hoped to accomplish his aims through the threat rather than the actual use of force. For certain conflicts, however, force was used. In the 1940s the military was used to suppress the tribal rebellions in the south and put an end to separatist movements in Kurdistan and Azerbaijan. Until the 1960s the military was primarily charged with the maintenance of domestic tranquility. Beginning with the 1970s, the conflict with Iraq was intensified and several skirmishes between the armed forces of both countries took place. On November 30, 1971, a day before the expiration of the treaties between the sheikhdoms of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, the Iranian forces occupied three islands of Abū Mūsā and the two Tunbs which formally belonged to Ras al-Khaimah but to which Iran had long-standing historical claims. The islands in the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz were of strategic interest to Iran as they controlled the entrance to the Gulf. In 1972, an Iranian military contingent was sent to Oman at the request of its monarch, Sultan Qābūs. The force, intended for assisting the Sultan to put down guerrilla warfare in his country, grew from 300 to 3,000. The troops were replaced regularly so that operations would give combat training to as many Iranian troops as possible. Casualties were high. In 1976, for instance, 200 Iranian military personnel died in action. In addition to the Oman expedition, 400 Iranian troops were stationed in Golan, as part of the U. N. Disengagement Observer Force, separating the Israeli and Syrian armies. Finally, in 1976, members of the Iranian armed forces were sent to Pakistan to assist the Pakistani army in putting down a Baluchi disturbance.



See also E. Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton, 1982.

R. D. M. Furlong, “Iran—a Power to be Reckoned with,” International Defense Review 6/6, 1973, pp. 719-29.

F. Halliday, Iran. Dictatorship and Development, London, 1978.

J. C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension, New York, 1969.

G. Lenczowski, ed., Iran under the Pahlavis, Stanford, 1978.

J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, Taḥawwolāt-e neẓāmī wa sīāsī-e Īrān, Tehran, 1947.

T. M. Ricks, “U. S. Military Missions to Iran,” Iranian Studies 12/3-4, Summer-Autumn 1979, pp. 163-94.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, World Armaments and Disarmament, SIPRI Yearbook, 1978, London, 1978.

U.S. Congress, 93rd, 2nd Session, House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Near East and South Asia, New Perspectives on the Persian Gulf, Washington, D.C., 1973.

U.S. Congress, 94th, 1st Session, House of Representatives, Committee on International Relations, United States Arms Sales to the Persian Gulf, Washington, D.C., 1975.

U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Foreign Assistance, U.S. Military Sales to Iran, Washington, D.C. 1976.

For the effect of the revolution of 1357 Š./1978-79 on the armed forces see W. F. Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army 1982, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 1982.

G. F. Rose, “The Post-revolutionary Purge of Iran’s Armed Forces: A Revisionist Assessment,” Journal of the Society for Iranian Studies 17/2-3, 1984, pp. 153-94.

(M. J. Sheikh-ol-Islami)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 12, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 5, pp. 508-514

Cite this entry:

M. J. Sheikh-ol-Islami, “ARMY vi. Pahlavi Period,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/5, pp. 508-514, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).