Iran Military - 2021


SOURCE: 2021 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Air Force, Air Defense Forces; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah, IRGC): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Aerospace Force (controls strategic missile force), Qods Force (special operations), Cyber Command, Basij Paramilitary Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); Law Enforcement Forces (border and security troops, assigned to the armed forces in wartime) (2021)

note: the Iranian Navy operates Iran’s larger warships and operates in the Gulf of Oman, the Caspian Sea, and deep waters in the region and beyond; the IRGC Navy has responsibility for the closer-in Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz

Military expenditures

3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

6.1% of GDP (2018 est.)

5.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

4.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

4.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

(Estimates)

country comparison to the world: 18

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 550-600,000 total active personnel; approximately 400,000 Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (350,000 Ground Forces; 18,000 Navy; 40,000 Air Force/Air Defense Forces); approximately 150-190,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (100-150,000 Ground Forces; 20,000 Navy; 15,000 Aerospace Force; 5-15,000 Qods Force); est. 90,000 active Basij Paramilitary Forces (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Iranian military's inventory includes a mix of domestically-produced and mostly older foreign equipment largely of Chinese, Russian, Soviet, and US origin (US equipment acquired prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979); weapons imports from Western countries are restricted by international sanctions; since 2010, Iran has received equipment from Belarus, China, and Russia; Iran has a defense industry with the capacity to develop, produce, support, and sustain air, land, missile, and naval weapons programs (2020)

Military deployments

est. 1,000 Syria (2020)

note: Iran has recruited, trained, and funded thousands of Syrian and foreign fighters to support the ASAD regime during the Syrian civil war

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 17 years of age for Law Enforcement Forces; 15 years of age for Basij Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); conscript military service obligation is 18-24 months; women exempt from military service (2019)

Maritime threats

the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2021-003A Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 26 February 2021, which states in part that "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping...there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;" Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel has been established to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman

NOTE: The information regarding Iran on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iran 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iran 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.