Iran: Dilemmas of Dual Containment

By Anthony H. Cordesman; Ahmed S. Hashim | Go to book overview

9
The Threat from
Iranian Land Forces

Military expenditures, arms imports, and total military manpower help measure Iran's military potential, but they are not measures of its contingency capability. It is the mission capabilities of Iran's military services, which largely determine the kinds of threats Iran can pose in the region and whether these threats will increase in the future. 354

Iran's land forces have been in a constant state of change since the end of the Iran-Iraq War and it is difficult to make accurate estimates of their strength. Iran's army and Revolutionary Guards units have suffered from the combined impact of revolution, a Western embargo on arms transfers, and the Iran-Iraq War. Iran's ground forces also took far greater losses during the Iran-Iraq War than the Iranian Air Force or navy, particularly during the war's final battles. Iran's defeats in the land battles of 1988 were so severe that they led to the disintegration of some elements of the Pasdaran and even Iran's main regular army units. These defeats also caused massive losses of weapons and equipment.

While Iran's exact losses are disputed, it is clear that Iran lost over half of its operational armor between February and July 1988. Iraq seems to be correct in claiming to have captured some 1,298 Iranian tanks and heavy armored fighting vehicles, 155 other armored fighting vehicles, 512 armored personnel carriers, large amounts of artillery, 6,196 mortars, 8,050 RPGs and recoilless rifles, 60,694 rifles, 322 pistols, 501 pieces of heavy engineering equipment, 6,156 pieces of communications gear, 16,863 items of chemical warfare defense equipment, and 24,257 caskets. 355 The degree of disintegration in Iran's land forces at the end of the Iran-Iraq War is reflected in the fact that much of this captured equipment showed no sign of combat damage or wear. Much was abandoned in the field, either out of panic, or because of supply problems.

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