The 125,000 strong Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG or Pasdaran) secures the revolutionary regime and provides training support to terrorist groups throughout the region and abroad. Both the regular military (the Artesh) and IRGC are subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). This new ministry, established in 1989, was first headed by Akbar Torkan, a civilian and a former head of the defense industries establishment. MODAFL curtailed the institutional autonomy of the IRGC and brought it under the overall defense umbrella. The IRGC Ministry was scrapped, and its command structures were brought within the new MODAFL.
The IRGC was formed following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in an effort to consolidate several paramilitary forces into a single force loyal to the new regime and to function as a counter to the influence and power of the regular military, initially seen as a potential source of opposition and loyalty to the Shah. From the beginning of the new Islamic regime, the Pasdaran (Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Islami) functioned as a corps of the faithful. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic entrusted the defense of Iran’s territorial integrity and political independence to the military, while it gave the Pasdaran the responsibility of preserving the Revolution itself.
Days after Khomeini’s return to Tehran, the Bazargan interim administration established the Pasdaran under a decree issued by Khomeini on 5 May 1979. The Pasdaran was intended to protect the Revolution and to assist the ruling clerics in the day-to-day enforcement of the new government’s Islamic codes and morality. There were other, perhaps more important, reasons for establishing the Pasdaran. The Revolution needed to rely on a force of its own rather than borrowing the previous regime’s tainted units. As one of the first revolutionary institutions, the Pasdaran helped legitimize the Revolution and gave the new regime an armed basis of support. Moreover, the establishment of the Pasdaran served notice to both the population and the regular armed forces that the Khomeini regime was quickly developing its own enforcement body. Thus, the Pasdaran, along with its political counterpart, Crusade for Reconstruction, brought a new order to Iran. In time, the Pasdaran would rival the police and the judiciary in terms of its functions. It would even challenge the performance of the regular armed forces on the battlefield.
Although the IRGC operated independently of the regular armed forces, it was often considered to be a military force in its own right due to its important role in Iranian defense. The IRGC consists of ground, naval, and aviation troops, which parallel the structure of the regular military. Unique to the Pasdaran, however, has been control of Iran’s strategic missile and rocket force.