BAGHDAD: Iran has vowed to retaliate after its most powerful military commander General Soleimani was killed by a US strike in Baghdad.
The killed commander is said to have high influence in Iran and its allies in many ways. He is said to have been entertaining the regard next after the Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Amidst the anticipations about the possible retaliation from Iran its interesting to go through some facts and heresies about Iran.
What do we know about Iran’s military capabilities? How big is the Iranian army?
It is estimated that there are about 523,000 active Iranian personnel in a range of military roles.
This includes 350,000 in the regular army and at least 150,000 working as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC). In addition to it there are 20,000 service personnel in the IRGC’s navy that operates a number of armed patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait of Hormuz is the site of several confrontations with foreign flag- bearing tankers.
Established 40 years ago esp. to defend Islamic system, IRGC has become a major part of Iran’s military strength, exercising its special role as major military, political and economic force.
The Quds Force, led by General Soleimani till he was killed in US attack in Iraq has fewer troops than the regular army, but is believed to be more authoritative force than any others of its types.
What about operations beyond its national border?
It’s for the Quds Force, approximately 5,000 well trained and well equipped fighters, to execute secret operations abroad for the IRGC. The Force is accountable to the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Deployed in Syria, the troop is loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and armed Shia militias fighting with them.
In case of Iraq, Quad’s Force has been assisting the Shia- dominated paramilitary force which fought against the Islamic State group.
US believes the Force is responsible for most of the explosion targeted against it and claims it has an influential nexus with other terrorist forces in the gulf, Middle East and the neighborhood.
Does Iran have missiles?
Yes – Iran’s missile capabilities are a key part of its military prowess, perhaps compensating its relative lack of air power compared with rivals such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.
However, the long-range missile program was stalled by Iran as part of its 2015 nuclear deal with foreign countries, according to the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think tank.
Speculations are made on the fact that Iran might have resumed it.
Lately, when US one of the signatories of such deal withdrew its commitment, many had expected Iran to pull back from the deal as well, though Iran had, then, said it would abide by the deal.
Does Iran have nuclear weapons?
Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program formally, and has previously said it does not want one. But everyone believe it has all the materials required for it.
In 2015, the US government under President Obama estimated that Iran only needed two to three months to produce enough nuclear material to make a weapon.
Iran has also entered Israeli airspace with armed drones operated from bases in Syria, according to Rusi. In June 2019, Iran shot down a US surveillance drone, claiming it had violated Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, an strategic act to display its strength.
It is remarkable that in Iraq, Iranian drones have been used since 2016 in the fight against IS.
What’s Iran’s military strength now?
Military Strength Ranking 2019 shows Iran holding 14th rank now. The global index which included 136 countries of the world in it had placed Iran’s military strength on 13th position in 2018.
According to the updated report of 2019, US is at the top followed by Russia, China, India and France 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th rank respectively.
Japan, South Korea, UK, Turkey and Germany are in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th position in the list. Italy 11th, Egypt 12th, Brazil 13th come before Iran which is indexed as the 14th in the rank.