Imperial Guard (Iran)

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Logo of the Iranian Imperial Guard Imperial Guard of Iran.svg
Logo of the Iranian Imperial Guard

The Immortal Guard of the Iranian Empire (Persian : گارد جاویدان شاهنشاهی ایران, translit.  gārd-e jāvidān-e šāhanšāhi-e irān) was both the personal guard force of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and an elite combat branch of the Imperial Iranian Army. It was created in 1942 and disbanded in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution. It was named after the Immortals, an elite unit of 10,000 Persian soldiers in the army of the Achaemenid Empire.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Romanization of Persian or Latinization of Persian is the representation of the Persian language with the Latin script. Several different romanization schemes exist, each with its own set of rules driven by its own set of ideological goals.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 20th-century Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Islamic Revolution on 11 February 1979. A close ally of the United States, he tried to use vast oil revenues to generate a rapid industrial, cultural and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms. In reaction religious forces revolted and overthrew him.

Contents

Origins

Imperial Guard Headquarters in Tehran Royal Guard Headquarters Tehran.jpg
Imperial Guard Headquarters in Tehran

In 1921 a Persian Royal Guard was in existence comprising 20,000 men. A Guard Division was raised in 1925 by Reza Shah, incorporating both cavalry and infantry units. The Imperial Guard was subsequently formed in 1942 from 700 volunteers. It was originally designed and organized by General Jafar Shafaghat. The division was modeled after the Republican Guard of France and the British Royal Horse Guards. In 1953 the unit was expanded in size to a division under General Teymur Bakhtiar. In 1972 the Lashkari Guard Division was incorporated in the Imperial Guard together with a Conscript Brigade.

Reza Shah Shah of the Imperial State of Iran

Reza Shah Pahlavi, commonly known as Reza Shah, was the Shah of Iran from 15 December 1925 until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on 16 September 1941.

Republican Guard (France) security branch of Frances Gendarmerie responsible for Paris-area security and honor guards

The Republican Guard is part of the French Gendarmerie. It is responsible for providing guards of honor for the State and security in the Paris area.

Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (RHG) was a cavalry regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry.

Structure

Javidan Guard

The core of the Imperial Guard was the all volunteer Javidan Guard (Gârd e Jâvidân, Persian: Immortal Guard), better known as the "Immortals" after the ancient Persian royal guard or Persian Immortals. The "Immortals" were based in the Lavizan Barracks in northern Tehran. [1] By 1978 this elite force comprised a brigade of 4,000-5,000 men, including a battalion of Chieftain tanks. It was responsible for the internal and external security of the royal palaces. A special plain-clothes unit was called Ma'mourin Makhsous.

Persian Empire ancient empire, comprising many dynasties

The Persian Empire refers to any of a series of imperial dynasties that were centred in Persia/Iran from the 6th century BC Achaemenid Empire era to the 20th century AD in the Qajar dynasty era.

Tehran City in Iran

Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia, and has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked 24th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.

Brigade Military formation size designation, typically of 3-6 battalions

A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or reinforced regiment. Two or more brigades may constitute a division.

Prior to the 1967 Imperial Coronation a Pahlavi Cavalry Guard was formed, giving the Javidan Guard a Household Cavalry type mounted escort unit for ceremonial occasions. According to differing accounts this detachment was 30 to 50-strong.

The Household Cavalry (HCav) is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British Army, the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals. These regiments are divided between the Armoured Regiment stationed at Combermere Barracks in Windsor and the ceremonial mounted unit, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, garrisoned at Hyde Park Barracks in London. The Household Cavalry is part of the Household Division and is the Queen's official bodyguard.

The last Commanding Officer of the Javidan Guard was Lieutenant-Colonel Yusuf-i-nijad.

Main Imperial Guard

By the late 1970s the entire Imperial Guard (including conscripts outside the Javidan units) was 18,000 strong, with artillery, armored and helicopter units. The entire Guard comprised some 6% of the army, and were the only troops stationed permanently in the capital Tehran.

Recruitment

A recruit to the Imperial Guard had to pass a series of proficiency tests, varying in subjects and difficulty. Reportedly[ by whom? ] one of the prerequisites for initiation was to be able to recite one's family history back for 23 generations from memory alone[ citation needed ].

Uniforms and insignia

Imperial Guard units were distinguished by salmon (light red) coloured insignia. The Pahlavi Cavalry Guard had special blue and red ceremonial uniforms, including silver cuirasses and crested helmets.

Overthrow of the last Shah

The Imperial Guard remained loyal to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi until his departure for exile in January 1979. After two days of fighting on 9 through 11 February with armed civilians and dissident air force and army personnel the Imperial Guard was withdrawn to its bases. The Guards was disbanded on 17 February 1979. [2] The Javidan Guard was formally dissolved by the new Iranian regime, although some portions of the wider Imperial Guard remained in existence. These remaining units were stripped of their historic privileges and duties and integrated into the 21st Division of the regular Islamic Republic of Iran Army. As such they saw action in the Iran–Iraq War.

Commanders of the Imperial Guard

The last commander of the Imperial Guard at the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution was Lieutenant General Ali Neshat. [3] One of the former Guard commanders was General Gholam Ali Oveisi (1960–1965). One of the original commanders, General Jafar Shafaghat, during the last months prior to the fall of the monarchy in 1979 was appointed by the Shah as the minister of defense (the literal translation of this post from Persian is minister of war) under Shapour Bakhtiar Cabinet until the fall of the government.

Commanders of the unit were:

Related Research Articles

Immortals (Achaemenid Empire) elite force of soldiers who fought for the Achaemenid Empire

The Immortals also known as the Persian Immortals or Persian Warriors was the name given by Herodotus to an elite heavily-armed infantry queued unit of 10,000 soldiers in the great army of the Achaemenid Empire. This force performed the dual roles of both Imperial Guard and standing army. The force consisted mainly of Persians, but also included Medes and Elamites. Essential questions regarding the unit remain unanswered, because authentic sources are missing.

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References

  1. Liz Thurgood, Bakhtiar quits after losing army backing, The Guardian , 12 February 1979
  2. Roberts, Mark (January 1996). "Purge of the Monarchists". McNair Papers (47–48). Retrieved 29 August 2013.  via  Questia (subscription required)
  3. Sahimi, Mohammad (3 February 2010). "The Ten Days that Changed Iran". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 Ali Akbar Dareini (1998). The Rise and Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty: Memoirs of Former General Hussein Fardust. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 60–61. ISBN   8120816420.