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Organization and Functions

According to a classified report captured and released by the students who occupied the United States embassy in Tehran, initially the Pasdaran was planned as an organization that would be directly subordinate to the ruling clerics of the Revolution. According to this report, the Revolutionary Council in 1979 was composed of 12 members and the Pasdaran of 30,000 members, divided as follows: Central Council of Saltanatabad, Tehran, 4,000 members; Provincial Command, 20,000; other commands for border checkpoints and key areas, 3,000; and a training center at Aliabad, 3,000. The commander of the Pasdaran was Ayatollah Lahuti and its chiefs of staff were Hojjatoleslams Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Gholam Ali Afrouz.

From this modest beginning, the Pasdaran became a formidable force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 1986 the Pasdaran consisted of 350,000 personnel organized in battalion-size units that operated either independently or with units of the regular armed forces. In 1986 the Pasdaran acquired small naval and air elements, and it has claimed responsibility for hit-and-run raids on shipping in the Persian Gulf. Darting out from bases on a chain of small islands in Swedish-built speedboats equipped with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the Pasdaran has established a naval zone in northern Gulf waters. Hosain Alai, the Pasdaran naval commander, announced on April 27, 1987, that the Pasdaran was in "full control" of certain portions of Gulf waters and would continue to operate from Farsi Island, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as from Sirri, Abu Musa, and Larak islands. At that time 200 Pasdaran pilots reportedly were in training in East Germany.

According to the Muslim Student Followers of the Iman's Line, the Pasdaran, under the guidance of such clerics as Lahuti and Hashemi-Rafsanjani, was also "to act as the eyes and ears of the Islamic Revolution" and "as a special task force of the Imam (see Glossary) Khomeini to crush any counterrevolutionary activities within the government or any political usurper against [the] Islamic Government." Over the years the IRP's leadership used the Pasdaran to eliminate opposition figures and to enhance its own position. Using the Pasdaran as a springboard to more important positions, Pasdaran leaders could always obtain access to the Revolutionary Council and Khomeini. For example, President Khamenehi and Majlis speaker Hashemi-Rafsanjani were both former commanders of the Pasdaran.

Data as of December 1987