Jordan Table of Contents
In 1983 the Jordanian parliament approved a People's Army Law requiring male and female students in high schools and colleges and males between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five who had not undergone military service (including government employees and farm workers) to become members of an auxiliary force called the People's Army. Women between the ages of sixteen and forty-five who were not students could volunteer for the program. Special uniforms and insignia were worn. Training included weapons handling and indoctrination in patriotism, although some emphasis was placed on civil defense and rescue work and first aid in the event of natural disasters. Persons employed in vital areas of production were exempt. Instruction for members of the People's Army was administered at secondary schools and colleges by visiting teams of regular uniformed personnel, although annual refresher training was given at military camps. Exercises were carried out jointly with regular military units. Women's training occurred in schoolyards under the supervision of female teachers. Islamic activists in parliament had opposed compulsory service for women and any mixing of the sexes in training. The prime minister rejected the criticism, however, noting that women had participated in the Prophet Muhammad's conquests.
The original intention was to raise a people's militia of about 200,000 people comprising students and persons deferred from military service. Slow to get under way, however, by the close of 1986 the program had been introduced in only one governorate, and no more than 10,000 individuals had been enrolled. The Military Balance, 1989-90, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, estimated enrollment in the People's Army to be more than 15,000 as of 1989. The People's Army was equipped with light weapons obtained from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, including the Soviet AK-47 assault rifle (the regular army continued to use the United States M-16 as its basic infantry weapon).
A separate reserve program was maintained but was reported to enjoy lower priority after the formation of the People's Army. The estimated 30,000 army and 5,000 air force reservists were conscripts who, having completed their two years of service, remained on call for another five years. Reservists had assignments to fill in existing regular units if called up during a crisis. Mobilization plans based on the development of separate reserve elements were reportedly in abeyance because of the lack of funds for regular training and equipment.
Data as of December 1989