“By the reckoning of strategic research institutes in the world, we are currently among the superior powers and have the strongest armed forces.”
This from Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani, commander of the Basij Resistance Forces, at a meeting of high-ranking officials in the Ghadir district of Tabriz on Wednesday, September 17.
The paramilitary chief did not specify exactly which “institute of strategic studies” had named Iran as one of the world’s top military powers, or indeed, what was meant by “superior power”.
Can Iran be counted among the top five military powers in the world? Can Iran even be counted among the top 10?
Does the Iranian military rank higher than others in the region? In this report, IranWire tries to establish if this claim can be verified.
How Can We Measure Military Strength?
At first glance, because of the Iranian leadership’s intensive focus on building military capability – and devoting a large portion of Iran’s public spending to institutions affiliated with the Islamic Republic’s armed forces – Brig.
Gen. Soleimani’s claim almost seems plausible.
But a cursory review of expert analyses and publicly-available data from global security institutions suggests otherwise.
For the purposes of this study, IranWire has researched some of the metrics used to map out countries’ military might.
The aspects of Iran’s military we will be analyzing here are:
How Many Soldiers Does Iran Have?
International statistics indicate that Iran’s strongest military accolade is the size of its army. Strongest Militaries
In its 2020 report on the world’s largest armies, the Germany-based Statista Institute reported Iran has 523,000 active military personnel on its books: putting it some way behind Russia (1million), the US (1.4m) or China (2.18m), but still enough to afford.
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