Iranian news agencies for the first time revealed the names of IRGC Ground Force's 10 Regional Headquarters on Thursday March 26. These 10 headquarters, along with the Sarallah HQ in Tehran, constitute the IRGC's nationwide network of operational command.
Individual headquarters and their commanders were known to experts, but this was the first time all the headquarters mentioned together offering a glimpse of the bigger picture.
The information was revealed as the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) Ali Larijani and IRGC Chief Commander Hossein Salami reviewed a nationwide biological defence exercise by the IRGC ground force. The exercise was part of Iran's coronavirus prevention and control effort.
Every one of these 10 headquarters include some provincial IRGC corps including IRGC and basij militia divisions, brigades, and security battalions. Their inception coincided with the introduction of IRGC's asymmetrical warfare strategy in mid 2000s which also includs support for regional proxy groups, and the use of speedboats, drones and missiles with the objective of protecting the country in case the central command in Tehran is seriously damaged in a strike.
All of the 10 headquarters operate under the command of Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of the IRGC's ground force. They operate alongside the Sarallah HQ in Tehran under Major General Hossein Salami's command. The 10 regional headquarters are:
South-West Karbala Headquarters
This is the oldest IRGC ground forces headquarters which was established in 1981. It covers Khuzestan, Lorestan and Kohkiloyeh, Boyer Ahmad provinces.
Its commander is Ahmad Khadem and his provincial deputies are Hamid Khorramdel, Hassan Shahvarpour and Morteza Kashkouli, and its most important combat units are the 7th Division of Khuzestan, the 57th Lorestan Brigade and the 48th Victory Brigade (Fath) of Kohkilouyeh.
This is the closest ground force headquarters to the Strait of Hormuz. It has carried out many exercises simulating defending the strait. It has parts of the IRGC in Hormozgan, Fars and Bushehr provinces under its command.
The most important unit in this command is the Fajr (Dawn) division of Shiraz as well as the 33rd brigade of the Special Forces.
The commander of this headquarters is Hamid Sarkheili and his deputies are Hashem Ghiasi, Ali Razmjou and Abazar Salari.
South-East Qods Headquarters
This headquarters has the largest geographic territory to cover including the two provinces of Kerman and Sistan va Baluchistan. Its most important units are the 41st Sarallah division of Kerman and the 110th Salman brigade of Sistan va Baluchistan. As per an order issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei, it also replaces the border police at Iran's eastern borders.
Its commander is Brigadier General Mohammad Karami and his deputies are Hossein Maroufi and Amanollah Garshasebi.
Sayyid al-Shohada Headquarters
This headquarters is located in the middle of the country in Isfahan and includes the IRGC units in Isfahan, Charmahal va Bakhtiari and Yazd provinces. Its most important units are the 8th Najaf division, the 14th Imam Hossein division, the 18th brigade of Yazd and the 44th brigade of Shahr-e Kurd.
These units were highly active during the war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Its commander is Brigadier General Javad Estaki and his deputies are Mojtaba Fada, Ali Mohammad Akbari and Reza Shamsipour.
Najaf Ashraf West Headquarters
This is also one of the oldest units of the IRGC. It was established during the war with Iraq and its mission was to further the combat in the Western front. It includes units from Kermanshah, Hamadan and Ilam. Its most important units are the 29th division of Kermanshah, the 11th brigade of Ilam and the 32nd brigade of Hamadan.
Its commander is Brigadier General Mohammad Nazar Azimi and his deputies are Bahman Reyhani, Mazaher Majidi and Jamal Shakarami.
North-West Hamzeh Sayyid al-Shohada Headquarters
This headquarters was established in the early 1980s with the objective of suppressing Kurdish opposition forces in Western Iran.
The government counts on the HQ for the security of the Kurdish populated areas of Kurdistan and Western Azaarbaijan. Its most important unit is 3rd Hamzeh Sayyid al-Shohada division.
Its commander is Brigadier General Mohammad Taqi Osanlou and his deputies are Sadeq Hosseini and Habib Shahsavari.
This headquarters is based in Tabriz and includes units from East Azarbaijan, Zanjan and Ardabil provinces. Its most important unit is the 31st division.
Its commander, Brigadier General Osanlou is the only commander who commands two headquarters, Ashoura and Hamzeh.
His deputies for Ashoura HQ are Abedin Khorram, Jalil Babazadeh and Jahanbakhsh Karami.
North Ghadir Headquarters
This HQ covers the three provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan and Golestan and its most important units are the 25th Karabala division in Mazandaran and the 16th Qods brigade in Gilan.
Its commander is Brigadier General Ali Shalikar and his deputies are Mohammad Abdollahpour, Ali Malek Shahkoui and Mohammad Hossein Babai.
North Samen al-Aemeh Headquarters
This is the IRGC's headquarters for eastern and north-eastern regions and covers the three Khorasan provinces. However, the HQ is not a real combat unit as there has never been any military activity along the borders in this region.
The commander of this HQ is Hassan Mortazavi and his deputies are Yaqub Ali Nazari, Abolghassem Chaman and Ali Nazari.
This headquarters is in charge of the city of Qom where Iran's main Shiite seminaries are based. The city is the political base of the ruling elites in Iran.
This is a geographically dispersed headquarters as it includes units from Central Province, Qazvin and Semnan provinces as well as Qom. Its military units are mainly located in Qazvin, Arak and Qom.
The commander of this headquarters is Brigadier General Ali Akbar Nouri and his deputies are Mohammad Taqi Shahcheraqi, Mohammad Shahrokhi, Mohsen Karimi and Hamid Damqani.
Sarallah HQ in Tehran
Sarallah is tasked with keeping the capital secure. It is the most important IRGC ground force HQ in Iran consisting of several of the most important units of the IRGC, which protect key institutions and the offices of the government and is tasked with thwarting any threat against Tehran.
Officially its commander is the same as IRGC commander, however, from an operational standpoint, its commander is Mohammad Kowsari and his deputies are Mohammad Reza Yazdi, Hassan Hassanzadeh and Yousef Molaei.
Although these 11 headquarters are officially tasked with commanding and furthering asymmetrical warfare, but their undeclared mission is suppressing dissent and protests and this is what they did heavy-handedly during last November protests all over Iran, including a major massacre in Mahshahr. Confronting dissent is now their main function.