Friday, April 11, 2014

North West Regional Operations Headquarters

The first part in this series covers the Army's Northwest Operations Headquarters, which is based in Tabriz, and borders Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and northern Iraq.[1] [2] The second part in this series covers the Western Headquarters, while the third covers the Northeast Headquarters.

The Northwest HQ is one of five other regional HQs created under the Army Ground Forces' (IRIA) 'Samen restructuring plan'. Operating on the assumption that they would face a simultaneous, multi-front attack that would preclude centralized strategic control of battles, the IRIA created these HQs to control operations and coordinate tactical actions within their respective theaters. By coordinating tactical actions at this level, the IRIA hopes to achieve their operational objective of regional integrity, which when taken as a whole comprises the national-level defense-in-depth strategy.

Their role is further described by the commander of the IRIA – BG Ahmed Reza Pourdastan – in a 2013 interview: 
“With the objective that units be completely self-sufficient and be able to confront threats independently, we created five regional headquarters in the northeast, southeast, southwest, west, and northwest, and we designed the structure and organization of these headquarters to be self-sufficient and not need outside equipment when confronting threats. These HQs have all of the structure and organization required for an independent and self-sufficient unit, [including] support, and transport units, as well as hospitals.”[2 1/2]

HQ Staff
As of 10/2013, the HQ's commander is Brig. Gen. 2nd-class (BG2) Heshmatollah Malekian. [3] As of 02/2013, it's deputy commander is Brig. Gen (BG) Lotfi. [4] That the deputy commander would outrank the commander is unusual. The coordination deputy (equivalent to a chief-of-staff) is Col. Hamed Mousa Babaei.[5] The intelligence deputy is Col. Asadi

Units subordinate to the HQ include the remnants of the 16th, 21st, 28th, and 64th Divisions, and other pre-existing local units. Although divisional support and combat assets are now being pushed downwards to their formerly-subordinate brigades, their staff remains in the form of a divisional operations (or tactical) HQ.

These include the:

- 16th Armored Division Operations HQ, Qazvin [6] [7] [8]
Commander: BG2 Abdulreza Shahri
Deputy Commander: BG2 Mohammed Rezaei
Associated Units:
116th Armored Brigade, Qazvin
216th Armored Brigade, Zanjan
[the 316th AB, Hamedan, is associated with the Western Regional Ops HQ]

-  21st 'Hamza' Division Operations HQ, Azerbaijan [Tabriz] [9]
Commander: BG/BG2 Nader Najafi [10]
Associated Units: [11]
121st 'Shahid Faroozandeh' Commando Brigade, Tabriz [12]
221st 'Shahid Khosrow Tash' Infantry Brigade, Maragheh [13]
321st Infantry Brigade, Marand
40th Infantry Brigade, Sarab [suspected association]
- 28th Infantry Division Operations HQ, Kurdistan [15] [16] [17] [18]
Commander: BG2 Kiomars Sharafi [20]
Associated Units: [21] [22]
128th 'Shahid Nosratzad' Infantry Brigade, Sandandaj
228th 'Shahid Ibrahim Sabr' Infantry Brigade, Saqqez [23]
328th Infantry Brigade, Marivan 
71st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, near Sarpol-e Zahab [suspected association, alternately affiliated with Western Regional Ops HQ]

- 64th Infantry Division Operations HQ, Orumiyeh [24]
Commander: BG/BG2 Mehbub Sarbush
Associated Units:
164th 'Shahid Hashemi' Infantry Brigade, Orumiyeh [25]
264th Infantry Brigade, Salmas 
364th 'Shahid Ali Nasirzadeh' Infantry Brigade, Mahabad 

- 36th Armored Brigade, Miyaneh

- 25th Commando Brigade, Pasveh

- 11th Artillery Group, Maragheh

- 4th Region Support [Logistics], Maragheh [26]

- Army Aviation Base [unconfirmed] [27]
Associated units include rotary wing aviation (assault and attack squadrons), and (a) UAV Group 

- Hospital 522, Tabriz [28]

Appendix - Staff IMINT:

Works Cited:

[1] Iran's Disappearing Divisions - The 21st Infantry Division. 06/08/13. The Arkenstone
[2] New Commander of the 21st Division Announced. 12/22/13. Defa Press.
[2 1/2]Rapid Reaction, the Focus of Future Wars: Evaluation of NEZAJA rapid reaction Forces from the Sacred Defense to the Samen Plan. AJA. 02/25/2013
[3] Ideology and Belief of Iran's Army is the Base of Velayat-e Faqih.10/28/13. Tasnim News.
[4] One Brigade from the 21st ID Became Independent. 02/20/13. Tabriz IRIB.
[5] Independence Ceremony for the 3rd Brigade, 64th Division, Held in Mahabad. 02/20/13 Rasht IRNA.
[6] 200 'Dehiyeh Fajr' Programs Held in Qazvin. 01/29/14. Fars News.
[7] Martyrs Are Not of This Earth. 05/21/13. Qazvin IRNA.
[8] Army Headquarters Shooting Championship. 10/23/13. Orumiyeh IRIB.
[9] ibid Tabriz IRIB, 02/20/13
[10] Amir Birang Retires / BG Najafi the New Commander of the 21st Division. 12/21/13. Tabriz Bidar.
[11] ibid The Arkenstone, 06/08/13
[12] ibid Tabriz IRIB, 02/20/13
[13] 2nd Brigade of the 21st Division Become Independent. 11/08/11. Fars News.
[14] Original source now defunct. Marand Daily.
[15] Ceremony for the Commander of the Army's Northwest Tactical HQ Division Held. 05/29/11. Reselat News.
[16] 28th Division Converted to Operations HQ. 02/19/13. Fars News.
[17] Army Day Celebration Held in Sanandaj. 04/18/13. Kurd Press.
[18] ibid Fars News, 02/19/13
[19] 28th Division at the Height of Readiness / Respond to All Threats. 04/11/12. Fars News.
[20] 28th Division Commander Introduced. 11/19/13. Tasnim News.
[21] ibid Fars News, 02/19/13
[22] Iran's Disappearing Divisions continued - the 28th Infantry Division. 04/12/13. The Arkenstone.
[23] 128th Brigade Deployed. Sanandaj IRNA. [defunct]
[24] The Heroism of Soldiers from the Iran-Iraq War is the most Precious Part of our Military History. 01/09/14. IRNA.
[25] [NA] 05/25/13. Emdad.
[26], [27] and [28] No specific references exist linking any of the mentioned elements (army aviation, logistics, medical) to this new headquarters. Their presence is indicated by context. References, in the context of other regional HQs, indicate IRIAA squadrons and groups are subordinated to these HQs. Also, the description of these new HQs (link, P2) notes that each HQ has its own medical and support facilities, suggesting the pre-existing units (ex: hospital 422 and region 4 support base) are similarly subordinate.


  1. Another great article! I have most of the sites that you mentioned but went looking for the couple I am still missing.

    1. The closest site about 6 miles south of QUSHCHI for 41st IB that I could find is this one:,44.996095&spn=0.017116,0.025513&t=h&z=16

    Looks like an older style layout for Iranian military bases.

    2. Found 2 military sites for 328th IB in MARIVAN:
    Old location?:,46.173247&spn=0.004414,0.006378&t=h&z=18
    New location?:,46.202037&spn=0.008827,0.012757&t=h&z=17

    3. Location for 128th IB in SANANDAJ?,46.977046&spn=0.008849,0.012757&t=h&z=17

    I am still looking for 25th Commando Brigade near PAVEH.

  2. 1) I'm pretty sure that the site you linked to is indeed the brigade's HQ. It should be called the: "Shahid Abshenasan Garrison" (sp?). Its semi-radial layout is very similar to the nearby basic-training garrison in Ajabshir (Lat: 37.492190° Long: 45.924982°), and other regional Army bases. I think you're right to suggest they're older bases.

    One interesting note I would point out would be the M-47 tanks seen in the 06/2003 and 07/2009 imagery, in one of the south-west motor-pools.

    [4] The 25th brigade garrison can be found at 36.813896°, 45.278281° . Note that it has the same radial pattern observed above.