On January 23, a top Iranian military official called on the ground forces of the country’s regular army to boost their combat readiness and upgrade its military and technological capabilities. “We must not neglect for a moment to think about enhancing the country’s defensive power,” Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, told a gathering of military commanders in Tehran. “In addition to being fully prepared, the Army’s ground forces must constantly develop its defensive power and capabilities, and with new achievements in the military field, be ready to defend the Islamic country’s [Iran’s] borders,” he stressed.
Separately, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has begun a four-day military exercise in western Iran. IRGC Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said that the key objectives of the military drills, code-named Imam Ali, were to develop new methods of warfare, and boost planning and combat and intelligence readiness of the IRGC’s ground forces. The military exercises will be conducted by the Najaf-e Ashraf base, the IRGC’s 8th Armored Division, which has been actively involved in the Syrian war over the past five years.
While Iran has significantly reduced its nuclear enrichment work since it signed an agreement with world powers in July 2015, it has recently put increased emphasis on developing its military power, particularly its naval and missile capabilities. Earlier this month, the Iranian parliament passed a bill that requires the government to spend at least five percent of the public budget on the development of the country’s defense capabilities.