How Does Iran’s Military Compare to America’s?

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With President Donald Trump poised to kill the Iran nuclear deal, some observers are wondering whether conflict could break out between the two countries.  

For now, it appears unlikely that Washington and Tehran will enter into direct conflict in the near future. But the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iran’s numerous proxy forces across the Middle East mean an emboldened Iran. The country that feels slighted by the international community would have ample opportunity to enter into conflict with U.S. allies in the region, a fact that could ultimately pull U.S. troops into a confrontation with Iran.

In reality, the U.S. has the most well-resourced military in the world, and also boasts of more active manpower than Iran. According to some estimates, the U.S. military has around 1.3 million active military personnel, while Iran has just 550,000. Nevertheless, the two countries have a similarly sized military if they call up all reserves.

The Iranian population, which is estimated around 80 million people, is smaller than that of the U.S., which has a population of over 300 million.

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The U.S. defense budget is around 30 times larger than Iran’s. The U.S. military has significantly more tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery, and the U.S. air force dwarfs that of Iran.

According to Global Fire Power, which ranks military might around the world, the U.S. has the most powerful military while Iran is ranked at number 13 out of 136 countries.

Still, Iran’s military is larger than that of regional U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, even though Riyadh’s military budget is larger. Iran’s military consists of two parts: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Artesh regular military. The Artesh has an estimated 350,000 active-duty soldiers and controls the country’s conventional weapons, like the air force and the navy. The Revolutionary Guard, meanwhile, has an estimated 125,000 personnel and focuses on espionage, among other activities.  

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