Jordanian Armed Forces

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Jordanian Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة الأردنية
Emblem of the Jordanian Armed Forces
Founded 22 October 1920
Current form 1 March 1956
Service branches 23px Royal Jordanian Army
Royal Jordanian Air Force
Royal Jordanian Navy
Headquarters Amman
Commander-in-chief Abdullah II of Jordan
Chief of Defence Abdullah Ensour
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mashal Al-Zaben
Military age 18–49 years old
Conscription Suspended indefinitely in 1992; all members are regular volunteers.
Active personnel 110,700 (ranked 44th)
Reserve personnel 60,000 Land Forces, 5,000 Joint (2013 est.)
Budget $2.5b (2015 est.)
Percent of GDP 7% (2015 est.)
Domestic suppliers 24px KADDB
Foreign suppliers  Argentina
 United States
 South Korea
 United Kingdom
 Saudi Arabia
Annual imports $300 million
Annual exports $72 million
Related articles
History Arab–Israeli War (1948-1949)
Retribution operations (1950s)
Six-Day War (1967)
War of Attrition (1967-1970)
Battle of Karameh (1968)
Black September (1970)
Yom Kippur War (1973)
Libyan Civil War (2011)
International military intervention against ISIL (2014-present)
2015 military intervention in Yemen (2015)
Ranks Jordanian military ranks

The Jordanian Armed Forces (القوات المسلحة الأردنية), also referred to as the Arab Army (الجيش العربي), are the military forces of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. They consist of the ground forces, air force, and navy and is under the direct control of the King of Jordan who is the Commander-in-Chief. The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is Lieutenant General Mashal Al-Zaben, who is also the King's military adviser.[1]

First organized army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Mobile Force", at the time it was 150 men strong. On its third anniversary in 1923, the force was renamed the Arab Legion, consisting of 1000 men. By the time Jordan became an independent state in 1946, Arab Legion numbered some 8,000 soldiers in 3 mechanized regiments. In 1956, all British generals were dismissed, and the name was finally changed into the Jordanian Army. The army fought in several wars and battles, mostly against Israel. In the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the capture of the West Bank by Jordan and the decisive Battles of Latrun, proved that the Arab Legion was the most effective army during the war. Several confrontations followed with Israel; Retribution operations, Six Day War, War of Attrition and Yom Kippor War. Jordan also had to face the PLO and the Syrian Army during the events of Black September. The signing of the Israel–Jordan peace treaty in 1994 ended the state of hostility between the two countries, and allowed them to resume normal functioning.[2]

It is today considered to be among the most professional in the region, and is seen as particularly well-trained and organized.[3]


Arab Revolt Tribal Cavalry – Tribes of Jordan and Arabia, c. 1918
Arab army during the Arab revolt of 1916 against the Ottoman Empire formed the nucleus of the Arab Legion.
Commander of the Arab Legion, Glubb Pasha in uniform. Amman, September 11, 1940.

The first organized army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Mobile Force", at the time it was 150 man strong under the command of the British Captain Frederick Peake. On its third anniversary, in October 1923, the now 1000 man force was renamed the Arab Legion.

In 1939, John Bagot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, became the Legion's commander, and continued in office until the dismissal of British officers in March 1956. On 1 April 1926, the Transjordan Frontier Force was formed, consisting of only 150 men and most of them were stationed along Transjordan's roads.

The Jordanian Armed Forces was formed on 1 March 1956 by renaming the Arab Legion. Then-King Hussein wanted at the time to distance himself from the British and disprove the contention of Arab nationalists that John Glubb, the Arab Legion's commander, was the actual ruler of Jordan. Glubb was dismissed on the same date and replaced with Maj.-Gen. Radi Annab, the first Arab commander of the Arab Legion.

Timeline of the history and development of the Jordanian Army and the Arab Legion:

1920–1947 Pre-1948 War 1948 War Battles – 1956 Kuwait – 1963
Sammu Battle – 1966 Six Day War – 1967 1967–1973 After 1977 2000–present

Structure and objectives

Main: Current Command Structure of the Jordanian Army
See also: Royal Jordanian Army, Royal Jordanian Air Force, Royal Naval Force

The army's organisational structure was traditionally based on two armoured divisions and two mechanized divisions. These have been transformed into a lighter, more mobile forces, based largely on a brigade structure and considered better capable of rapid reaction in emergencies. An armoured division has become the core element of a strategic reserve.[4][5]

The main objectives of the Jordanian Armed Forces are:

  1. Protect the Kingdom of Jordan borders from any invasion.
  2. Protect the people inside the Kingdom and their rights.
  3. Protect the King of Jordan.
Royal Jordanian Army Order of Battle (OrBat) 2013

Special Operations Forces

Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fighter pilots fly over Jordan October 19, 2009
Special Operation Forces at Shaheed Mwaffaq Air Base showing a KADDB manufactured Desert Iris vehicle, November 2010

Over the years, the development of the Royal Special Operations Forces has been particularly significant, enhancing the capability of the forces to react rapidly to threats to state security, as well as training special forces from the region and beyond.[6][7][8]

Jordan has embarked on the installation of a sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system which is expected to enhance interoperability between the armed services and also between Jordanian and coalition forces as well as improving Jordan's air defense system.[9]

In order to better cope with a range of potential threats, Jordan has been re-organizing its armed forces. There has been a greater emphasis on rapid reaction and special forces.[9] The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), founded in the mid-1990s, has been focusing on both internal security in support of the Middle East peace process and border security. In the latter role, JSOC gives particular attention to sophisticated smuggling operations on the Iraqi border and terrorist infiltration along the Syrian frontier. Jordanian forces also have a focus on the sensitive frontier along the East Bank of the Jordan River (the border shared with Israel).


The Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate (GID) is reportedly one of the most important intelligence agencies in the Middle East,[10] and is considered one of the most professional in the Arab world.[11] Their mission is to contribute to the safeguarding of the Kingdom under the Hashemite leadership of the King of Jordan, as well as protecting freedoms and preserving democracy in the country. In practice, the agency is notoriously known for its extensive activity in Jordan and throughout the Middle East, as well as its cooperation with American, British, and Israeli intelligence. Through a complex spying system, it plays a central role in preserving stability in the nation and monitoring seditious activity.[12]

Defense industry

FV107 Scimitar updated by KADDB in display at SOFEX 2006
Jordanian troops in a military parade in Amman, June 2007

Jordan is a recent entrant to the domestic defense industry with the establishment of King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) in 1999. The defense industrial initiative is intended to jumpstart industrialization across a range of sectors. With the Jordanian defense expenditures at 8.7% of GDP, the Jordanian authorities created the defense industry to utilize defense budget spending power and to assist in economic growth without placing additional demands on the national budget. Jordan also hosts SOFEX, the world's fastest growing and region's only special operations and homeland security exhibition and conference.[13] Jordan is a regional and international provider of advanced military goods and services.[14]

A KADDB Industrial Park was opened in September 2009 in Mafraq. It is an integral industrial free zone specialized in defense industries and vehicles and machinery manufacturing. By 2015, the park is expected to provide around 15,000 job opportunities whereas the investment volume is expected to reach JD500 million.[15]


The Jordanian Armed Forces has been a strong supporter and participant of UN peacekeeping missions.[16][17][18][19] Jordan ranks among the highest internationally in taking part in UN peacekeeping missions.[20] The size of the Jordanian participation in various areas of the United Nations peacekeeping troops and staff, hospital and international observers, is estimated to be 61,611 officers and men, starting in 1989 in Angola through the task of military observers and humanitarian security forces.[21] After France and the UK, Jordan was the largest contributor of troops to the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia, sending three battalions, or over three thousand troops, from 1993 to 1996.[22]

At the U.N. Copenhagen summit, Jordan was alone, out of more than 30 developing nations, in unveiling plans to help fight climate change, including upgrading its armed forces by 2020, an area usually overlooked in the global warming debate. The army will seek to upgrade engines and old vehicles and use energy saving technologies.[23][24]

International assistance

A Jordanian military doctor examines a child in Afghanistan, October 2009.
Hercules C-130H of the Royal Jordanian Air Force taxis for takeoff, July 2006.
A Jordanian M113 armored ambulance is offloaded at King Hussein Airport, September 1987.

In addition to providing domestic and border security for the country, the Jordanian Armed Forces have assumed a prominent regional and international role as a provider of humanitarian assistance and military training.

Medical services

Jordan has dispatched several field hospitals to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters across the world such as Iraq, the West Bank, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Congo, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Pakistan. The Kingdom's field hospitals have extended aid to some one million people in the West Bank and 55,000 in Lebanon.[25]

The country has committed nearly 600 health care practitioners to the medical assistance missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 50-bed Jordanian military hospital located in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, cares for more than 650 patients a day, providing critical health care for thousands of Afghans who suffered neglect at the hands of the Taliban regime.[26] More than 500,000 patients have been treated at the Jordanian military hospital in Afghanistan.[26]

In Iraq, a second Jordanian military hospital provides health services to Iraqis and serves as an ad hoc trauma center, treating patients wounded in terrorist attacks and moving them to Jordan or other locations. As of February 2006, more than 4 million people had been treated in Jordan's military hospital in Iraq, and Jordanian military general surgeons had performed 1,638 surgeries.[26]

On 24 Nov 2010, another Jordanian military field hospital (Gaza 11) arrived in the coastal territory of Gaza to replace (Gaza 10) whose tour of duty came to an end after treating 44,000 Palestinians and performing 720 minor and major surgeries since its inception in September 2010.[27][28]

Police and military training

Arabian Peninsula

For many years, Jordan has supplied Arab States of the Persian Gulf with advisers, mostly personnel in reserve status who had completed their active duty. A total of 565 army officers and 1,420 NCOs served in other Arab countries between 1970 and 1984. The loan of military personnel was regarded as a form of compensation to the Arab states in the Persian Gulf that have provided Jordan with subsidies over the years. Jordan also has acted as a consultant to these countries in matters such as weapons selection and organization of military forces.[29]

As of 1988, Jordanian personnel were serving in a training or operational capacity in Kuwait, North Yemen, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Many officers from these countries, the majority Saudi Arabs, were undergoing training in Jordan at Mutah University and the Jordanian Staff College. Between 1970 and 1984, more than 4,000 officers and 7,000 enlisted personnel from Arab states had attended military institutions in Jordan.[29]

Jordan has also supplied combat troops to assist Persian Gulf states confronting security threats. In 1975 Jordan deployed two squadrons of fighter aircraft and a Special Forces battalion to Oman at that country's request to help defeat an uprising supported by South Yemen.[29]


The Jordanians have helped Iraqis by providing them with military and police training as well as donating military and police equipment.[26] The armed forces trained tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and policemen after the U.S.-led invasion.[30]

Jordanians have donated 250 armored personnel carriers to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The vehicles consisted of 50 Ukrainian-built BTR-94 armored personnel carriers, 100 British Spartans, and 100 American-made M113A1 armored personnel carriers. Jordan also donated two C-130B Hercules transport aircraft to the Iraqi Air Force, as well as 16 UH-1H utility helicopters.[26] Jordanians have helped train Iraqi security forces by hosting Iraqi police and border-enforcement training in Jordan. Outside the Jordanian capital of Amman, the first all-female Iraqi army military police company was formed and trained by female Jordanian military personnel.[26] Royal Jordanian aircrews have trained some Iraqi air force pilots, and Jordanian noncommissioned officers helped train the Iraqi military's NCO corps in various locations in Iraq.[26]

Jordan has also begun training Libyan policemen as part of a programme to strengthen ties between the countries. The training programme is part of a wider plan to re-integrate 200,000 former rebel fighters into Libyan society.[31]



  4. Jane's Assessment of Armed forces (Jordan)
  5. Echoes from Jordan – Armed Forces
  6. Jordan Says It Trained 2,500 Afghan Special Forces | Global Research[dead link]
  7. AFP: Jordan trained 2,500 Afghan special forces: minister[dead link]
  8. Special Operations: Jordanian Commandos Show The Way
  9. 9.0 9.1
  11. In the desert, a secret Jordanian prison for terrorist detainees – US News and World Report[dead link]
  12. General Intelligence Directorate (Jordan)
  13. :: SOFEX Jordan::
  14. "KADDB Industrial Park". 9 October 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. ":: KADDB Industrial Park ::". Retrieved 22 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Gendarmerie Director, UN official discuss cooperation
  17. Peace Operation Training Center JOR
  18. [1] Archived July 27, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  19.[dead link]
  20. Troop and police contributors
  21. Jordan’s Peace-Keeping Forces
  22. al-Hussein, Abdullah II bin. Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, New York City: Viking Adult, 2011. ISBN 978-0-670-02171-0 pg 241
  23. Archived from the original on February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. [2] Archived October 13, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 "DefenseLink News Article: Jordanian Military Helps Its Neighbors". Retrieved 2010-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Jordanian military field hospital arrives in GazaJordan – Zawya[dead link]
  28. Jordanian military field hospital arrives in Gaza
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 MONGABAY – Jordan:Military Cooperation with Other Arab States
  30. The Daily Star – Jordan watches post-America Iraq very closely
  31. Jordan Trains Libyan Rebels

External links