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Jordan

 
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Jordan

Army

[PDF]

Figure 15. Major Military Installations, 1988

The 74,000 troops of the Jordan Arab Army were organized into two armored divisions, two mechanized divisions, two independent brigades, and sixteen independent artillery battalions. After the June 1967 War, Hussein and his government undertook a major rebuilding and modernization program for the army. As of 1989, it was still considered to be the best trained of all the Arab armies and was larger and better equipped than at any time in its existence. Nevertheless, it had long been outstripped in equipment by the Israeli and Syrian armies, which had been expanded and re-equipped with modern armor and missile systems after the October 1973 War.

The basic organization was pyramidal, with three brigades to a division and three battalions in each brigade. Each of the two armored divisions consisted of two tank brigades and one mechanized infantry brigade. The two mechanized divisions were made up of two mechanized infantry brigades and one tank brigade. The independent brigades consisted of a Royal Guards Brigade and a Special Forces Brigade, the latter made up of three airborne battalions. Some significant units were missing from each division, and the weapons inventory of each division was closer to that of a reinforced brigade. For economy, the divisions did not have fully integrated organic logistics and support units but depended on main bases for supplies. Although the ratio of combat to support strength was favorable, the capability of independent brigades to operate at a distance from these bases was seriously impaired.

The bulk of the ground forces were concentrated in the north, at base complexes at Amman and Az Zarqa and at other installations in the vicinity of Irbid and Al Mafraq. Smaller bases were at Maan and Al Aqabah to the south (see fig. 15). No Jordanian forces were deployed in the Jordan River valley, where they would have been exposed to Israeli air power and artillery. They were instead emplaced on the heights above the valley where they could obstruct enemy movement up the routes to the central plateau leading to the main cities. The most forward troop dispositions were at Umm Qays overlooking the Jordan River in the northwest corner of the country to counter any potential Israeli flanking movement around the strong Syrian defenses concentrated in the Golan Heights.

In spite of years of American training, British military concepts continued to influence individual units. British forms of organization were particularly evident in administration, maintenance, and many technical units. The weapons inventory was predominantly of United States and British origin. Jordan's tank force consisted of the United States M-60 model, together with its own conversion of the obsolete British Centurion, known as the Tarik, and an improved version of the British Chieftain called the Khalid. Armored personnel carriers were the familiar United States M-113 model. In 1988 Jordan benefited from a substantial gift of Chieftain and Scorpion tanks and M-113s captured by Iraq from Iran, but it was not known whether the equipment could be introduced into the armored inventory without extensive repair or reconditioning. The artillery battalions were equipped by the United States with guns ranging from 105mm to 203mm, both towed and self-propelled (see table 15, Appendix).

The ground forces were considered to be insufficiently protected from attack from the air, although efforts were being made to overcome the problem by the introduction of Soviet air defense systems. When the United States refused to replace obsolete forward air defense weapons, Jordan turned to the Soviet Union for help in 1981. Initial Soviet deliveries consisted of the SA-8 truck-mounted surface-to-air missile (SAM) with a range of between ten and fourteen kilometers and the ZSU-23 radar-controlled gun mounted on a lightly armored carriage. Both weapons had proved vulnerable to suppression measures by Israel in fighting against Syria. In spite of this, additional SA-8s were acquired in 1984, together with infantry SAMs, the shoulder-fired SA-7, and the SA-9. In 1985 the SA-13 and SA-14 were purchased as successors to the SA-9 and SA-7, respectively. Separate air defense brigades (actually, battalion size) were being equipped with the larger Soviet SAMs to be attached as needed to ground formations to provide close, mobile tactical air defense.

Antitank defense was based on the TOW (tube-launched, optically- sighted, wire-guided) antitank missile and the man-portable Dragon system, both from the United States, together with more recent acquisition of the Apilas rocket launcher from France. The LAW-80 antitank missile was acquired from Britain in 1987 to replace the Dragon. In 1985 the air force began taking delivery of twenty-four Cobra AH-1S helicopters equipped with TOW missiles; these were eventually to be transferred to the army.

The naval element of the armed forces, although designated the Royal Jordanian Navy, remained an integral part of the army. Performing essentially a coast guard mission, it had 300 officers and men based at Al Aqabah, the country's only port, with access to the Red Sea. The navy operated five coastal patrol boats of United States manufacture armed with light machine guns. The navy assisted in the maintenance of harbor security, operating in conjunction with customs and immigration personnel to ensure the enforcement of the country's laws and regulations. In late 1987, three larger craft of ninety-five tons each were ordered from Britain. When introduced, each would have a crew of sixteen and would be armed with 20mm and 30mm guns. Israeli units at the adjacent Israeli naval facility at Elat similarly consisted of small, lightly-armed patrol boats.

Data as of December 1989


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