Royal Jordanian Land Force

Royal Jordanian Land Force

Royal Jordanian Land Force is part of the Jordanian Armed forces (JAF).

Historical Background

On June 10, 1916 Sherif Hussien Bin Ali prince of Mecca, had officially declared the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire for ridding Arab nations from the Turkish rule that had lasted about four centuries.

On November 21, 1920 Prince Abdullah Bin Al-Hussien (later King) arrived to Ma'an where he expressed his resolution to drive out the Turkish forces from Syria. Later, on December 5, 1920 he proclaimed himself as deputy king in Syria and appealed to members of the Al-Faissali army to join his forces in Ma'an. His calls had received much attention in the Arab world as several prominent Arab nationalists and other Arab princes joined his campaign which later formed the embryonic force of the Arab legion.

When Prince Abdullah came to power in the Emirate of Trans-Jordan at that time Jordan Armed Forces included:

*Cavalry (Darak) force of 400 men.
*A mobile (mainly cavalry) force of 150 men.
*A regular Army battalion of some 200 infantrymen.
*A camelry of 100 men.
*An Arab force, which was probably the battalion that had accompanied prince Abdullah to Amman from Ma'an.

Roles of Military Formations in Jordan from the Foundation of the Emirate until the 1948 Arab-Israeli War:

a. Transjordan Frontier Force: It had played an important role for the United Kingdom during World War II as it provided protection for British lines of communication extending from Iraq to Russia. It also took part in the fighting against the French forces in Syria.

b. The Arab Legion: - It was mainly tasked during World War II with maintaining order and law in the country.

Moreover, it extended support to British Forces engaged in military actions in Syria, Iraq and Palestine. A military detachment of this force had participated in the Victory Day ceremonies in London on June 8, 1946 , and the victory festival of Allied Forces in Jerusalem.

c. The Desert Force (Al-Badia Force): Its main task was to guard Jordan's borders with neighboring Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as to provide protection for the petroleum pipelines of the Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC). Besides that, it participated in the campaigns of Syria and Iraq during World War II.


Pre-1948 War

This army started with an infantry company, cavalry company, machine guns unit, signal section and military band. In 1923 , The total number of the army did not exceed 750 men who were combined under the command supervision of British Captain Frederick Gerard Peake.

During 1930, the legions strength was expanded to approximately 11,000. In 1931, a camel-mounted desert mobile force was organized under the command of John Bagot Glubb to maintain security and order.

This organization attracted numerous Bedouin volunteers. In 1933 the first mechanized force was formed. This element consisted of three vehicles and 120 men including the camel-mounted desert mobile force. It undertook the responsibility of maintaining security, preventing the raids among the tribal groups and deterring the raids from the outside.

By the eve of World War II, the legion had been expanded to a force of about 1600 men, This legion took part in operations in Syria during this war. Independent companies were established in addition to a regular battalion which was grown to become later the 1st Brigade.

In 1942 the 2nd battalion was formed, to later become the 2nd Brigade. The army continued its expansion in number and equipment.

1948 - 1967 War

In 1948, it consisted of two brigades, two garrisons and fourth battalions was increased to become six battalions. At this time the army consisted of infantry division, artillery brigade, mortar battery, artillery battery, engineer and signal battalion and field aid unit.

King Hussein spared no pains at all to improve the army in terms of cadre and equipment, and in the early 1956 dismissed Glubb and Arab commanders assumed leadership posts in the army, most notably Habis Al-Majali.

In 1957, His Majesty King Hussein ordered to establish the 4th infantry brigade and another field artillery. In 1958, the heavy artillery was entered, In the same year the armor brigade was recognized to become an armor division and in 1961 it become the armor corps. During this period the 40th bridge, 60th brigade and the royal guard brigade were established.

In 1965, the army achieved another advancement when His Majesty King Hussein ordered to form five infantry brigades. The army was divided into two fronts: Western front and Eastern front, ten infantry battalions were concentrated on both fronts.

In 1967 , a new armor brigade was established. the artillery brigade was recognized to be consisted of three field artillery battalions and anti-aircraft battalion.

1967 - 1973 War

After the 1967 war, the army was rearmed.

In 1968, the army attacked Israeli troops that had entered Jordanian territory in pursuit of Palestinian guerrillas Al-Karameh battle. Palestinians claim a victory just for resisting Israeli troops; the Jordanians say they forced the Israelis back; the Israelis say they pulled back after hitting the Palestinians at which time they were bombed by the Jordanians.

In the 1973 war, the 40th armor brigade was sent to the Syrian front and played a significant role in the fighting.


The Role of Jordan Arab Legion in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

Upon the announcement of the UN partition plan for Palestine and after the disclosure of the British decision to leave Palestine on May 15,1948, both warring sides (the Arabs and the Jews) began to make their military preparations for a forthcoming military confrontation both believed was inevitable.

In May 1948 the Arab countries decided to send their forces to assist the Palestinians. The Arab Legion entered Palestine with other Arab Forces on May 15, 1948 using the Allenby (King Hussein) bridge as they were advancing to cover the approaches from Jenin, in the north to Alaffoula and from Al-Majame'a bridge on the Jordan River to Bissan Alaffoula.

Units of the Arab Legion were engaged in several battles with the Jewish forces including the following:
* Battles of Beit NabalaDecember 14, 1947
* Battle of HaifaFebruary 9, 1948
* Battle of prophet Jacob settlement- April 18, 1948
* Battle of Gaisher settlement in late April 1948
* Battle of Kfar Aitsion 7-13 May 1948.

1956 Battles

On September 11, an Israeli force infiltrated to the Jordanian territories in , Al-Rahwa, Hebron sector, and attacked the police station there. After long clashes with a Jordanian unit from the Desert Guards, the Israeli force was forced to withdraw repulsed.

On October 10,1956 an enemy force, estimated at a motorized infantry brigade, supported by medium-range artillery and 10 combat aircraft, attacked the Arab towns of Hubla, Al-Nabi Illias and Azroun. The assaulting troops fought the Arab legion west of Al-Nabi Illias and were forced to withdraw to Qalqilia hills.

Participation in Kuwait

When Kuwait declared its independence on June 19, 1961, the Iraqi government announced that Kuwait is an integral part of its national territories. Accordingly, the Arab league formed the Arab emergency force to protect Kuwait with the participation of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Tunisia. The Jordanian participation included an infantry battalion reinforced by an anti-aircraft platoon and returned home on December 13,1963.

ammu Battle 1966

In November 13,1966 the Israeli Forces raided the Jordanian village of Sammu (in the Muhafazat of Hebron) with an infantry brigade reinforced by two tank battalions and supported by artillery and combat aircraft. After a round of a severe fighting with Jordanian Army units, the Israeli forces withdrew. Although the Israeli forces were pushed back, the Jordanian army suffered heavy losses.

Arab - Israeli war: June 1967

Believing that Israel was a becoming more of a threat Egypt declared a state of emergency and started to concentrate its forces in Sinai desert. In addition to that Jordan signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt. Consequently, Israel ordered the full mobilization of its forces on May 25,1967. As a result the Arab Jordan Army was placed under a maximum alert.

Operational Strengths Of Opposing Forces on the Jordanian Front

* Arab Forces
**Jordan Armed Forces (JAF): several infantry brigades, 2 Armored brigades and 20 operational combat aircraft, distributed in defensive positions in both western and eastern fronts.
**Iraq: 2 infantry brigades,1 mechanized brigade, 1 armored brigade, and 34 aircraft.
**Syria: one infantry brigade entered the Jordanian borders on June 7, and left on June 9, 1967 without being involved in any military actions.
**Saudi Arabia: one infantry brigade and an armored company which arrived to Al-Modawara border crossing point on march 21, 1968.
**Egypt: 2 Ranger battalions arrived in Jordan on June 3, 1967. Their primary mission was to destroy six Israeli airfields. Due to their late entry to the occupied territories they could not accomplish their mission.

* Israeli forces opposing the Jordanian front included 4 infantry brigades, 3 mechanized brigades, 2 paratroop brigades, 2 armored brigades with their full standard support elements and 286 different types of combat aircraft. When the military operations were over on both Egyptian and Syrian fronts, Israel redeployed a part of its forces from these fronts to the Jordanian front.

cenario of military operation

At 0730 hrs. on June 5, 1967 the Israelis surprised the Arab states with a series of continuous air strikes directed at Arab airfields. As a result most of the Arab air force was neutralized. The estimate of Israeli causalities on the Jordanian front during the land fighting includes 500 killed and 2400 wounded.

The Attrition War 1967-1970

Daily clashes continued on the Jordanian Front after 1967 war until mid 1970s. the most famous one was the Karameh battle.

Karameh battle

1968 Israeli forces crossed the border to the town of Karameh. The Jordanian army mobilized and a battle broke out between the Jordanian army and the IDF. The Israeli forces retreated after a heavy bombardment

Black September

In September 1970, King Hussein moved to quash an attempt by armed Palestinian insurgents to overthrow his monarchy. The violence resulted in casualties on both sides, but limited civilian casualties on both sides despite claims by some propagandists to the effect of genocide in the Palestinian refugue camps. Armed conflict lasted until July 1971 ending with a general pardon for Palestinian insurgent leaders at the Cairo summit and members. Most were released but quickly fled to Lebanon. September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history.


The present day Jordanian Armed forces are equipped with mainly Western (US and British) supplied weapons. This includes F-16 fighters with up to 55 (ex-US, Belgian and Dutch) in RJAF service, starting from 16 in 1997 (all ex-USAF aircraft sourced from AMARAC) equipped with the AIM-120C5 'AMRAAM' and having been upgraded by TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) to MLU standards to attain commonality with ex-Belgian/ex-Dutch aircraft. Jordan retains the Mirage F1CJ/EJ and has taken in up to six ex-Spanish Air Force aircraft, and believed to have been originally sourced from Qatar. The F-5 is being gradually replaced and will most likely be completely phased out by 2010. Although common press reports suggest that Jordan wanted 70-80 F-16s, but is likely to retain the Mirage F1 for some years to come rather than standardise on a single fighter type.

No major requirement exists to replace the transport fleet of six C-130H, but two smaller CASA/EADS C-295 have been procured from Spain and two IL-76MF have been ordered from Russia. The RJAF plays a critical role in aid and relief operations, during 2006, RJAF aircraft flew several missions with relief supplies to Lebanon and contributed a field hospital inside the Lebanese capital. Royal Jordanian Army Engineers also carried out numerous operations to destroy unexploded and time bombs dropped by Israeli forces, including land-mines.

Local air defence comes under RJAF command and consists of the HAWK and Sa-8 an Sa-9 while some ZSU-23-4SP are also in service, however, these are limited to point-defence of air fields where RJAF fighters generally work in coordination with GCI to cover fighter attacks. The RJAF maintains excellent low level coverage and continues fighter alerts are frequently tested. In 2003 Jordan took delivery of a PAC-3 PATRIOT from the US, that has since been withdrawn from service following the temporary lease. New initiatives include acquisition of systems to replace the air defence systems.

The Jordan Arab Army is equipped with a mix of British and American tanks, including the Challenger 1 and M-60A1/A3. The older Chieftain and M-48A5 series remain in limited service, but may be phased out as the Challenger and M-60A1/A3 undergo further upgrades. Current projects carried out by KADDB (King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau) include integration of the Phoenix digital fire and control system and a revised turret for the M-60A1/A3 (featuring ERA of unknown origin) along RUAG L50/52 smooth-bore CG (Compact Gun) to replace the rifled 120mm L15A1 & 105mm L7/M68 gun of the Challenger 1 & M-60A1/A3 respectively. The projects have also been offered for export and existing M-60 users such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia have shown interest in KADDB. The M113 remains a standard APC and are being supplanted by local vehicles, including the Temsah (Crocodile). 20-24 AH-1F 'Cobra' equip Army aviation and are equipped with TOW II ATGW and were initially incapable of night-time operations but have since been upgraded.

Personal equipment includes the US-supplied M-16 rifles (mainly A1/A2 and some A3), M-4A1 & the Taiwanese TF86 (M4A1 equivalent) carbines and Taiwanese TF56, Browning HP automatic pistols, however, some units utilise the relatively uncommon Berreta Italian SS70/223 (the standard carbine of the Public Security Department and Police Force). The M-60 and FN-MAG are carried as the GPMG. The Badia forces generally carry the M-14 on camel back.

Due to the critical position of Jordan (sandwiched between Iraq, Saudi-Arabia and Israel, Jordan maintains a strong defensive army, with three control zones, the north army command, the Central Command and the South Command, for which each command is controlled by its Field General, but all of the commands are under the King of Jordan's control. Investment in equipment and upgrades, put the Arab Legion on tactical parity with many neighbours despite lacking the depth in numbers.

Training of special forces including CTW (Counter Terrorist Warfare) units of numerous countries, including former Soviet Republics, Bosnian and Iraqi units as well as some notable allies including the US and UK. The Jordanian military also contributes to the UN peacekeeping missions worldwide, most notably in Africa, Afghanistan, Former Soviet Union & previous Croatia & Bosnia, and even as afar as Haiti and East Timor. Those on UN Peace-keeping and Peace-enforcing missions. To this purpose, the newly acquired IL-76MF would provide the Jordanian Armed Forces with longer global reach.


*Bofors 40 mm gun

References and links

*Jordanian Armed Forces
*Royal Navy Force
*Royal Jordanian Air Force
*Royal Special Forces
*His Majesty's Special Security
*Jordanian Land Force Insignia
*Jordanian military ranks
*Royal maintenance corp

External links

* [ index of Jordan's camouflage]
* [ Jordanian Armed Forces] Ar icon

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