Jordanian Armed Forces

The Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) (Arabic: القوات المسلحة الأردنية, Al-Quwat Al-Musallaha Al-Urduniyya), also referred to as the Arab Army (Arabic: الجيش العربي, Al-Jaysh Al-Arabi), 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 Supreme Commander of the Jordanian Armed Forces. The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is Major General Yousef Huneiti, who is also the King's military adviser.[1]

Jordanian Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة الأردنية
Emblem of the Jordanian Armed Forces
Founded22 October 1920
Current form1 March 1956
Service branches Royal Jordanian Army
 Royal Jordanian Navy
 Royal Jordanian Air Force
Commander-in-chiefField Marshal King Abdullah II
Minister of DefenceOmar Razzaz
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StaffMajor General Yousef Huneiti
Military age18–49 years old
ConscriptionSuspended indefinitely in 1992; all members are regular volunteers.
Active personnel110,700 (ranked 44th)
Reserve personnel60,000 Land Forces, 5,000 Joint (2013 est.)
Budget$2.5b (2015 est.)
Percent of GDP7% (2015 est.)
Domestic suppliersKADDB
Foreign suppliers United States
 United Kingdom
 South Korea
Annual imports$300 million
Annual exports$72 million
Related articles
HistoryArab–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)
RanksJordanian military ranks

The first organized army in Jordan was established on 22 October 1920, and was named the "Mobile Force". At the time it only had 150 men in its ranks. On its third anniversary in 1923, the force was renamed the Arab Legion, consisting of 1,000 men. By the time Jordan became an independent state in 1946, the Arab Legion numbered some 8,000 soldiers in 3 mechanized regiments. In 1956, King Hussein dismissed all British generals and changed the name of the Legion into the "Jordanian Arab Army" in what became known as the Arabization of the Jordanian Army command.

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, resulting in mixed success; they included the Retribution operations, the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur 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 belligerency between the two countries.[2]

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


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-1,000-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 Arabization of the Jordanian Army command (Arabic: تعريب قيادة الجيش العربي‎, Ta'reeb Qiyadat Al-Jaysh Al-Arabi) saw the dismissal of senior British officers commanding the Arab Legion by King Hussein and the subsequent renaming of the Legion into the Jordanian Armed Forces on 1 March 1956. Glubb Pasha, the Arab Legion's British commander, was replaced with Major General Radi Annab, who became the first Arab commander of the Arab Legion. Hussein's intentions to Arabize the Army command were to replace British officers with Jordanian officers, assert political independence from Britain, and improve relations with neighboring Arab states that viewed the British with suspicion. An annual celebration is held on 1 March in Jordan to mark the historic event.

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

1920–1947Pre-1948 War1948 WarBattles – 1956Kuwait – 1963
Sammu Battle – 1966Six-Day War – 19671967–1973After 19772000–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

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]

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.[8]

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.[8] 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,[9] and is considered one of the most professional in the Arab world.[10] Their mission is to contribute to the safeguarding of the country. The agency is known for its extensive activity in Jordan and throughout the Middle East, as well as its cooperation with American, British intelligence by which the directorate can protect Jordan and the Jordanian people. Through a complex spying system, it plays a central role in preserving stability in the nation.[11]

Defense industry

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.[12] Jordan is a regional and international provider of advanced military goods and services.[13]

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.[14]


The Jordanian Armed Forces has been a strong supporter and participant of UN peacekeeping missions.[15][16][17][18] Jordan ranks among the highest internationally in taking part in UN peacekeeping missions.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22][23]

International assistance

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.[24][25]

On 24 November 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.[26][27]

=== Police and military training ===The Jordanians have helped Iraqis by providing them with military and police training as well as donating military and police equipment.[25] The armed forces trained tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and policemen after the U.S.-led invasion.[28][29][25]

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.[30]


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