The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی‎, translit. Sepâh-e Pâsdârân-e Enghelâb-e Eslâmi, lit. 'Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution' or Sepâh for short) is a branch of Iran's Armed Forces, founded after the Iranian Revolution on 22 April 1979[2] by order of Ayatollah Khomeini.[3] Whereas the Islamic Republic of Iran Army defends Iran's borders and maintains internal order, according to the Iranian constitution, the Revolutionary Guard (pasdaran) is intended to protect the country's Islamic republic system.[4] The Revolutionary Guards state that their role in protecting the Islamic system is preventing foreign interference as well as coups by the military or "deviant movements".[5]

The Revolutionary Guards have roughly 125,000 military personnel including ground, aerospace and naval forces. Its naval forces are now the primary forces tasked with operational control of the Persian Gulf.[6] It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia which has about 90,000 active personnel.[7][8] Its media arm is Sepah News.[9]

Since its origin as an ideologically driven militia, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution has taken a greater role in nearly every aspect of Iranian society. Its expanded social, political, military and economic role under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration—especially during the 2009 presidential election and post-election suppression of protest—has led many Western analysts to argue that its political power has surpassed even that of the Shia clerical system.[10][11][12][13]

The Chief Commander of the Guardians since 2007 is Mohammad Ali Jafari, who was preceded by Yahya Rahim Safavi from 1997.[14]

The IRGC is designated as a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United States, but not by the United Nations, the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, or Turkey.