Military elite

Napoleon reviewing the Guard during the Battle of Jena, October 14, 1806

Elite military units are units that require per definition a much higher standard of competency on its personal in comparison to regular units, therefore elite units are often tasked with more difficult tasks, whether it be highly specialised tasks such as operations deep behind enemy lines or less specialised tasks like being deployed at more fiercer points of enemy resistance.

Politically elite military units

Saddam Hussein talks with Republican Guard officers in Baghdad in 2003.[1]

Historically many elite forces have been created and maintained as much for political reasons as for military ones. The leaders feel they need something more politically reliable than ordinary units and create elite units, hoping that the privileges, the extra political indoctrination that such elite forces are typically given and the pride in belonging to an elite will make them more loyal. The German Waffen-SS is an atypical example of such a force evolving as it did into a war fighting force.

The following description of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Pásdárán, can be seen as typical of the formation, evolution and continued raison d'Êtres of such organizations:[2]

...From the beginning of the new Islamic regime, the Pasdaran functioned as a corps of the faithful. Its role in national security evolved from securing the regime and eliminating opposition forces to becoming a branch of the military establishment...[and its] independent military power acted as a check on any possible coup attempts by the armed forces....

....the Pasdaran, under the guidance of such clerics as Lahuti and Hashemi-Rafsanjani, was also "to act as the eyes and ears of the Islamic Revolution" and "as a special task force of the Imam Khomeini to crush any counterrevolutionary activities within the government or any political usurper against the Islamic Government." Over the years the IRP's leadership used the Pasdaran to eliminate opposition figures and to enhance its own position.


  1. "Republican Guard gets last chance against U.S. forces". Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  2. Library of Congress Country Studies, Iran, Special and Irregular Armed Forces
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