The Royal Jordanian Land Force
is part of the
Jordanian Armed Forces
On 10 June
1916 Sherif Hussien Bin Ali
prince of Mecca, had
officially declared the Great Arab
Revolt against the Ottoman Empire
to rid Arab nations from the Turkish rule that
had lasted about four centuries.
November 1920 Prince Abdullah Bin Al-Hussien (later King)
arrived to Ma'an where he
expressed his resolution to drive out the Turkish forces from
Later, on 5 December 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
and other Arab
princes joined his campaign which later formed the embryonic force
of the Arab legion.
Prince Abdullah came to power in the Emirate
of Trans-Jordan at that time the Jordanian Armed Forces
- 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.
Arab force, which was probably the battalion that had accompanied
prince Abdullah to Amman from
Roles of Military Formations in Jordan from the Foundation of the
Emirate until the 1948
Frontier Force: It had played an important role for the
Kingdom during World War II as
it provided protection for British lines of communication extending
from Iraq to Russia.
took part in the fighting against the French forces in
b. The Arab Legion
: - It was mainly
tasked during World War II with maintaining order and law in the
Moreover, it extended support to British Forces engaged in military
actions in Syria, Iraq and Palestine
detachment of this force had participated in the Victory Day ceremonies in London on 8 June
1946, and the victory festival of Allied Forces in Jerusalem.
c. The Desert Force
AKA Desert Patrol, 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
the Iraqi Petroleum Company
(IPC). Besides that, it participated in the campaigns of Syria and
Iraq during World War II.
This army started with an infantry company
cavalry company, machine guns unit
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 legion
's 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
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
In 1942 the 2nd battalion was formed, to later become the 2nd
Brigade. The army continued its expansion in number and
1948 - 1967 War
In 1948, it consisted of two brigades
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
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
Brigade, 60th Brigade and the royal guard brigade were
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
In the 1973 war, the 40th Armoured 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
Upon the announcement of the UN partition plan
for Palestine and
after the disclosure of the British decision to leave Palestine on
15 May,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 15 May, 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
Units of the Arab Legion were engaged in several battles with the
Jewish forces including the following:
On 11 September, an Israeli force infiltrated 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
On 10 October, 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
Kuwait declared its
independence on 19 June 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
Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and
The Jordanian participation included an
infantry battalion reinforced by an anti-aircraft platoon and
returned home on 13 December, 1963.
Sammu Battle 1966
In 13 November, 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
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 25 May, 1967. As a result the Arab
Jordan Army was placed under a maximum alert.
Operational Strengths Of Opposing Forces on the Jordanian
- 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 7
June, and left on 9 June 1967 without being involved in any
- Saudi Arabia: one infantry brigade and an armored company which
arrived to Al-Modawara border crossing point on 21 March 1968.
- Egypt: 2 Ranger battalions arrived in Jordan on 3 June 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.
Scenario of military operation
At 0730 hrs. on 5 June 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 Battle of
Karameh In 1968 Israeli
forces crossed the border and advanced on the town of
The Jordanian army mobilized and a battle broke out
between the Jordanian army and the IDF. The Israeli forces
retreated after a heavy bombardment.
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.
Jordanian troops in a military parade in Amman
The present day Jordanian Army is equipped with mainly Western (US
and British) supplied weapons.
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 120 mm
L15A1 & 105 mm 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, an APC conversion of a Centurion
chassis). 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.
Earlier the Bofors 40 mm gun
Personal equipment includes the US-supplied M-16 rifles (mainly
A1/A2 and some A3), M-4A1, Taiwanese T65
assault rifles and T86
carbines, Browning HP automatic
pistols; however, some units utilise the relatively uncommon
Beretta 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
Status and Assessment Today
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
Jordanian Land Forces on tactical parity with many neighbours
despite lacking the depth in numbers. The Land Forces have a full
range of combat and combat supporting corps, including the Royal Maintenance Corps
Today's Jordanian military
are based on those of the British
, given Jordan's military heritage.
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, the former Soviet Union & previous Croatia &
Bosnia, and even as afar as Haiti and East
, which are on UN Peace-keeping and Peace-enforcing
Kenneth Pollack, a U.S. military analyst, wrote in c.2002 that
'from 1948 to 1956, the Arab Legion was far superior to any of the
other Arab militaries. In battle, it generally gave as good as it
got, and the Israelis considered it their most dangerous adversary.
However, after 1956, the Jordanian capabilities began to decline.
In 1967 they performed worse than in 1948, although the exceptional
performance of the 40th Armoured Brigade and a number of Israeli
mistakes helped disguise the deterioration somewhat. Thereafter
Jordanian capabilities continued to gradually erode.'