The armed forces comprise the Revolutionary Guard and the regular forces. The two bodies are under a joint general command. All leading army and Revolutionary Guard commanders are appointed by the Supreme Leader and are answerable only to him.
The Revolutionary Guard was formed after the revolution to protect the new leaders and institutions and fight those opposing the revolution. After the Iraqi invasion in 1980, the Revolutionary Guard gradually strengthened its position and developed its land, air and sea forces to become a fully-fledged army with enormous influence across the country. It has a powerful presence in other institutions including the ministry of intelligence and the police force, and controls volunteer militias with branches in every town.