Iranian Gendarmerie

Iranian Gendarmerie

Seal of the Islamic Republic of Iran Gendarmerie

Seal of the Iranian Imperial Gendarmerie
Agency overview
Formed 1910
Dissolved 1991
Superseding agency Law Enforcement Force of Islamic Republic of Iran
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency Iran
General nature
Specialist jurisdictions
  • Highways, roads, and-or traffic.
  • National border patrol, security, and integrity.
  • Coastal patrol, marine border protection, marine search and rescue.
  • Environment, parks, and-or heritage property.
  • Water ways and bodies and-or coastal areas.
  • Customs.
Operational structure

The Persian Gendarmerie, or Iranian Gendarmerie also called the Government Gendarmerie (Persian: ژاندارمری دولتی Žāndārmirī-ye Daulatī), was the first modern highway patrol and rural police force in Persia. A paramilitary force, it also played a significant part in politics from its establishment in 1910 during the Qajar dynasty until the advent of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1921. It continued to serve until the end of the Pahlavi era and was modernized into the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie.[1] Originally established as a constitutional army, the force employed Swedish officers in command of Iranian personnel to perform both traditional police duties and conduct military campaigns against tribal forces.[1] In 1991 the Iranian Gendarmerie was merged with other police forces to form the Law Enforcement Force of Islamic Republic of Iran.


Persian Central Government Gendarmerie
Jhāndārmeri-ye Dowlati

General Harald Hjalmarson in Persia, 1911
Active 1911-1920
Country Persia (Iran)
Allegiance to the Shah of Persia
Size 7,200
Patron Ahmad Shah Qajar
Colors light blue, grey and gold
Engagements Shiraz, Kazerun, Boroujerd, Soltanabad
Gen Jarl Hjalmarson

Throughout the nineteenth century military modernization was a constant preoccupation of Iranian reformers and the history of the Qajar period is peppered with attempts to create a standing army on the European model. As a neutral choice between Britain and Russia, the Persians would choose that Sweden would be the country given the task to secure their trade routes and unify the country. On 15 August 1911, the Swedish Major Harald Hjalmarson would be given the rank of General and put in command of the Persian Gendarmerie. Many other officers, often recruited from the Swedish aristocracy would now come to follow in Hjalmarson's footsteps.

During the First World War the officers of the Swedish Gendarmerie, who like most of the Iranian intelligentsia and constitutionalists were sympathetic towards Germany helped the Central Powers and at one point in autumn 1915 seized control of Shiraz with the connivance of the German-trained provincial governor Mehdi-Qoli Mokhber'ol Saltaneh Hedayat.[2] After the 1921 coup d'état the War Minister Reza Khan, merged the two viable military forces which existed in Iran at that point i.e. the Cossack division and the Gendarmerie, to create the modern Iranian national army. A rural police, amnieh, was created and the nazmieh or the police force was also revamped and placed under the Iranian officers.[3]

The disbanding of the Swedish Gendarmerie would greatly weaken the Qajar monarchy and with the Persian Cossack Brigade being the only remaining army unit, it greatly facilitated Reza Shah’s coup in 1921. Hjalmarson would return to Sweden and take command of the volunteer Swedish Brigade serving on the White side in the Finnish Civil War. Another officer, Eric Carlberg, would later on become Sweden’s ambassador to Iran, and a confidant of Mohammed Mosaddeq.

General Harald Hjalmarson's uniform on display at the Swedish Army Museum

Post Revolution

Following the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie remained in existence, although with charges of title, insignia and senior officers. In 1992 it was merged with the Shahrbani (Persian: شهربانی Šahrbānī) and and the Islamic Revolutionary Committees (Persian: کمیته Komīte) into a single national law enforcement force.


The Gendarmerie's Purpose was to guard the frontiers and interior. It consisted of battalions of 4 to 6 Companies. For discipline and administration, the force was under the supervision of the General Officer commanding the division in whose area it was stationed. For police administration work, it came under local civil authorities. It was armed with old pattern rifles of various makes and some Soviet, French and British carbines, but not many modern. It consisted of a total of 7 Independent Mixed Regiments and 15 Mixed Battalions, forming a Corps.[4]


Name Period
Sweden General Harald Hjalmarson August 1911 – February 1915
Sweden Colonel Nyström March 1915 – end of 1916
Sweden Colonel Gleerup August 1918 – end of 1921

Notable officers



See also




  1. 1 2 The Making of Modern Iran, page 49
  2. Sykes vol.II. 444- 446
  3. Aqeli, Roozshomari, vol. II., pp. 164–8
  4. Unknown Armies vol.2, Persia/Iran by Peter Abbott, Raider Books (1989)
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