Initially, the Guard had limited capabilities; however, during the Iran-Iraq War, it was expanded to five brigades. By 1986 the war had exhausted Iraq with both Iran and Iraq suffering heavy casualties. Iran had by then captured Al Faw and generally pushed Iraqi forces back to the prewar borders. This caused the Iraqi Ba'ath Party to convene the Ba'ath Extraordinary Congress of July 1986. During this Congress the Ba'ath Party decided on a new strategy to overhaul the Iraqi military and utilize Iraq's manpower capability. The government closed all colleges and universities and began a mass mobilization program to force draft dodgers into the Iraqi Popular Army. This decision allowed for the drafting of thousands of university students, who were sent to military summer camps. In addition, the military began accepting Sunni volunteers from throughout Iraq.
With this massive influx of manpower the Republican Guard expanded to over 25 brigades which were led by loyal officers drawn from the Iraqi military. This force then conducted the Ramadan Mubarak operation which recaptured the Al Faw and stabilized the front and later pushed the Iranians back. (Note: "Ramadan Mubarak" means "Blessed Ramadan"; the operation was so named because it began on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.)
Read more about this topic: Republican Guard (Iraq)
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