The Pakistan Army (PA), which came into existence on Pakistani independence in 1947, is the largest branch of the nation’s military. It is a professional, volunteer fighting force, with (although estimates vary widely) about 550,000 active personnel and 500,000 reserves. It possesses about 3,100 tanks, 3,200 armored fighting vehicles, 500 self-propelled guns, 3,300 towed artillery pieces, and 200 multiple-launch rocket systems. The Pakistan Army Aviation Corps operates about 250 aircraft, including 40 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.
Since 1947, the Army has been involved in three wars with neighbouring India and several border skirmishes with Afghanistan. It maintained a strong presence in the Arab states during the Arab-Israeli Wars, aided the coalition in the first Gulf War, and played a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. Recently, major joint-operations undertaken by the Army include Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat, against armed insurgents within Pakistan. The army has also been an active participant in UN missions.The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), by statute a four-star general, is appointed by the President, with the consultation and confirmation of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Pakistan Army is currently commanded by General Raheel Sharif.[3