Soleimani rose up the ranks of the military until he came to head, arguably, the most elite special forces outfit in the region, if not the world, called the Quds Force, which translates as the Jerusalem Force.
Iran has two armies, navies, and air forces. One, to protect the country. The other, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC), to protect the country's religious revolution.
And among the IRGC the Quds are the elite of the elite. Its members speak multiple languages.
They are spies, soldiers, and technical experts. In Western terms, they are a hybrid of Green Berets, SAS commandos and Delta Force operators all fused into one.
And Soleimani was their commander. For more than 20 years.