As mentioned in previous blogs the UAE is a relatively new country and small one too. Its foundation on December 2, 1971 and a population of 9.3 million. The country occupies a very strategical position on the Arabian Gulf, where almost one quarter of the world’s oil is produced and shipped. So now the UAE is flexing their military and what was once a nation with limited international presence is now obtaining weaponry, instituting universal military service, and expanding their fleet of jets and heavy machinery/vehicles. Now the UAE has proven to be willing and frequently use their military force around the region.
The UAE has the 15th highest military expenditures of any country in the world as of the year 2013. Their military spending has nearly doubled in the las ten years. They have backed up their military expansion with a bold and independent minded foreign policy.
Union Defense Force
The Union Defense Force (UDF) is the armed forces of the UAE and has the responsibility for the defense of the all the seven emirates. It consists of 65,000 people and the headquarters is located in Abu Dhabi. In the beginning it was a small number, but as time went on their forces have grown and are now equipped with some of the most modern technologies and weapon systems, they purchase these weapons mainly from France, the US and the UK. Most of their offices graduate from the United Kingdom’s Royal Military Academy, and others graduate here in the US, at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
There are two military organizations in the UAE, the Federal Military Force and the Union Defense Force, and some the emirates have their own forces.
UAE Army: Part of the military of the UAE’S ground force and responsible for land operations.
UAE Air Force: Their air force has a personnel of about 4,000 people. This air defense has a “Hawk missile” program which the US has been training.
UAE Air Defense Force: Responsible only for aircraft.
UAE Navy: Their navy is growing, with a personnel of about 2,000 people and 72 vessels.
- UAE Marines- They maintain a small battalion sized marine force called “UAE Marines”.
- UAE Coast Guard- The coast guard is in charge of the protection of the UAE’S coastline through regulation of maritime laws, maintenance of remarks, border control, anti-smuggling operations, among other services.
Paramilitary Forces: Which is the Federal Police Force.
The country sent forces to help Kuwait in 1990-1991 in the Gulf War where UAE troops participated in the conflict as a part of the “GCC Peninsula Shield Force” that went or advanced into Kuwait City. Also, during the Iraq War they sent a regiment to Kuwait. The UAE is a leading partner in the campaign against terrorism, giving assistance in the military, diplomatic and financial arenas. And they also prove humanitarian assistance to Iraq. They started a deployment in 2007 in Afghanistan. In the year 2015, the UAE participated in the “Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen” to influence an outcome of the Yemeni Civil War.
UAE Military Expenditure
The UAE is recognized as the fourth largest defense importer in the world. They accounted for almost 5 percent of the global defense imports in 2011. They have an annual defense budget of around 10 billion dollars, they are projected to spend around 6 percent of their GDP on defense. Now the UAE is building their own defense industry with collaborations with foreign defense contractors, because they are looking to be a country of exporting defense capabilities, instead of what they are now, which is importers.
UAE-US Security Relationship
The foundation for the UAE-US bilateral security relationship is the 1994 “Defense Cooperation Agreement”, this pact allows the US to base their troops and equipment within UAE borders. The Jebel Ali port in Dubai, is very crucial to naval operations of the US.
Military Assistance & Cooperation
The UAE is one of the three countries and the only Arab nation to participate with the US in 6 coalition actions over the past 20 years:
- Afghanistan: The UAE’s special forces are the only Arab personnel who undertake full on operations in the country, it is an ongoing ten year commitment.
- Libya: The UAE deployed a dozen fighter jets, because of a combat mission under NATO command to protect the Libyan people throughout the whole conflict.
- Somalia: In the year of 1992, the UAE joined other countries, led by the US Central Command, to secure the environment and provide humanitarian relief.
- Bosnia-Kosovo: The country was among the first non-Nato states to give their support for NATO’s air operations. They have also participated in peace operations.
- 1990 Gulf War: Was one of the first countries to give their support to the US at the advent war.
- Fight Against ISIS: They are very committed to combating Islamic extremism in all of its forms.
They provide an ongoing and very essential support for US forces, and provide to efforts to the fight against terrorism, while at the same time work to increase stability and peace in the region.
Mandatory National Service in the UAE
A law that introduces mandatory military service for all Emirates from ages 18-30 was endorsed by President his Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The law states that Emirate men who have finished secondary studies or between 18-30 years old will have to serve 9 months, while those who haven’t will have to serve for 2 years. For women the service will be optional, they may be trained for 9 months, regardless of their education. Citizens who complete the mandatory military service will enjoy a lot of benefits, like: priority for government jobs and private institutions, marriage grants, housing plots and scholarships. On the other hand citizens who do not complete the service without a valid reason by the time they reach 29, they will face jail time or they will have to pay a fine too.