UAE Armed Forces Unification Day: Report

ABU DHABI, — The UAE celebrates the anniversary of the Army Unification Day on 6th May every year, and on the occasion of the 41st anniversary, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and the Rulers of the Emirates, paid glowing tributes to the Federal Supreme Council, when it was led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, on its historic resolution to unify the UAE Armed Forces 40 years ago.

UAE Armed Forces: Enabling the nation to play a positive global role The importance of creating a strong armed force in a geographically volatile region was first recognised by the visionary leader and father of the nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. Immediately after the new Federation of the United Arab Emirates was formed out of seven emirates, he laid emphasis on a strategy to develop a strong army to protect the fledgling nation. His words categorically stated the underlying peaceful principle behind the idea when he said, “We are building an army not with the purpose of aggression or fighting another country, not for eventual expansion, but merely for defence.”

Army Unification: A Visionary Move To trace the origin of the unification of the various Emirati army contingents into the UAE Army, one has to start with the Trucial Oman Scouts. The Scouts were for long the symbol authority maintaining public order but were commanded by British officers. The Scouts were turned over to the UAE as its defence force when the nation was formed in 1971. The Scouts numbered only 500 in 1955 but had grown to 2,500 in 1971 and were renamed the Union Defence Force. This force later became the UAE Armed Forces which have grown to be a strong force supporting numerous humanitarian projects around the world.

In those days, each emirate of the UAE maintained its own army or defence force. Again, it was left to the visionary President Sheikh Zayed to take the initiative to unite the different defence forces into a unified army. On the occasion of Army unification, Sheikh Zayed said, “The building of the Armed Forces in any country is an endeavour most cherished by its people. Under the pressure of urgent need, we were induced to merge our Armed forces into the UAE Army. This has been our hope from the very start because it meant oneness of decision, unity of hearts and mutual support among brethren having common bonds of kinship and neighbourhood.”

The first discussions on army unification took place in mid-1975. After fruitful discussions over a year, at the end of 1976 the UAE Armed Forces formally came into being. The Abu Dhabi Defence Force, ADDF, became the Western Command, the Dubai Defence Force, the Central Command, and the Ras al-Khaimah Mobile Force the Northern Command. The Union Defence Force was renamed the Yarmuk Brigade and the Sharjah National Guard was merged with the federal police force.

The UAE Armed Forces today is a cohesive well integrated force. The UAE Armed Forces are equipped with some of the most modern weapon systems, purchased from a variety of countries. The officers of the armed forces were mostly graduates of the United Kingdom’s Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, with others having attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Australian Royal Military College in Duntroon and St. Cyr, the Military Academy of France.

Attaining self-sufficiency in training cadets for the three wings of the Armed Forces In order to meet the requirements of training Emirati cadets for national security within the country, the National Defence College was established in Abu Dhabi in 2013. The college has since then produced highly trained cadets not only for the UAE but for other GCC countries, like Bahrain. In May 2016, the graduation ceremony at the college was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice president and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. They distributed certificates to Emirati graduates of Master’s Degree programmes after they completed a year in their studies and training.

The UAE has also set up a Naval College in Abu Dhabi. In March 2017, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, attended the graduation ceremony of the 17th batch of the Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Naval College in Abu Dhabi. Cadets for the Air Force are trained at the Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, which is located at the Al Ain International Airport.

UAE Army facilitates nation’s global peace operations As the UAE became an economic powerhouse over the years, its new status endowed upon it a responsibility to play a global role with other world powers to restore peace, to help in disasters, to be part of the UN Peacekeeping Force, and to extend a helping hand in humanitarian crises. The UAE could effectively do that because of its unified army under one command. This role played by the UAE Armed Forces was greatly appreciated by the United Nations and other countries in the region, as well as the world over.

Joint Exercises Since the 1980s, there has been an ambitious modernisation of the UAE Armed Forces, with the goal of attaining a level of capability matching the highest NATO standards.

That UAE Armed Forces have come of age and become one of the most modern armed forces of the world is borne by the fact that from superpowers to regional nations, other countries have been holding joint military exercises with the UAE for many years. Joint military exercises have been held from time to time in recent years with the United States, India, Malaysia, Egypt, France, United Kingdom, Australia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and a host of other countries.

UAE and United States of America In December 2016, a joint military exercise by UAE and US ground forces was held in Abu Dhabi. The five-day ‘Iron Claw 2’ drill was designed to help soldiers enhance capability, gain more field experience and understand military doctrines. The drill, which included the use of sophisticated weaponry and equipment, was also undertaken to increase coordination between the two forces, raising their combat readiness.

Military Cooperation with India The UAE Armed Forces have close relations with India in a wide range of sectors. An Indo-UAE Strategic Dialogue has been taking the relationship forward. Four days after the first dialogue was held, an agreement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was signed in January 2017. A UAE Armed Forces contingent participated in the 2017 Indian Republic Day Parade at which His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces was the chief guest.

The close ties between India and the UAE received a boost with the visit of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar to the UAE in 2016. Following the visit, the Indian Air Force conducted the ‘Desert Eagle-II’ air combat exercise with the UAE Armed Forces. The IAF deployed its Sukhoi-30MKI fighters for the exercise at the Al-Dhafra airbase from May 24th to June 3rd, while the UAE fielded Mirage-2000s and F-16s. The exercise was held with multiple simulated combat scenarios. It was held eight years after Desert Eagle-1.

Additionally, a fleet of five Indian warships was dispatched to the Gulf in 2016 on a goodwill mission, stopping at several cities, including Dubai. More recently, the Indian Coast guard ship, Samudra Pavak, visited Mina Al Rashid (Dubai Port).

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visited the UAE in August 2015. During this visit, it was agreed that a dialogue between the national security advisors and the national security councils would be established. Maritime security cooperation and defence relations would be strengthened and a strategic security dialogue would be established.

Joining hands with Malaysia A military exercise in Abu Dhabi between UAE and Malaysian ground forces, ‘Desert Tiger 4’, was held in April 2017. The Desert Tiger series is an annual joint exercise between the two countries to highlight the professionalism and efficiency of UAE Ground Forces troops and to raise their level of combat readiness. Desert Tiger 4 is part of the UAE leadership’s continued desire to support and create distinguished partnerships between the UAE and Malaysia.

Military exercises with Egypt In March this year, the “Zayed 2” joint military exercise between UAE Armed Forces and their Egyptian counterparts was held in the UAE, with the participation of armed forces units from both countries. The training included a series of joint military drills as part of a unified strategy to strengthen military co-operation between UAE and Egyptian armed forces, in order to unify joint operations and best training methods to improve armed forces’ combat ability to keep up with the modern era. The “Zayed 2” joint military training included a series of training sessions between the UAE and Egypt with the aim of training in the planning, execution and management of joint military operations and launching unified procedures between the different participating forces.

Military Exercise with UK Emirati and British military personnel teamed up for the ”Sea Dagger 2017” exercise. The exercise involved Emirati forces and the UK’s elite Special Purpose Task Group in two weeks of training that included beach reconnaissance, close-quarter battle, counter-explosive training, marksmanship and battlefield triage. From the UK side, HMS Ocean participated in the exercise.

Military exercise with France The UAE and French armed forces held a joint military exercise named ‘Gulf 2016’ in November 2016. During the exercise, the armed forces from both countries were engaged in training to enhance their skills in joint operations and to upgrade inter-troop coordination and combat capabilities. ‘Gulf 2016’ was part of a series of joint exercises and which are carried out every four years as part of a cooperation agreement signed in 1995.

UAE: A trusted partner in the fight against terror The UAE has been a trusted partner in the international fight against terrorism. UAE Armed Forces joined the United States and other Western countries in combating extremist forces in Libya, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world. The UAE Armed Forces have upheld the nation’s firm policy of containing terrorism in the interest of international peace.

Supporting the legitimate government of Yemen The UAE has been in the forefront of the fight against terror, deploying its military against al Qaeda, and adding the capability of its troops to the campaign, while working with the United States to train, manage and equip Yemeni fighters.

Operation Inherent Resolve In the summer of 2014, Daesh attacked across the Syrian-Iraqi borders and seized large swathes of territory. The UAE is part of the Combined Joint Task Force � Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), which aims to militarily defeat Daesh.

Self-reliance in the field of Defence Industries The UAE has begun to produce a larger amount of military equipment in a bid to reduce foreign dependence and help with national industrialisation.

The Emirates Defence Industries Company, EDIC, is a leading integrated national defence manufacturing and services platform, providing world-class facilities, technology and support services. Based in the UAE, the company brings together the combined capabilities of the UAE’s defence industries on a single integrated platform to enhance value for clients, shareholders, partners and other stakeholders. Mubadala holds a 60% share in the company.

The Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company, ADSB, produces a range of ships and is a prime contractor in the Baynunah Programme to design, develop and produce Corvettes customised for operation in the shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf.

In 2007, the first small arm ever produced in UAE, the Caracal pistol, was introduced at IDEX. It became the official sidearm of the UAE Armed Forces and security forces. The National Guard of Bahrain adopted it shortly thereafter. Jordan ordered an unspecified number of pistols in April 2008 during SOFEX, the Special Forces Exhibition held in Jordan. UAE and Algeria established a joint committee on 17th November 2008 in order to test the Caracal pistol for further adoption by Algeria.

A joint venture agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi on 28th November 2007 between Tawazun Holding, an investment company established by the Offset Programme Bureau, Al-Jaber Trading Establishment, part of Al-Jaber Group, and Rheinmetall Munitions Systems, to set up the Al-Burkan munitions factory at Zayed Military City in Abu Dhabi.

Nimr Automotive, a subsidiary of EDIC, is a defence vehicle manufacturer with a diverse product portfolio addressing the various needs of armed forces and internal security organisations around the world. It develops and produces customisable, inter-operable platforms.

Nimr’s multi-purpose vehicles have a wide spectrum of applications ranging from tactical missions in harsh arid environments to modern urban warfare, deep infiltration missions, reconnaissance, border surveillance, support logistics and riot control. The Nimr range of vehicles, including an armament carrier, logistics vehicle, ambulance, and a mobile Command and Control centre, can be employed in different situational scenarios. In mid-2012, Nimr was issued the prestigious ‘STANAG 4569 Level 3’ certification by an independent testing authority for the Nimr 6A�6 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). The certification is based on standards set by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Standardisation Agreement. Nimr vehicles are in service across the GCC.

Source: Emirates News Agency