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Accession Day 2003 Feature: UAE Armed Forces

posted on 02/08/2003: 3379 views

The UAE has succeeded in building a modern army that is capable of not only defending the strategic and vital national interests of the country but also facing various sorts of challenges, said a report released by the Armed Forces on the 37th anniversary of the Accession Day.

The report underlined the fact the UAE Army has now grown into a formidable force in every respect, noting that this great achievement was only possible through sound planning, administration and good armament policy. Quoting President H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the report said that the UAE, in building such a strong army, does not harbour any intentions to invade any country but is simply fulfilling its national defence obligations.

"By developing the defensive capabilities of our military, we intend not to engage in combat with anybody or invade any country, but rather to safeguard our achievements, maintain our stability and prosperity and defend our territorial integrity " the report quoted Sheikh Zayed as saying.

In order to fully meet its national obligations, the army adopted a multi-faceted strategy, based on training, human resources development, upgrading of the skills of its personnel and good armament policy that would keep the army at par with world's modern armies. This strategy, said the report, was evolved upon the directives of President Sheikh Zayed, who is also the Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The report further pointed out that the progress made so far in modernising the army is a process that has been in motion over the years.

"The achievements made by the army were not realised by mere coincidence. Rather, it was the ultimate result of a strong resolve to built a modern army and equip it with the latest military technology” said H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. This is also a view shared by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Minister of Defence, who describes the resolve of the UAE leadership to modernise the Armed Forces as part of an encompassing vision for maintaining the country's stability, security, territorial integrity as well as peace and justice. This is the vision which gave rise to the unification of the various forces of the emirates into a strong federal army, a move that was congruent with the spirit of the UAE federation.

Since the unification, the army has followed an armament policy that is based diversity and selection of quality defence equipment, says Lt. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Staff of the UAE Armed Forces.

On the training drive undertaken by the UAE army, the report said that training had been a core policy in the overall strategy for modernising the army. To achieve that objective several military schools were set up along side the main military colleges, which have continued to provide training in military sciences at various levels. In addition to military sciences, students at these colleges and schools are offered courses in other branches of knowledge so as to prepare them for different conditions as they pursue their military careers.

Functioning alongside these military schools is a language institute, which offers training courses in languages and has recently introduced new departments for academic and technical training. A landmark achievement made by these institutions recently is that the post secondary school diploma certificates that they issue will be recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. This is in addition to the recognition of the high diplomas received by students as part of the technical cooperation with the UK.

To further provide a wider future base for the military, the subject of military education was introduced in secondary schools with the ultimate aim of inculcating values of patriotism, self-denial and readiness to defend one's country in students and thus motivate them to take up military careers after completing their basic general education. On the area of relief operations, the UAE army played a leading role in providing relief assistance to disaster-afflicted areas.

The most notable example was the participation of the army in the reconstruction of Kosovo as well as in the providing relief to the displaced Kosovars. The pioneering role played by the UAE in this regard has received commendation and admiration from the international community, particularly from the United Nations, whose Secretary General Kofi Annan described Sheikh Zayed as a leading international figure who has gained international acclaim for his stances on Arab and global issues.

Annan described the airport built by the UAE in Kukes area in Albania as the best assistance ever donated to Albanians since the Kosovo crisis. "Without that airport, the massive UN-led relief assistance provided to the Kosovars would have been very difficult to deliver, remarked the UN chief”. It is to be recalled that the UAE army's participation in relief operations, and subsequently in the peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, was ordered by President Sheikh Zayed.

"The move to assist the Kosovars is a humanitarian obligation. God created human beings as brothers and also to be useful to one another. He who is devoid of humanity is not a human being” Sheikh Zayed said in remarks he made as the Kosovo crisis began to unfold.

The UAE task force was the first international force to cross the Albanian border to secure entry routes and checkpoints in Kosovo. Upon its arrival, it set up a field hospital and other projects. Another hospital was opened in January this year in Kosovo, under the patronage of Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Economic Department. Earlier, the UAE had participated in the Operation "Restore Hope” in Somalia by providing military aid, setting up hospitals, drilling water wells and setting up relief centres. That operation was part of the 100-day operation, which was designated by the UN Secretary general.

Another major international mission undertaken by the UAE army was the de-mining of South Lebanon, following the liberation of that part of Lebanon. A committee from the UAE military, Lebanese army and the UN is engaged currently overseeing the de-mining operation. This is the second time that the UAE has undertaken a mission in Lebanon. The first was its participation in the Arab Deterrent Peace-Keeping Force during the Lebanese Civil War. A more recent mission by the UAE army was its participation in Dir Al Jazeera (Peninsula Shield) forces that were deployed by GCC countries in February this year to protect Kuwait in case it needed additional forces. The UAE participation was part of its commitment to GCC agreements.

As part of a sustained drive to boost its defence capabilities, the army has continued to conduct joint military exercises with a number of sisterly and friendly countries. These exercises had been useful in boosting the preparedness of the army to operate in different environments and conditions. Joint training exercises with sisterly GCC countries were also of special benefit, as they tended to strengthen inter GCC cooperation.

On the area of exhibitions, the UAE has continued to be the venue of the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), where leading defence manufacturers around the world converge to display their latest technological innovations. The number of participants in IDEX 2003 increased to 825 from 45 countries. Apart from being an excellent forum for countries to interact, the exhibition provides an opportunity for the UAE army to meet its defence procurements. IDEX is complemented by the Dubai Air show, which has established itself as one of the leading air shows worldwide. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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