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GCC defence accord 'must be expanded'

posted on 21/03/2001: 1691 views

The UAE Air Force and Air Defence commander, Brig. Khalid bin Abdullah Mubarak, has urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to build upon their joint defence agreement signed last December by undertaking joint thinking, planning, training and operations. Outlining a new vision, he said it is all about unity of efforts, the pooling of assets and better command and control, even information operations. He was speaking at the Gulf Defence Conference. The vision is intended to build upon the December agreement that calls for an extension of the Peninsula Shield force to rapid deployment operations and a new joint military doctrine.

UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, who was the conference's keynote speaker, gave thumbs up to the new vision, saying that the UK fully supports aspirations to improve the GCC's capabilities. "The plans chime well with the UK's Strategic Defence Review, and we will work closely with our friends to push this vision forward," Baroness Symons said.

Brigadier Mubarak said the GCC is well prepared for symmetrical conventional warfare, but that a new era has created serious challenges. "The information threat to humanity is much greater than that of nuclear weapons," he said. He said current talk centres around weapons of mass disruption - manipulation, disclosure, denial of services, destruction and espionage, unlike the previous preoccupation with weapons of mass destruction.

Citing the recent example of the use of information technology to attack computer and other electronic systems in Palestine and Israel during the Intifada, he noted that there were more than 166 cyber attacks on Israeli systems and 34 on Palestinian. Israel and Palestine are waging a ruthless battle and it is spilling over to GCC states, he said. To counter these threats, the GCC must continue to build up its conventional forces and gain better coordination. (The Gulf News)


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