38th UAE Armed Forces on Unification Day

“This is simply a day to salute all men and women in all branches of the service who protect our country and you.” They can be called upon at a moment’s notice to perform a risky and perilous mission for freedom and country.”

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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Most recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrated its 38th Armed Forces unification day. It is a landmark in itself. It reflects the depth of its founding fathers’ strategic vision. It is also proof that strong willpower and determination are cornerstones on which the UAE and its achievements were built. It stands for loyalty, dedication, and will for building country’s institutions and unification of UAE our Armed Forces.

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, paid high tributes to the Federal Supreme Council, led by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, on its historic resolution to unify the UAE Armed Forces 38 years ago.

Rulers and senior military officials issued statements in Dira Al Watan magazine on the occasion of the 38th UAE Armed Forces Unification Day.

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan called the historic resolution a “springboard to the future”, while Shaikh Mohammed hailed the “deep loyalty, sincerity and high preparedness” of the armed forces personnel.

The Federal Supreme Council had unified the UAE Armed Forces under one flag and one command on May 6, 1976. Shaikh Khalifa called the historic resolution a “springboard to the future”, while Shaikh Mohammed hailed the “deep loyalty, sincerity and high preparedness” of the armed forces personnel. General Shaikh Mohammed said the unification has since then “strengthened the concept of union” in the minds and hearts of Emiratis.

Political Interest and Popular Will

Shaikh Khalifa said that the unification was triggered by the political interest and the popular will.

Landmark Event

“It is a landmark in the history of the armed forces, as it provided material capabilities and moral support, enabling it to take rapid and remarkable steps in changing the armed forces into an integrated modern army to keep in pace with the highest international standards, he added.

Making of a Modern Army

Mentioning the different evolutionary stages of the UAE armed forces Shaikh Khalifa said that in a few years, armed forces developed rapidly into a modern army well equipped with the latest military equipment and hardware.

Keep the UAE’s Flag High

“Above all, it has become an army capable of shouldering its responsibilities, as its personnel have devoted their lives for the sake of the nation. They did not spare their blood to keep the UAE‘s flag high, thanks to their skills and expertise, as well as local and international achievements Shaikh Khalifa further elaborated.

UAE Armed Forces and stability and Sustainability of the Country

Giving the details of the UAE armed forces contributions towards sustainability of comprehensive development of the country, he acknowledged the positive role of armed forces working with all institutions.

UAE Armed Forces Role in Alleviating Human Suffering

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The President highlighted the extended cooperation of the armed forces with the regional and international forces for the sake of alleviating human suffering, internally and externally. UAE Armed Forces successfully paint a prestigious and honourable image that reflects Emirati social values in the rightful use of force to achieve justice he further added. Moreover, the appropriate use of power establishes the country’s bright image that ensures security and safety, he explained.

UAE Armed Forces Contributions to GCC’s Defence System

The President shed light on the UAE Armed Forces contributory role in the betterment of joint defence system of the GCC which also reassures that the UAE national defence is in the right hands.

Importance of National and Reserve Services

Speaking to the citizens of the country, the President advised that the protection of the country, preserving its independence, sovereignty and achievements are the sacred national duties on the shoulder of every citizen. He also mentioned the importance of National and Reserve Services and its multiplier effects to Emiratis i.e. instilling loyalty and a sense of belonging among the youth to boost nationalist values, discipline, participation and sacrifice. He was of the opinion that the said service would further develop readiness and the ability to meet challenges of present and future as well as contributing positively to the national development process.

Precious Sacrifices for the Homeland

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan concluded his speech by saying “On this glorious occasion, we renew our confidence in you and your ability to discharge this vital role for the sake of our country and citizens. We reaffirm our pride in you and your precious sacrifices for the homeland. We also emphasize that our armed forces will remain the shield that protects our country and safeguards its sovereignty. And while we appreciate this, we ask you to move steadily forward to discharging this noble duty for the sake of the homeland.”

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has stressed that celebrating the UAE Armed Forces Unification Day 38th anniversary is not merely to commemorate the historical decision in the march of our nation, but is also a celebration of our present and our national achievement in all fields.

In a speech on the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed addressed the UAE Armed Forces in ‘Diraa Al Watan’ (Nation Shield) magazine; he said: “The march of building our armed forces is a live model that recapitulates the process of building our state and bears witness to the wisdom, foresight and giving of the generations of foundation and empowerment, and confirms the validity and soundness of the approach established by our parents; and the plants grown by the builder and farsighted leader the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, have become strong and fruitful.”

Addressing the armed forces personnel, Sheikh Mohammed said: I salute your nobility, deep loyalty, and sincerity, high preparedness to carry out your sacred duty to maintain the security, sovereignty, stability and dignity of our homeland.

“I salute your spirit of altruism, giving and continuous preparedness to defend the country and sacrifice for it.”

Gallantry, Profound loyalty, Sincere Patriotism

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum praised gallantry, profound loyalty, sincere patriotism and preparedness of the UAE Armed Forces to perform sacred mission of safeguarding sovereignty and strengthening stability and security of the country.

Spirit of Selflessness, Willingness to Sacrifice

Rashid Al Maktoum also admired the spirit of selflessness, willingness to sacrifice and resolve to stand out and to adapt to the latest in the armament, technology, organisation, management and training.

Message of Peace and Development

He was of the opinion that the seeds of development planted by the nation builder and leader the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan are bearing fruits today in the form of schools, factories, hospitals, infrastructures and importantly, messages of peace and commitment to the common destiny we share with the whole world.

Importance of Compulsory Military Service

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Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE stressed the importance to implement the compulsory military service for UAE male youth, which will be optional for women.

Compulsory Military Service Programme: A National Agenda

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“For years, the compulsory military service programme was high on our national action agenda. It was also evident through the ‘Bayariq’ educational programme in the secondary schools which covered military education, police sciences and cognitive skills. We relied on our experience and on the right time for the implementation of the decision which was well received by all people of the UAE. The phrase ‘Absher ya Watan’ or ‘Hail the motherland’ which went viral among the youth of the country was yet another proof of our mature community and of the belief among the citizens that serving one’s country is an honour and defending one’s country is a moral commitment for all citizens he further elaborated.

UAE Youth Love to Country

He showed great confidence that the UAE youth would passionately race to enlist to demonstrate their love to their country and their allegiance to the leaders. He hoped that the UAE youth would join the Armed Forces to acquire new skills that will add their knowledge, shape their character, and enhance their self-confidence and increase their stamina for military service is a school for bravery, discipline, responsibility, decision making, time management and teamwork.

Modernization of the Armed Forces

Rashid Al Maktoum emphasized the key element of modernization in the development of the UAE Armed Forces and labeled it one the foremost priority of national agenda. The military service programme will help strengthen the structure and capabilities of our Armed Forces as we continue to sustain our principles for peaceful co-existence and good neighbor liness, he explained.

UAE Armed Forces and the National Development

He strongly appreciated the positive role of the UAE Armed Forces in the national development and progress in building capabilities and in laying the foundation for advanced defence manufacturing industries, paving the way for technology transfer and eventually, for the Emiratisation of technology, promoting Research and Development, contributing to economic diversification drive and accelerating the transition from conventional to knowledge-based economy.

UAE Domestic Defence Industry

He mentioned the great strides made by the UAE government in the fields of Defence Industry since 1976. Due to strategic vision of its dynamic leadership, UAE is now one of the most advanced indigenous defence industry in the GCC and MENA. It is even now assisting, cooperating and exporting its armaments products to brotherly and friendly countries.

Today, we manufacture ships, military vehicles, missiles, ammunitions, UAVs, light arms, aerospace components and weapon systems he further added.

Armed Forces pioneering Role in National Progress

“This success in defence manufacturing complements our success in other areas of developments and added to our capabilities. The history has always taught us that Armed Forces play a pioneering role in progress and that scientific research, innovation, discovery and inventions are usually triggered by national defence necessities. Examples here include computer, information technology, Internet, satellites, fire optics, jet fighters, submarines and nuclear energy he elaborated”.

He personally thanked the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the development of home-grown advanced defence industries and its modernization. He also mentioned the valuable services of the General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who closely follows up implementation of manufacturing and Emirati capability building strategies and plans. I would like also to thank our sons and daughters engaged in managing and operating national manufacturing facilities.

Work Hard and Loyal to Leadership

He stressed the need to work hard to overcome the challenges and be remained loyal to leadership. With you, we have succeeded in presenting a shining example, emanating from our belief that they key to good governance is to seek to serve the interest of the people to ensure their prosperity and happiness and to realise security, stability and safety of our country and its ability to confront threats and to deal with the worst, he expounded.

Strong Bond of Trust between the Leaders and Citizens

“The strong bond of trust between the leaders and citizens has enabled us to move along the path of comprehensive development, relying on the vision, strategies, values, heritage and openness to changes” he added.

Importance of Positive Energy

He indicated the importance of positive energy and its appropriate utility, human capital and dignity and its role in economic development and competitiveness. He also uphold the value of industriousness, submissiveness, innovativeness and initiatives in the life a nation and its people at large.

Importance of a Clear Vision

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai concluded his speech by saying “We will do all we can and we will walk to the future, using our own Emirati recipe for success and success we shall make as we are blessed with a leader who has a clear vision. We move ahead, inspired by the teachings of the Holy Quran and of our Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him”.

General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has paid a glowing tribute to the Federal Supreme Council, led by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, on its historic resolution to unify the UAE Armed Forces on 6th May, 1976.

Pakistan Floods

“We observe each year the anniversary of the unification of UAE Armed Forces amid new achievements in terms of armaments, training and military technology. This year’s celebration comes in the wake of the Federal National Council’s (FNC) resolution on the national and reserve service law. The new law will provide the armed forces with more national cadres. It will also boost the allegiance of the youth to the country and polish their capabilities and skills through military service, as they will acquire more ability to tackle difficulties and challenges he added.

Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Rashad Mahmood

Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Rashad Mahmood along with Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandhela attended the 38th anniversary of the UAE Armed Forces Unification Day which was hosted by the UAE Ambassador Abdullah Al Basha Al Noaimi and military attaché Brig Ghanem Al Ali. It was also attended by large number of the guests belonging to defence wings of the embassies, high commissions and missions in Islamabad. UAE Ambassador, military attaché and General Rashad Mahmood and Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandhela jointly performed the cake cutting ceremony. An impressive documentary about the UAE Armed Forces was also televised in which women soldiers won the hearts of all the participants. All the guests high appreciated the high professionalism and modernization of the UAE Armed Forces.

Historic Insights

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the exemplary model for the successful unification of armed forces in the world. Right from the beginning, UAE under successive visionary leadership maintained its focus to institutionalize strong armed forces, gradually increase its military capabilities and moreover modernize its weaponry because strong defence system has been one of the main instruments to keep enemies at bay in war theatres and peace times. It guarantees smooth sailing of governance, territorial sovereignty and national pride. It leads the way of glory, durable peace, and sustainable socio-economic development.


Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Maneuverings

Rapidly changing geo-political and geo-strategic trends in the Arab Gulf, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Middle East at large has already tremendously increased the importance of professional armed forces. Moreover, emergence of non-state threats like piracy, terrorism, extremism, human trafficking and the last but not the least, energy security upholds the importance of capable armed forces. Armed Forces is also a guarantor of the ongoing economic prosperity march in the region.

6th May Symbolizes the Federation and the National Unity

Sixth May marks the 38th Unification Anniversary of the Armed Forces of United Arab Emirates which symbolizes the Federation and the national unity. On May 6, 1976 a historic decision was made to unify the Armed Forces of the Emirates towards a sublime goal: defend the UAE and its national achievements.

Sixth May 1976 is a glorious day in history when the UAE Armed Forces was unified under one flag and one command to be an impregnable shield to defend our nation and our achievements. It is the day of appreciation for UAE’s men in uniform. The UAE Armed Forces day is also celebrated with zeal and pride every year.

Different Important Stages Details
Stage I Coast of Oman Scouts
Stage II Trucial Emirates Force later as Defense Force
Stage III Armed Forces
Source National Shield Journal (April 2012).


Gigantic Effort

It was indeed a gigantic effort and the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (May God bless his soul), Father and Founder of the UAE Federation who laid the foundation for the military thinking and doctrine adopted by the armed forces until they became a highly sophisticated force.

Formation of Armed Forces and Federation

The formation of the armed forces coincided with the early days of the 1971 Federation, as the concept behind the forces was in line with the UAE’s socio-economic and social master development plan. The two building processes developed in complete harmony in all fields of national life. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (May God protect him), has played a key role in turning the late Father and Founder of the Federation Sheikh Zayed’s vision into reality. His Highness was totally focused on the armed forces development plans, establishing military academies and institutions to arm cadets with modern military sciences.

Strong Will of Visionary Leadership Prevailed

The unification of the armed forces had not been smooth and easy but ultimately the will of visionary leadership prevailed which strengthened the Federation, developed and upgraded the armed forces in all aspects and acquired vast knowledge in the military field. It gradually unleashed a comprehensive process to bring in state-of-the-art weaponry and acquire the most modern military field skills.

According to National Shield Journal the Armed Forces are now made up of more than 51,000 personnel; 44,000 in the Army, 2,500 in the Navy and 4,500 in the Air Force. Before 1976, the UAE had about 3,000 regular military personnel. According to reports published in the UAE “Dira’ Al Watan” magazine on the said event highlighted the UAE’s armed forces’ success in adopting modern defence systems and technologies in a relatively short period of time. It also highlights salient features of strong defence, self-reliance and deterrence.

Armed Forces and Independence of Foreign Policy

The Armed Forces uphold the UAE’s foreign policy, which is ever ready to combat any foreign aggression and strives for good neighbourly relations. Throughout its history, armed forces have been playing a major role in humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations. UAE armed forces had multiple contributions to humanitarian relief operation world-wide.

UAE Armed Forces Valuable Services to UN Forum

The Government has always given its full support to the use of UAE forces in international peacekeeping missions. Describing the troops’ role as “maintaining world peace and security”, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has earlier called their deployment overseas an “important arm by which the UAE can apply its humanitarian principles”.

The UAE Armed Forces have played a vital role in international peacekeeping missions across the world, thus reflecting the principles and values of the UAE’s foreign policy. It highlighted the UAE armed forces’ distinguished status and their brilliant history which is filled with achievements.

There is no doubt that the wise policy laid down by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (May God bless his soul) and pursued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has motivated the UAE people to extend a helping hand to the needy. They have gained wide experience in handling people of different backgrounds.

UAE Armed Forces was part of the Arab Deterrent Force to maintain peace in Lebanon (1976) helped the Somali (1992) people (Hope Revival) in the early 1990s, joined in the liberation of Kuwait (1991) and participated in relief missions in Kosovo (1999), Pakistan (2004, 2010) and Yemen. The Armed Forces played a major role in humanitarian assistance to many countries badly affected by natural calamities and contributed to the social welfare of its people. Most recently, the UAE Armed Forces peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions were started in Libya too.

Moreover, the UAE specialist army forces are supporting the UN mission in Afghanistan, where they are the only Arab soldiers undertaking full-scale operations. Their role includes providing protection for relief workers and offering a stable environment for the rebuilding of communities in a number of provinces. Their involvement over the past five years reflects the Government’s desire to see a Muslim presence in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, which include work on new schools, medical clinics and mosques.

UAE Armed Forces Role in Natural Crisis of Pakistan

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During the devastating floods in Pakistan last year, UAE Armed Forces successfully carried out grand operations of rescue, distribution of relief goods, and logistics to different parts of Pakistan. Chinooks rigorously participated in the humanitarian assistance activities in the most flood affected regions of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochitsan. UAE Military Field Hospitals launched effective vaccination campaigns to save children, women and elderly people from different diseases. Water purification plants were also set up to provide clean drinking water in the most flood affected areas.

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Concluding Remarks

UAE Armed Forces are the national shield of country and people alike. Strong defence means strong government and strong government means easy and smooth march towards achieving desired goals of socio-economic prosperity.

UAE Armed Forces are the ideal combination of modern weaponry, professionalism and passion towards the protection of its motherland. Political wisdom, commitment and above all visionary leadership has played remarkable role in building UAE Armed Forces capabilities. UAE is an independent and sovereign country which has its own indigenous modern Defence System to protect its national pride and sovereignty. Thanks to successive rulers and visionary leadership of UAE. It is reality that the unification of the UAE armed forces was turning point that helped it to strengthen its regional and international presence. Long Live Armed Forces of UAE.

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