UAE Defence Strategy

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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Security strategy and policy are among the most important issues any state confronts, especially in a time of war. It is a continuous process which operates even in the age of peace. It guarantees country’s national sovereignty. It protects country’s pride and people’s dignity too. It speeds up socio-economic prosperity by providing ideal atmosphere of doing business and investments. It gives stability and sustainability.

UAE: An Important Country of GCC & MENA

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an important country of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It has a unique military strategy which stands for planning, coordination, and general direction of military operations to meet overall socio-economic, political and military objectives. It may also be called “national strategy” or “grand strategy”. It is the proper planning and utilization of the entire resources of a society, military, technological, economic, and political.

Visionary Leadership and Transformation of UAE

Its visionary leadership has successfully transformed it from sand to space agency. Its defence is immaculate and strong. Its dispute resolution through diplomacy has been a key feature of its foreign policy and the international engagements. UAE has confidence-building strategies and dialogue mechanism which is even highly appreciated by the published report titled “Success of the UAE Defence Strategy: Achievements and Outlook” by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA).

Right from the beginning, UAE leaders worked hard on building national defence against the spectrum of threats to ensure an effective and robust deterrence against hostile forces and actors across the region. Now, UAE has assumed a broadened role within the international community over the past few years. Moreover, its Armed Forces have already intensified engagements with international partners and allies across a range of operational activities and interest areas.

UAE Armed Forces Humanitarian Missions

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The UAE Armed Forces have extended its cooperation 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.

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 and UN Missions

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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.

Most Advanced Indigenous Defence Industry

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, UAE manufactures ships, military vehicles, missiles, ammunitions, UAVs, light arms, aerospace components and weapon systems. Now, series of International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) exhibiting in UAE has become the icon of military might, knowledge-sharing, technology transfer, innovation and the last but not the least, science and space and its domestic military companies and experts played a crucial role. 1,112 international and regional participating companies from 59 countries and 147 UAE-based companies participated in the IDEX-2013.

UAE Armed Forces Role in Scientific Research & Innovation

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces

UAE Armed Forces played a pioneering role in progress and that scientific research, innovation, discovery and inventions in the UAE. Its drive towards modernization like computerization, information technology, internet, satellites, fire optics, jet fighters, submarines and nuclear energy are highly commendable.

UAE Armed Forces Peace Missions

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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.

UAE Armed Forces and its International Allies

The UAE Armed Forces now work more closely than ever before with international allies such as the United States, France, and NATO, among others, participating in coalition activities such as the military campaigns in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. Indeed, the UAE Armed Forces can be expected to take on more responsibilities within international coalitions.

Effects-Based Operational Approach (EBOA)

Its network-centric approach delivers a substantial force multiplier effect by enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness, and reduces quantitative requirements on the force structure. It has increased its core capabilities in support of a shared multi-domain information and communications network which can deliver superior situational awareness to commanders and operators, facilitating rapid decision-making in support of the effects-based operational approach (EBOA). Few nations around the world are able to seriously pursue such a transformation but UAE defence strategy puts its military on a course that is comparable to development paths adopted by NATO. As such, the UAE Armed Forces are increasingly well positioned to transform into a networked force, where superior situational awareness and a secure over-the-air communication network will provide the foundations for long range early warning, rapid response, and precision targeting capabilities.

Multi-Intelligence Sensor Network

According to the recently published report of the INEGMA (December, 2014), these core capabilities continue to take shape with a multi-intelligence sensor network that will expand with future acquisition and operationalisation of a variety of airborne sensors to support airborne early warning, reconnaissance, and other intelligence-gathering missions, and a strategic satellite program which will deliver a wide area multi-domain intelligence picture at one layer and offer a secure over-the-air communications network capability for network-centric operations at another. The network-centric approach for military operations involves multiple complex processes before all else to create the competencies the can enable design, planning, development, and implementation of such a radical transformation. As a development program comprising multiple complex processes, the transition to a network-centric architecture is inherently more systemic in its characteristics than the modular architecture it aims to deliver as the endpoint product.

Holistic Approach

UAE Defence strategy has result-oriented capacity. It carries a holistic approach that aims to develop key technical capacities across key stakeholders in the value chain that will act as strategic enablers and carry forward its defence transformation far into the future.

Coordinated Strategy

UAE has adopted a strategy to fostering growth within as well as between the security establishment, industry, and academic institutions through institutional mechanisms placed strategically in order to provide linkages at multiple layers.

Sustained Defence Transformation and Capacity-Building Measures

UAE is making a pathway for sustained defence transformation and capacity-building that has studied and been informed by successes and failures in defence transformation from around the world. Due to trust-worthy international partnerships, the UAE has matured its professional standards and technical skills within its ranks. The development of centres of education and training at home, from the sizable numbers of Emirati officers taking on advanced courses abroad, and especially from regular UAE participation in military exercises with international allies across a range of scenarios and mission types has tremendously enhanced its tactical, strategic and operational capabilities.

Industrial and Technical Capacity-Building

UAE rigorously adopted the industrial and technical capacity-building policies to support defence transformation which is paying its dividends. It is indeed a long term development which has facilitated the development of a scientific research base, technological innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a highly skilled workforce in the country. It has further strengthened the pace and scope of diversification of economy and available resources in the country.

Fast-paced Growth to the UAE Defence Industry

Due to business friendly investments policies and incentives of the UAE government, it attracted inflows of FDIs and facilitated transfer technologies and technical expertise in the country which has helped facilitate fast-paced growth to the UAE defence industry.

UAE Defence Industrial Base

Mubadala, Tawazun, and Emirates Advanced Investments (EAI) groups are the three main players in the UAE Defence industry. These are expected to finalise a merger to create one of the largest and most promising defence, aerospace, and support services conglomerates in the region.
A number of other smaller groups such as International Golden Group, Baynunah Group, and ADCOM, reflect the budding industrial base in the UAE and its potential to develop the technical capacities that the country will need for the future.

Achievements of UAE Defence Industry

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The UAE defence industry has built-up important technical and industrial capacities in a relatively short span of time. Now it is in a position to compete with international contractors for undertaking advanced projects in the region as well world.
(a) Light weapons and ammunition: It has achieved proficiency in the manufacture of articles such as light weapons and ammunition, rockets and artillery, shipbuilding, tactical remotely piloted vehicles (RPA), and armoured vehicles.
(b) Support Service: UAE defence industry today offer a growing number of support services in logistics as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) across a range of military and civilian platforms and systems.
(c) Development of electronics and systems engineering: It exceled in the fields of electronics and systems engineering, where a number of UAE contractors are able to take on increasingly complex projects in the area of systems integration and communications technologies.
(d) Innovation & Permanent Research Centers: It developed many strategic and research studies centers in the country which has fostered innovation capability and knowledge-based excel which created technical expertise among the Emiratis
(e) Introduction of new concepts: It developed high calibre international consultants to drive long-term development and offer a conduit for exploring, adopting, and stress-testing new concepts and technologies for the UAE Armed Forces.
(f) Value-addition: It developed a value chain in technical capacity-building and human resources. It promoted tailored higher education, vocational training, and research programs in areas such as electronics, systems engineering, and the computer sciences, to feed into the system in the different colleges and universities of the UAE.
(g) Strategic Asset Acquisitions: It is hoped that it will combine with the strategic asset acquisitions, rising operator skillsets and proficiencies at home, and application of lessons learned from operational engagements with regional and international allies to build the core competencies, which will carry defence transformation in the UAE Armed Forces towards its networked future.
(h) Cyber-Security: UAE leadership is also undertaking steps to place the nation at the regional forefront of cybersecurity efforts a critical requisite for developing towards increasingly network-based operations. The establishment of the National Electronic Security Agency (NESA) will develop, oversee and assure national standards in ICT and network security the National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS), Critical Information Infrastructure Policy (CIIP) and The UAE Information Assurance (IA) Standards represent the first steps of these long-term efforts.
(i) Strengthening of National Unity: UAE has introduced compulsory national service in the country. Under this program, thousands of young UAE men will serve in the armed forces for a year before becoming part of a military reserve force that will enhance the national readiness against the nature of threats that now rapidly spreading around the region. Over time, the UAE Armed Forces will grow a national reserve force composed of UAE citizens that will be able to support the regular forces whenever national duty calls. As such, the UAE is successfully setting its armed forces on a trajectory that offers considerable promise and potential in terms of development outlook far beyond the picture captured by analyses that are limited to measuring tangible metrics such as expenditure trends and major acquisition schedules. It is also an outlook that will benefit the region and allies of the UAE, for it strengthens the future of a model for national growth and development that the UAE has worked so hard to build since 1971. It is a model that is based on investing as much in manpower together with technology, and in being an international force of moderation that supports global peace and stability and uses its wealth to ensure social justice at home and providing assistance to the needy outside.

Latest Trends

According to an international defence report (April, 2014), territorial disputes with Iran, combined with its recent advances in ballistic missile technology, have driven the UAE to focus on the development of its own aircraft and missile systems, which accounted for 96 percent of the country’s total defense procurements during 2004–2009. Currently the UAE accounts for 4.9 percent of global arms imports, making it the world’s fourth-largest defense importer. maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of existing defense systems.

Multiplier Effects of its advanced defence industry

The UAE is at the forefront of defence and military industries in the region which will reduce the country’s dependence on oil and on imports from foreign countries of such weapons. The UAE’s military industries had established international reputation with capabilities ranging from air to land to maritime and manufacturing. “Its military industries have pursued more sophisticated, high tech capabilities, benefitting from joint ventures with major international companies that have led to technology transfer and helped increase Emirati experience and skills.

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UAE is doing its best to be self-sufficient through joint ventures that provide its national cadres with sufficient knowhow and knowledge to invent equipment and devices that meet itsr future needs. The UAE defence industries cover the production of a wide range of products including portable arms, ammunition, naval vessels (construction and repair) and inflatable boats, aircraft systems (unmanned, structural parts, spare parts, engine maintenance and repair, ground support equipment), vehicles and vehicle superstructures which shows it diversity and expertise as well.

Thanks to the visionary leadership of the United Arab Emirates has now successfully developed serious military capabilities in the GCC and MENA. Compared to others in the Gulf, there is unity of purpose and effort in the Emirati national security system which is the national deterrence towards terrorism, extremism, and any kind of external aggression.

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