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UAE 39th Armed Forces Unification Day

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


“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.”

Most recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrated its 39th Armed Forces unification day. Unification Day of Armed Forces stands for unity, dignity and determination. It signified the founding fathers’ strategic vision about security and stability of the country. It glorifies the strong willpower and determination that are cornerstones on which the UAE and its achievements were built. It speaks for bravery, stands for loyalty, dedication. It is the will of building country’s institutions and unification of UAE our Armed Forces.

High Tributes to Late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan & the Federal Supreme Council


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 39 years ago. The Federal Supreme Council had unified the UAE Armed Forces under one flag and one command on May 6, 1976.

Unique Model of Armed Forces Unification

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the unique model for the successful unification of its armed forces in the region and as well as in the world. Right from the beginning, UAE under successive visionary leadership institutionalized strong armed forces by gradually increasing its military capabilities and moreover modernizing its weaponry. It guarantees smooth sailing of governance, territorial sovereignty and national pride. It leads the way of glory, durable peace, and sustainable socio-economic development.

Following are given the statements of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President, 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 which highlight the significance, utility, performance and role of UAE Armed Forces in the times of war & peace.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President of UAE


His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President has congratulated his people on the 39th Anniversary of the Unification of the Armed Forces.

Sheikh Khalifa said the country had the insight of its founding father, Sheikh Zayed, to thank for its security and stability.

Unification of Armed Forces: A Wise and Visionary Step

He told the Ministry of Interior’s magazine National Shield that the decision to unify the Armed Forces was a wise, visionary step taken by the Rulers of the seven emirates, and a strategic vision of future challenges.

“The security, stability and peace we enjoy today, as well as the unity of our land and people and Armed Forces, are the result of their insight,” he said.

UAE: Advocator of Peace and Justice

The President, Sheikh Khalifa rightly projected that:-

“We would like to point out here that our efforts to establish sustainable self-reliance in defence are directed only against those who think of threatening our existence, for we are advocates of peace and justice, and we support the rule of law and legitimacy everywhere.”

The President also extended his greetings to the people of the UAE and thanked them for past and future efforts to preserve the union and its achievements.

Emerging Challenges and UAE’s Resolve

He said the region had experienced complicated situations that posed unprecedented challenges, but the UAE was able to face them.

Sheikh Khalif highlighted the UAE Armed Forces valuable services to counter terrorism in different places which have been an important part of the Arab alliance to restore legitimacy in Yemen, and will always be keen on its stability.

Heroism and Courage of Armed Forces

Sheikh Khalif applauded the heroism and courage of his Armed Forces in the optimal performance in their different missions. These challenges require us to keep complete vigil and to boost cohesion between the command, people, Armed Forces and all security bodies, in order to handle any dangers that may threaten our domestic peace, great achievements and our successful development process he added.

National Realization

Sheikh Khalif was of the view that it can only be realised through a united stand, dissemination of national awareness, values of loyalty and belonging, development of civil and military human resources, and precaution in dealing with disruptive issues.”

Further Strengthening of the Capabilities of the Armed Forces

He also promised to further strengthening of the capabilities of the Armed Forces by maintaining standards and enhancing the performance of commanders, officers and soldiers.

Achieving of Self-Sufficiency

Sheikh Khalif stressed the need to achieve self-sufficiency in ammunition, arms, experts and trainers through the promotion of defence industries sector. And with the help of God, we will achieve what we aspire to,” he said.

The President congratulated the Rulers of all the emirates, and complimented them on their efforts and calls to duty.

Performing of Honourable Roles

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President of UAE confidently stated that:-

“We are quite confident that you will continue to perform your honourable roles to protect your present and future and provide security, peace and a decent life for future generations,”

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai


The Armed Forces have played a positive role in providing justice to regional countries, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on the occasion of 39th Armed Forces Unification Day.

Role of Armed Forces in Operation Decisive Storm

Sheikh Mohammed said the forces had played a vital role in Operation Decisive Storm, and now in Restoring Faith, in Yemen.

Importance of Collective Security System

Sheikh Mohammed was optimistic that the joint Arab actions had strengthened hopes and efforts into establishing a strong and coherent Arab structure that provided the collective security system, with the effect of deterring the enemy and providing requirements for protecting Arab countries and societies from any risks that threaten them.

Legitimate, National and Humanitarian Duty

Sheikh Mohammed rightly labelled UAE’s support to Yemeni people as a legitimate, national and humanitarian duty in preserving them from forces of oppression and aggression, by confronting the dangers that targeted Arab presence and threatened the security and stability of the region, its countries and peoples.

“Our country is taking a step into the future and we are more confident, able and efficient in relying on the minds and strength of the sons and daughters of this country he added.

Foremost Priority

Sheikh Mohammed assured that Armed Forces will continue to develop its capabilities, which is a priority, and that is because our individual strength is the key to security, peace and stability of our nation and a sustainable umbrella of development and progress.

“Without providing reasons of self-strength, the talk of peaceful coexistence, good neighbourliness and problem-solving by dialogue has no value, weight or context he added.

Importance of Vigilance

Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE must remain vigilant at this time of turmoil in the region. He advised that the Government, Armed Forces, State Security and community must preserve the highest levels of vigilance. And we are, with the Grace of Allah, alert and assured of our abilities to cope with all possible dangers he added.

Positive Interaction

Sheikh Mohammed stressed the need to have a positive interaction with the changes in the world by always aligning with the truth, justice and helping those in need.

Cohesion of People with Leaders

Sheikh Mohammed said that “We have to depend on the cohesion of our people with the leaders, and have a strong and mature relationship with sister countries.”

The Vice President said the legacy of the country’s founder, Sheikh Zayed, was continuing with the accomplishments of the children of the UAE.

“Here are our Armed Forces, strong to protect the nation and safeguard its independence and sovereignty, and spread safety and security in the land,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

National Military Cadres: Models of Loyalty, Belonging and Efficiency

The Vice President highlighted the importance of the national military cadres by saying them models of loyalty, belonging and efficiency. He said his military sector provided the needs of arming and supporting the development of plans to deepen and diversify the economy, and contributed effectively in the formation of generations that are experts and technicians in advanced technologies and cutting-edge industries.”

He said 39th anniversary marked the UAE’s march in building a nation and strengthening its policies to continue developing.

“Building our Armed Forces is one of the most important chapters that we have written, with faith, will, vision, hard work and leaders’ giving with no borders leaders who have worked to progress the country and achieve its developments to keep its stability and security, and to ensure a great life to their citizens.

According to him this day has a special place in our history with the coherences on building the nation, country, society, infrastructure, economy and organisations.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces


His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has stressed that the UAE will spare no effort in helping Arab nations to live in peace and stability and to overcome foreign interference and destructive schemes that threaten to undermine.

His Highness told the “Nation Shield” journal on the 39th anniversary of the Unification of the Armed Forces that the UAE does not seek to promote its political position, but rather aspires to contribute to restoring balance in the region by restoring stability and security.

“On a day like this, 39 years ago, our Armed Forces joined arms and stood under one banner and one flag to defend a nation that was built with the bare hands of Emirati men and women. Thirty-nine years later, our brothers and sisters continue to serve this great nation by joining the ranks of the Armed Forces, defending the UAE’s achievements and deterring its enemies. Today, we celebrate the Anniversary of the Unification of the Armed Forces in peace, prosperity and vigilance he added.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan extended his greetings to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE and the Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, along with their brothers the Members of the Supreme Council, the Rulers of the Emirates.

He also greeted every single member of the Armed Forces. I salute your hard work, your patriotism and your selfless and boundless giving. Your nation is proud of you, appreciates your contributions and prospers because of your bravery and courage he added.

Historic Leap of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Father of the Nation

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also mentioned different stages of the unification of armed forces by saying that

“The story of the unification began in 1976, when the members of the Supreme Council, led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the father of the nation, took the historic leap of unifying our armed forces as part of their pursuit to strengthen the federation and bolster its foundations. The founding fathers believed that the spirit of the union demanded the full integration of our institutions. It was this belief that inspired the historic decision to unify the Armed Forces under one banner and one command. The decision fulfilled the aspirations of our people”.

Valuable Services of UAE Armed Forces


His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces mentioned different meaningful engagements of the UAE armed forces especially in ongoing Operation Decisive Storm for the preserving of the constitutional legitimacy of Yemen. The participation came on the heels of Operation Decisive Storm where members of our Air Force performed heroically. He also stated UAE Armed Forces are also effectively participating in the international effort to combat the menace of the so-called Islamic State, the barbaric terrorist group that has wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria. We are filled with pride for the heroic actions of our airmen and airwomen who have carried out these missions. We salute them for defending our nation and safeguarding the peace and development that we have worked so hard to achieve he added.

Guaranteeing the Security and Stability of the Member States of the GCC

He highlighted that UAE foreign policy based in based on fairness and aims at guaranteeing the security and stability of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council permitted to participate in the Operation Decisive Storm. These principles are inspired by the charters of the United Nations and the Arab League as well as the rules of international law he added.

Security Challenges

He said the Middle East faced a number of security challenges that threatened the sovereignty, integrity, and even the existence, of several Arab countries. Therefore, we understand that our responsibility is not limited to our homeland, and feel a great sense of responsibility towards the security of our sisterly Arab nations. Our support towards maintaining the security of Arab people is consistent with the longstanding and unshakable policy of the UAE, under the leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan he explained.

UAE’s Commitments

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan assured the UAE will spare no effort in helping Arab nations to live in peace and stability and to overcome foreign interference and destructive schemes that threaten to undermine them and spread chaos.

Strategic Importance of 6th May 1976

6th May marks the 39th Unification Anniversary of the Armed Forces of United Arab Emirates which symbolizes the strong 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 was a glorious day in history of the UAE when its Armed Forces was unified under one flag and one command to be an impregnable shield to defend the nation and its achievements. It was the day of appreciation for UAE’s men in uniform. The UAE Armed Forces day is also celebrated with zeal and pride every year.

UAE Armed Forces Unification

Different Important Stages Details
Stage I Coast of Oman Scouts
Stage II Trucial Emirates Force later as Defense Force
Stage III Unified Armed Forces
Source: National Shield Journal (May, 2015)

Nation Shield’s Articles/Reports

Different research papers and articles of different journals especially “Nation Shield” indicate that the unification of the UAE armed forces had not been smooth and easy but ultimately the strong political will of the visionary leadership prevailed which strengthened the Federation, developed and upgraded the armed forces in its all aspects and acquired vast knowledge in the different military fields. It gradually unleashed a comprehensive process to bring in state-of-the-art weaponry and acquired 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.

Unification of Armed Forces and Foreign Policy’s Correlation

Unification of armed forces and UAE foreign policy has direct correlation. It has been one of the main pillars of its foreign policy since its inception. It created strategic cushion to combat any foreign aggression and strived always for good neighbourly relations. Throughout its history, armed forces have been playing a major role in humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations in the country, region and around the world. It has been one of its leading organs of soft image drive.

UAE Armed Forces at International Forums

UAE armed forces have been doing wonders in different international peacekeeping missions around the globe. 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.

Valuable Services of UAE Armed Forces Details
Important part of the Arab Deterrent Force UAE played very important role to maintain peace in Lebanon (1976).
Hope Revival It helped the Somali (1992) people and turned tears into smiles.
Safety of Kuwait It joined in the liberation of Kuwait (1991).
Relief Missions It rigorously participated in different relief missions starting from Kosovo (1999), Pakistan (2004, 2010), Syria, Lebanon and Yemen etc.
Sources: Different News-items published UAE Daily English Newspapers

The above given table clearly shows the valuable services of UAE Armed Forces towards peacekeeping missions and humanitarian operations in the different parts of the GCC, MENA, and around the globe.

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 roles include 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 UAE Government’s desire to see a Muslim presence in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, which includes work on new schools, medical clinics and mosques.

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.

Concluding Remarks


Prevailing geo-political and geo-strategic challenges of stability and security in the GCC and MENA once again reconfirms the strategic vision of UAE Founding Fathers towards Unification of Armed Forces. It has now become “strategic asset”.

Secrete of UAE Armed Forces successes depend upon the ideal combination of modern weaponry, professionalism and passion towards the protection of its motherland. Sense of national duty, strong political wisdom and commitment transformed the role of armed forces as facilitators of sustained macro-economy, stabilized system, society and above all guarantors of national pride and sovereignty.

UAE is an independent and sovereign country which has its own indigenous modern Defence System of production & surveillance to cope all the merging trends in and beyond the region. Thanks to successive rulers and visionary leadership of UAE because unification of the UAE Armed Forces proved to be a turning point that helping it to further strengthening of its regional and international presence. Long Live Armed Forces of UAE.

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