Royal Army of Oman / Royal Oman Land Forces (ROLF)
Royal Army of Oman is the most senior of the three services. It was formed as Muscat Garrison in 1907. The Army became an independent service known as Sultan of Oman Land Forces. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, graciously presented the color to the Sultan of Oman Land Forces or Royal Oman Land Forces (ROLF). In 1990, his Majesty's orders were issued to change the title to the Royal Army of Oman. The army is the largest of the service branches with a strength of 20,000. The Sultanís forces at the beginning of the 20th century ranged from 50 or 60 armed men defending the Sultan against initial attacks to a rather large robust military that included armored cars, engineers, a navy and a modern air force by 1975. This force increased dramatically after the Sultan Qaboos took over in 1970. To lead such an expanded and modern force, the Sultan enlisted the help of the British.
Sultan Qaboos was aware of the situation which had gripped his country and was convinced of the need for swift action in order to contain the spread of malcontent and disillusionment. The first enemy which he addressed was the state of bi-polarity. By August 1970, he had unified the country, abolishing the title Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. Thus was born the geographical entity known as the Sultanate of Oman. This new name reflected the urgency in attaining social cohesion and national unity. At the same time, His Majesty replaced the plain red national flag with the distinctive red, white and green standard which is now flown across the country.
This period became characterised by new extremes in the internal contest for power. Sultan Qaboos resorted to military force in order to eliminate a group of renegades based in the south who repeatedly declined the opportunities extended to the Omani population. For five years the fledgling country was compelled to bear arms against internal factions, whilst concomitantly trying to build itself up. In 1975, these factions were finally vanquished and the country was able to devote its undivided attention to progress and modernisation.
Great Britain led a successful counterinsurgency effort in Oman from 1964 to 1975. The commander of Dhofar Brigade, whichwas always a British officer, commanded all of the Sultanís Forces to include naval andair assets while they were deployed to the war zone. There were four Omani infantry battalions within the SAF. The main fighting force of the Omani land forces in Dhofar consisted of two Omani infantry battalions and two Baluchi infantry battalions supported by the Oman artillery and an armored car squadron. Two were deployed to the war zone in Dhofar at a time while the other two were sent north to re-fit, re-arm, recover and re-train. These rotations varied depending on the ongoing missions, but they were roughly nine to ten months in length.
By 1990 the ROLF was organized into regiments, although each regiment is of no more than battalion size. It included two armored regiments composed of three tank squadrons; one armored reconnaissance regiment composed of three armored car squadrons; eight infantry regiments, three of which were staffed by Baluchis; four artillery regiments; one air defense regiment of two batteries; one infantry reconnaissance regiment composed of three reconnaissance companies; two independent reconnaissance companies; one airborne regiment; and one field engineering regiment of three squadrons. A small tribal militia of rifle company strength on the Musandam Peninsula is known as the Musandam Security Force.
One divisional headquarters and two brigade headquarters were maintained, within which the independent regiments could be combined into larger fighting units. The separate royal household troops consistedd of the RGO, the Special Forces elements, and personnel to staff the royal yacht and a number of transport aircraft and helicopters. The RGO, an elite corps with the primary function of protecting the sultan and performing ceremonial duties, has a separate identity within the ROLF but was trained to operate in the field alongside other army formations.
The two tank squadrons are equipped with United States M-60A1 and M-60A3 tanks and with British Chieftains. The armored car squadrons are outfitted with British Scorpion light tanks and French VBC-90s. The ROLF lacks armored equipment for troop movement, depending on Austrian Steyr cross-country vehicles. In July 1991, Oman ordered US$150 million worth of armored vehicles from the United States. The ROLF has a variety of towed artillery pieces; its principal antitank weapons are TOW and Milan guided missiles. Air defense was provided by a variety of guns and shoulder-fired SAMs.
Initially, nearly all the army officers and men were Baluchis from Pakistan, except for senior commanders, who were British. As of the early 1990s, most of the officers were Omanis, although British involvement continued, especially in the armored regiment. The training battalion of the RAF conducted recruit training for all services at the RAF training center near Muscat. Officer candidates--who must serve at least one year in the enlisted ranks--attend the Sultan Qabus Military College and the Officers' Training School. In 1988 the first class of twenty officers graduated from the Sultan's Armed Forces Command and Staff College near Muscat. This is a triservice school to prepare midranking officers for senior command and staff appointments. Officers of other government security services and some civilian officials also attend.
By 2010 battalion sized regiments remained the basic build-block of the land forces. The divisional headquarters seems to have been dispensed with. One Armored Brigade included two armored regiments composed of three tank squadrons and one armored reconnaissance regiment composed of three armored car squadrons. One of the tank regiments is equipped with United States M-60A1 and M-60A3 tanks, and the other with British Challenger-2, which have replaced the Chieftains. A total of nine infantry regiments and three artillery regiments are distributed between two Infantry Brigades, which also include a Signal Regiment, two Pioneer Regiments, a Transport Regiment, and a Parachute Infantry Regiment.
The Royal Army of Oman operates a specially desertised version of Challenger 2. The Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank was originally designed and procured for use in North West Europe during the Cold War. Additional measures (including additional air conditioning and extra cooling systems) would be necessary for the vehicle to be capable of operation in more extreme conditions. Some of the'desertisation' modifications include the 'Skirt Plate' which involved the incorporation of new seals, dust strips and track guard.
British Challenger 2s without these modifications deployed to Oman in Exercise "Saif Sareea" II (Swift Sword II) during September and October 2001. Soon after the beginning of the preliminary exercise phase, the UK Challenger 2 began to encounter difficulties owing to the peculiar characteristics of the fine dust thrown up by the tanks as they manuvered in the desert. This led to many engine air filters clogging after only four hours of usage. The nature and quantity of the dust led to the tanks' air filters becoming clogged at a much faster rate than anticipated. In North West Europe, the air filters are expected to last up to 12 months before requiring replacement in a normal training year. In the event, it emerged that the filters in Oman had an average life of four hours This is compared to the design specification of the filter of 14 hours in zero visibility. The fine nature of the sand, and its tendency to solidify led to significant clogging of the filters. This led to a daily consumption of 46 filters across the 66 vehicles. In addition to the filters, it had also become apparent that an additional quantity of road-wheels and track-pads would be required.
The Royal Guard of Oman (RGO) is an important element of Omanís modern military set-up and, with its infantry, armored and artillery units and their advanced equipment and systems, it has achieved a high standard of proficiency and combat capability. The RGO trains personnel on the full range of its systems and equipment and holds specialist courses at various different levels. Its Technical College produces highly qualified technical personnel. In addition to the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra (ROSO), the RGO also has three other military bands that perform on national occasions and other events at home and abroad. In addition to their security duties, the Red Helmets motor-cycle team stage stunning acrobatic displays, while the RGO free-fall parachute team and cavalry also attract enthusiastic crowds at various national events.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Oct. 18 of apossible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Oman for AVENGER Fire Units, STINGER Missiles and Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles, as well associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.248 billion. The Government of the Oman requested a possible sale of 18 AVENGER Fire Units, 266 STINGER-Reprogrammable Micro-Processor (RMP) Block 1 Anti-Aircraft missiles, 6 STINGER Block 1 Production Verification Flight Test missiles, 24 Captive Flight Trainers, 18 AN/VRC-92E exportable Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), 20 S250 Shelters, 20 High Mobility Multi-PurposeWheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), 1 lot AN/MPQ-64F1 SENTINEL Radar software, 290 AIM-120C-7 Surface-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, 6 Guidance Sections, Surface-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (SL-AMRAAM) software to support Omanís Ground Based Air defense System, training missiles, missile components, warranties, containers, weapon support equipment, repair and return, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 15 November 2012 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Oman for 400 Javelin Guided Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support. The Sultanate of Oman has requested a possible sale of 400 Javelin Guided Missiles, Javelin Weapon Effects Simulator (JAVWES), containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor representative logistics and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $96 million.
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