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Kuwaiti Army

Under the constitution, the amir is the supreme commander of the armed forces. The minister of defense directs the armed forces through the chief of general staff. The National Guard has its own commander, who reports directly to the minister of defense. The public security forces are all under the minister of interior. The minister of defense in early 1993, Ali as Sabah as Salim Al Sabah, had been shifted from the Ministry of Interior as part of the military shakeup after the gulf war. The ruling family maintained a tight grip on the centers of power, including many senior posts in the security services.

Before the Iraqi invasion, the army's manpower strength was 16,000 officers and enlisted men. The principal combat formations were three armored brigades, one mechanized infantry brigade, and one artillery brigade with a regiment of self-propelled howitzers and a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) battalion. All the combat units were under strength; by one estimate, as of 1988 the army's entire fighting strength was the equivalent of only one Western brigade.

Its first-line main battle tanks are M-84s, Yugoslav versions of the Soviet T-72 tank. The army has various models of British armored cars and armored personnel carriers (APCs). Its artillery consists of 155mm self-propelled howitzers, mainly of French manufacture. It has a large inventory of antitank missile systems of British, French, and United States origin, including the improved TOW (tube-launched, optically sighted, wire-guided) missile from the United States. It has purchased the Soviet FROG7 , a mobile battlefield missile with a range of sixty kilometers. In 1984, after the United States rejected a Kuwaiti order for Stinger shoulder-fired SAMs, Kuwait turned to Moscow for air defense weapons, purchasing SA-7 and SA-8 SAMs and ZSU-23-4 antiaircraft guns.

The Iraqi invasion in the early hours of August 2 was detected by a balloon-borne early warning radar, but the army had insufficient time to mount any organized resistance. Some contingents continued a small-unit defense, including those equipped with Chieftain tanks. About 7,000 soldiers escaped to Saudi Arabia; the remainder were killed or captured or participated in the internal resistance movement. Some Mirage and Skyhawk aircraft carried out attacks on the advancing Iraqi columns; when their air base in southern Kuwait was overrun, they flew to Saudi Arabian bases, as did some of the armed helicopters.

According to Norman Friedman, author of a study on the strategy and tactics of the Persian Gulf War, the Kuwaiti forces participating in Operation Desert Storm in February 1991 included the 35th Armored Brigade (renamed Martyr Brigade), the 15th Infantry Brigade, and the lightly equipped Liberation Brigade, which was armed with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on trucks. One source estimated that 7,000 Kuwaiti troops were involved. The Martyr Brigade was the first of the units of Joint Forces Command East in the drive paralleling the coast northward when the allied operation began on February 24, 1991. Along with Saudi, Qatari, and Bahraini forces, supported by United States marines on their left flank, their assignment of liberating the city of Kuwait incurred little Iraqi resistance.

Kuwaiti Army - Modernization

An estimate of the postwar strength of the Kuwaiti army, published in The Military Balance, 1992-1993, revealed the devastating effect of the Persian Gulf War. The disparate ground forces, estimated to number about 8,000, were to be reconstituted into four understrength mechanized and armored brigades, a reserve brigade, and an artillery brigade. Little matériel survived the war: some tanks, APCs, and 155mm guns. Kuwait's postwar equipment orders include 200 M-84 tanks (from Yugoslavia to offset previous Yugoslav oil purchases) and eighteen self-propelled 155mm guns from France. Kuwait also has received United States, Russian, and Egyptian armored vehicles.

Kuwait’s effort to rebuild its military was extensive. Kuwait continued major acquisitions of the Patriot missile system and MlA2 tanks, and by 1995 was considering a buy of Apache and Black Hawk and M10l09A6 howitzers. Other significant events during 1995 included a Presidential Determination authroizing the sale of M829 depleted uranium ammunition to Kuwait and the fielding of the missiles (Phase III) and the AH-64A Apache helicopter. The Hawk is a mature program, fully operational and all major equipment delivered. The Apache program had additional aircraft to be dehvered in 1996.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 10 August 2010 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kuwait of 209 MIM-104E PATRIOT Guidance Enhanced Missile-T (GEM-T) Missiles for an estimated cost of $900 million. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress July 20, 2012 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Kuwait for 60 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $4.2 billion. The Government of Kuwait has requested a possible sale of 60 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missiles, 4 PATRIOT radars, 4 PATRIOT Engagement Control Stations, 20 PATRIOT Launching Stations, 2 Information Coordination Centrals, 10 Electric Power Plants, communication and power equipment, personnel training and training equipment, spare and repair parts, facility design and construction, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics personnel services and other related elements of program and logistics support. The estimated cost is $4.2 billion.

On 16 October 2017 the US State Departmentmade a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kuwait for M1A1 Abrams Tanks. The estimated cost is $29 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

The Government of Kuwait requested a possible sale of two hundred eighteen (218) M1A1 Abrams tank hulls with 120mm cannons and two hundred eighteen (218) AGT-1500 (M1 Tank Series) engines in support of its M1A2 tank recapitalization. Also included are transportation and other logistics support. The estimated cost is $29 million.

This proposed sale would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country. Kuwait plays a large role in U.S. efforts to advance stability in the Middle East, providing basing, access, and transit for U.S. forces in the region.

This potential sale is associated with Congressional Notification 16-66 which was notified to Congress on December 12, 2016, regarding recapitalization of 218 Kuwait M1A2 tanks. Subsequent to the notification, Kuwait requested 218 M1A1 tank hulls from U.S. inventory be provided and upgraded vice using Kuwait’s current fleet of tanks due to its interest in maintaining operational readiness. Kuwait would have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support would not alter the basic military balance in the region. The M1A1 tank hulls would come from U.S. inventory. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:21:27 ZULU