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Minister of Defense and Aviation (MODA)

Under the king, who was president of the Council of Ministers (effectively prime minister) and commander in chief of the armed forces, the Minister of Defense and Aviation exercises operational control and supervision of the Royal Saudi Land Forces (army), the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the Royal Saudi Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces. The total personnel strength of the four services was estimated at 76,500 in 1991, rising to 106,000 in 1992.

A National Security Council (also known as the High Defense Council) had formal responsibility for setting defense policy. Its members included, in addition to the king and the minister of defense and aviation, the ministers of interior, foreign affairs, and finance and national economy, and the chief of staff of the armed forces. Ultimate decisions about security, however, rested solely with the king, assisted by such advisers as he chose to consult.

Senior personnel, frequently princes of the royal family, usually retained their positions for long periods in the Saudi system. The minister of defense and aviation, Amir Sultan, a full brother of the king, had been appointed to his position in 1962. Crown Prince Abd Allah, a half brother of the king, had been commander of the national guard for the same length of time. The chief of the general staff, with operational responsibility for the four services, held the rank of general; the chiefs of the individual services usually held the rank of lieutenant general.

Similar to the organization of military staffs in the United States, the Saudi armed forces had four major sections: personnel (G-1), intelligence (G-2), operations and training (G-3), and logistics (G-4). The chiefs of the four sections were the principal advisers to the chief of staff, who invariably has been an army officer. The armed forces were further distributed among nine area commands. Their mission was to defend the integrity of the country's borders and to protect the country against foreign encroachments or invasion. During episodes of severe internal disorder, the armed forces had the additional mission of assisting the security forces in restoring public order.

The national guard was under the personal control of the king acting through its commander, Amir Abd Allah, the heir apparent and first deputy prime minister. The national guard's command structure was entirely separate from that of the regular armed services. Its mission was primarily internal security, including protection of the major oil facilities in the Eastern Province and assistance to the regular forces of public order against civil disturbances. The service was also expected to assist the regular armed forces in repelling threats to the security of the kingdom's borders, as was the case when the national guard participated in the Persian Gulf War alongside regular army units.

Al Yamamah, the UK's largest export contract, signed in 1985 between the UK and Saudi Arabia governments, involves the provision of a complete defence package for the latter. BAE SYSTEMS was established as prime contractor, with overall responsibility for delivering the entire contract; this includes aircraft, associated hardware, radar, communications, support, construction and manpower for the Royal Saudi Air Force, and the supply and support of minehunters for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.

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Page last modified: 05-01-2013 19:26:39 ZULU