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United Arab Emirates - Military Personnel

National military service in the United Arab Emirates consists of military exercises and compulsory lectures on patriotism. UAE President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved the law introducing mandatory military service for all Emirati men aged 18-30 in June 2014. Emirati men who have finished secondary school are to undergo military training for nine months, while others are to serve for two years. National service for women is optional, and first they have to receive written permission from their parents or guardians. Emirati men that fail to sign up for the service before they are 29 are to face a jail term of up to one year and a fine.

The ranking system is very severe in the UAE forces. A discriminative barrier between commissioned and non-commissioned officers is so high that it is beyond imagination. Non-commissioned officers are not allowed to bring their cars into headquarters of the UAE presidential guard command. Local enlisted soldiers are called by their position titles rather than their names. They have no name tags.

Chairman of the National Service, General Pilot Shaikh Ahmad Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, is sure the military service will help young Emiratis become responsible citizens. You will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. Through military discipline, our youth will gain physical strength, endurance, knowledge, and spirit, Gulf News quoted Al Nahyan as saying to the recruits.

Hundreds of young Emiratis started registered for military service in special recruitment centers all over the country for the first time in history 14 July 2014. We are making history as we join the national service as the first exemplary batch, which is a big achievement and a matter of honor for us all, one of the recruits, Ganem Al Junaibi told the Gulf News. Registration for Emirati men was to last until July 17. Emirati women can also sign up for optional service from July 20 to July 24. Overall, some 7,000 Emiratis were to be called up for national military service by the beginning of September 2014.

A governing axiom driving the desire for more and better technology has its roots in the shallow talent pool available for the military to draw upon. The UAE population is slightly over 800,000; attracting qualified personnel to man the national defenses is a perennial challenge. Replacing human capital with equipment is thus seen as inherently positive. Although more technology leads to greater maintenance needs, many of those needs are met by foreign nationals, who represent a problem solved by budget resources, not Emirati human resources. Third Country Nationals, whether functioning as contractors or commissioned into the uniformed services, still present a Third Party Transfer barrier for high technology US defense articles.

In 2004 total active troops were estimated at 50,500 personnel: army, 44,000; navy, 2,500; and air force, 4,000. Estimates in 2005 raised the total to 59,000 personnel. In early 2007, total active troops were estimated at 65,500 personnel: army, 59,000; navy, 2,500; and air force, 4,000. The massive increase in the strength of the Army is a bit difficult to understand. Some sources suggested that the 59,000 number is authorized end strength, while the 44,000 number references troops actually on hand. Alternately, this may reflect a common confusion between the term "army" taken to be all armed forces versus the term "army" restricted to simply land forces.

By the early 1990s perhaps 30 percent of the armed services consist of foreigners / ex-pats, although other sources claim that the forces had a much higher proportion of non-UAE nationals. At that time the UAE lacked a conscription system, and seemed unlikely to adopt one, though eventually it did. In the absence of conscription, service is voluntary for UAE citizents, of whom there are perhaps a million, with perhaps 5,000 men reaching militarily significant age annually. Several sources place the actual end-strength of the Land Forces at 44,000. To maintain this end-strength with only UAE nationals would require essentially the entire age cohort to enter military service upon reaching the 18 years of age required for voluntary military service, and remain in service for about eight years. This is not plausible, but it does suggest that the contrary case is probably much closer to the truth, that there are in fact very few UAE nationals in the enlisted ranks.

Omanis are said by some sources to predominate in the enlisted ranks, but there are also many Pakistanis among the more than twenty nationalities represented. There are also said to be many Egyptians, Moroccans, Sudanese, and Baluch troops. Well into the 1980s, many mid-level officers were Britons under contract, as well as Pakistanis and Omanis. By 1991 the officer corps was composed almost exclusively of amirate nationals, according to the Department of State. It was announced in 1990 that all university students would undergo military training as a requirement for graduation. Although adopted as a reaction to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the UAE authorities reportedly are considering continuation of the requirement as a possible prelude to reservist training.

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Page last modified: 03-04-2018 18:12:26 ZULU