UAE Presidential Guard Command
The UAE Presidential Guard is a military unit that operates outside the conventional framework of traditional armed forces like ground, marine and air forces. The UAE Presidential Guard differs in organisation, armament, training – and ultimately the missions it undertakes. Formally established in the 2010-2011 timeframe, the Presidential Guard was said to have been born out of the merger of several UAE Armed Forces units brought together under one command and one flag, which operates on land, sea and air. It is unclear whether the "Presidential Guard" designation is simply intended to reflect the elite status of the unit, or whether it also performs regime defense functions as well, but in truth it is probably a bit of both. It is, however, clearly a combat formation, and in no sense simply the Emirati counterpart of the American Secret Service.
The Presidential Guard was expected by the country’s leadership to be the premier fighting unit in the U.A.E. Armed Forces. In accordance with this mandate, the Presidential Guard is currently training with various U.S. military personnel in an effort to build their knowledge of military training best practices. In fact, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, specifically asked for U.S. Marine guidance in developing a warrior ethos for this elite unit of U.A.E. Soldiers.
The U.A.E. Special Operations Command (SOC), a unit of the Presidential Guard, is a small but effective force focused on the counter-terrorism mission within the U.A.E. The SOC is well-financed, trained, and equipped and currently has soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, the only Arab personnel undertaking full-scale operations in the country. The SOC is an elite unit of a few thousand troops, utilizing Black Hawk helicopters and Boeing Chinook transport helicopters to carry out their missions.
By 2007 the UAE was working to acquire its own fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 "Black Hawk" helicopters to replace its French-built Pumas. The UAE desired an adaptable platform that could be used for everything from transportation to chasing down Iranian smuggling vessels and general border security. The UAE was working with private US military contractor Blackwater to acquire the Black Hawks, but that they were running into several problems -- including some with the manufacturer Sikorsky. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ) reviewed defense cooperation and training issues and ongoing operations in Afghanistan with U.S. SOCOM Commander General Bryan "Doug" Brown in February 2007 in Abu Dhabi. MbZ told Brown that the UAE is interested in acquiring Black Hawk helicopters and requested both technical and training assistance from the US.
The Presidential Guard may or may not be related to that "secret" American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom. Prince, who resettled in Abu Dhabi 2010 after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Prince does not run or own the company Reflex Responses, which has a contract with the government of the U.A.E. to train and deliver the troops, according to the company president, Michael Roumi. In contrast to the "secret" mercenary army of Erik Prince, and the generallly secretive Emirati military, the Presidential Guard has an elaborate website, and seems quite hungry for publicity - possibly a case of hiding something out in the open.
The Presidential Guard is one of the UAE Armed Forces units which do not follow the regular path of the other units, such as the Land Force, Navy and the Air Force and Air Defense, in terms of organization, armament, training, and its tasks within and outside the UAE, additional to UAE VIPs protecting tasks. Therefore, the Presidential Guard establishment’s idea received great and special attention from H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, which caused great evolution in this special unit through merging of some Armed Forces units under one command and one flag, which finally resulted the declaration of this strike force, within the UAE Armed Forces, which called the Presidential Guard.
The Presidential Guard Aviation, also known as "Group 18", operates Black Hawk and other helicopters from a base called Sas Al Nakhl (OMNK). Eurocopter has a maintenance center in the United Arab Emirates with long customer support services for the UAE Navy and UAE Presidential Guard. An element in Eurocopter's local presence strategy is its agreement with Global Aerospace Logistics, LLC, establishing this Abu Dhabi-based supplier of professional aerospace services in the United Arab Emirates as a provider of routine customer support services for the UAE Navy and UAE Presidential Guard Command including new spare parts, repairs, training and technical publications.
The Foreign Military sales (FMS) agreement between the United States Government and the United Arab Emirates provides for the Marine Corps to provide training to the UAE Presidential Guard with the UAE Marine Corps Training Mission - United Arab Emirates (MCTM-UAE). Officers of the United Arab Emirates Presidential Guard visited 1st Marine Division units at their respective areas, 08 March 2011. The visit was part of UAE’s effort to build the foundation of their newly established Presidential Guard’s training regimen and military capabilities, said Maj. Randy G. Turner, Marine Forces Central Command liaison officer. Their trip began at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, March 7, where they observed how recruits are shaped into Marines.
The UAE Crown Prince specifically asked for U.S. Marine guidance in developing a warrior ethos for the Presidential Guard. "It's important because the UAE is a critical partner to the United States and further because the US Marine Corps is committed to a long term relationship with the UAE's Presidential Guard. It was a great experience for our Marines and sailors to interact with such a professional force," said Lt. Col. Joseph R. Clearfield, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.
By late 2012 the US Marine Corps was creating a small rotational force that will make yearlong deployments to the United Arab Emirates and help build the Persian Gulf nation’s defense capabilities. Expected to number about 30, the group of Marines will provide regular small-unit training for UAE military personnel, to include instruction on tactics and the use of small arms.
International Golden Group is the first UAE-based private joint stock company primarily focused on supplying advanced technology-driven solutions to major security and defence organisations such as the UAE Armed Forces, the Presidential Guard Command, the UAE Ministry of Interior, and Abu Dhabi’s Critical National Infrastructure Authority. It has extensive experience supporting government agencies in systems integration projects and providing turnkey integrated products and system infrastructures.
Fidelity Technologies Corporation, located in Reading, PA, became the newest member of the United Arab Emirates’ Presidential Guard (UAE PG) partnering corporations in August 2012. Fidelity was selected as the provider of three fully immersive simulators that collectively form a dynamic, interactive and deployable capability unlike any other training system in the world, further positioning this US Defense Contractor as the world leader in Joint Fires and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) simulation environments. With the Fidelity Extreme Product Line (FidEX) the Simulation and Training division has restructured a highly successful program infrastructure in order to meet the high demands of operational tempo and military training support.
Humanitarian projects in healthcare, education and the provision of basic infrastructure are regularly threatened by violence and instability in Afghanistan. Criminal and insurgent forces continue to threaten the safety and stability of local communities, and regularly seek to undermine the success of humanitarian and community development initiatives being delivered by international organizations.
As a result, it has been necessary for the UAE to maintain a military support presence in effected provinces to protect the personnel of humanitarian organizations and to provide the stability necessary for humanitarian projects to succeed. It is the opinion of the UAE that humanitarian projects in healthcare, education and the provision of basic infrastructure cannot succeed, as they should, in an environment of ongoing instability.
From the perspective of the UAE, the presence of its military personnel in Afghanistan is therefore necessary to contribute to the establishment of an environment of safety and stability, in order to allow the many humanitarian projects underway in that country to succeed.
In accordance with the UAE Constitution, the UAE’s Armed Forces can, and will, only be used for defensive purposes. The work of the UAE Armed Forces in Afghanistan is guided by this principle, and personnel are focused on the protection of humanitarian initiatives and the provision of safety and stability for local communities. Through its work in Afghanistan, the UAE seeks to extend the protections it offers its own citizens at home, in the area of national security, to the citizens of Afghanistan during its current period of need.
The UAE Armed Forces are also directly involved in culturally- sensitive community development activities, alongside representatives of key humanitarian organizations such as the Red Crescent. The language skills and cultural awareness of UAE Armed Forces personnel represent a significant advantage in the delivery of effective community development initiatives in a Muslim country such as Afghanistan. The construction of mosques and provision of observance materials by UAE Armed Forces personnel, for example, meets a specific cultural need of the local community and is considered to be an essential element of successful community development in many parts of Afghanistan.
The Government of the UAE is proud of the important work its humanitarian and Armed Forces personnel have been conducting in Afghanistan since 2003. Despite the ongoing need, recent achievements in healthcare, education and the provision of basic infrastructure can in part be directly and indirectly attributed to the work of the UAE Armed Forces in the provision of safety, stability and culturally-sensitive community development.
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