SUCCESS OF THE UAE DEFENSE STRATEGY: ACHIEVEMENTS AND OUTLOOK
By Riad Kahwaji, CEO, INEGMA Sabahat Khan, Senior Analyst, INEGMA
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is today the most highly regarded in terms of economic prosperity, governance, and future outlook among the Arab states. The scale of growth in the size of its cities and the pace of construction are unmatched in the region – perhaps even the world, with the exception of China. Rapid economic growth has placed the UAE under the international spotlight as a preferred destination for tourists and investors alike. For many, the level of progress and trajectory the UAE has achieved is difficult to believe given its modest beginnings and its location in a perpetually troubled Middle East. Heavy support for dispute resolution through diplomacy has been a key feature of the international strategy adopted by the UAE, as has confidence-building and dialogue. However, aware of threats surrounding them, UAE leaders have worked from day one on building national defense against the spectrum of threats to ensure an effective and robust deterrence against hostile forces and actors across the region. As the UAE has assumed a broadened role within the international community over the past few years, the UAE Armed Forces have intensified engagements with international partners and allies across a range of operational activities and interest areas.
The UAE Armed Forces have been recognized for their involvement in humanitarian missions for some time – having supported peacekeeping, humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts in places around the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa since the turn of the century. The UAE Armed Forces now work more closely than ever before with international allies such as the United States, France, and NATO, among others, participating in coalition activities such as the military campaigns in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. Indeed, the UAE Armed Forces can be expected to take on more responsibilities within international coalitions (whose formation is increasingly a matter of necessity) as they take shape in order to counter hostile forces and actors around the broader region that today present an increasingly immeasurable threat to international security. These developments are a reflection of the growing professional skillset and capabilities of the UAE Armed Forces, and point to the trust, confidence, and respect that allies of the UAE – many of whom have closely observed the development of UAE military from its modest origins – hold for its forces today.
Few observers would contend with the assertion that the preceding decade has seen the UAE Armed Forces move leaps and bounds ahead of its counterparts in the region. The UAE is looking to build on its achievements to date as it looks to the future and turns its focus on optimizing operational performance through the adoption of a network-centric approach and architecture for its armed forces. A network-centric approach delivers a substantial force multiplier effect by enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness, and reduces quantitative requirements on the force structure. It does this through integrating core capabilities in support of a shared multi-domain information and communications network which can deliver superior situational awareness to commanders and operators, facilitating rapid decision-making in support of the effects-based operational approach (EBOA). Few nations around the world are able to seriously pursue such a transformation but UAE defense strategy puts its military on a course that is comparable to development paths adopted by NATO-members rather than countries in its immediate neighborhood. As such, the UAE Armed Forces are increasingly well positioned to transform into a networked force, where superior situational awareness and a secure over-the-air communication network will provide the foundations for long range early warning, rapid response, and precision