ABU DHABI: Senior international military leaders at the Gulf Defence Conference discussed on Saturday major security and military challenges to the Mena region and collective ways to confront them.
Under the distinguished patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, the conference was held at the Armed Forces Officers Club, Abu Dhabi.
“It offers a bridge to share military equipment and know-how. No country has a good military without an effective and efficient tri-service defence; land, air and sea,” stressed the President of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) Maj Gen Khaled Al Bu-Ainnain.
The French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that the Middle East was a focal point in combating international terrorism and nuclear proliferation. “We need to undertake common security grounds and a solid international defence strategy.”
Le Drian discussed the Iranian nuclear programme, combating terrorism, the threat in case Syrian chemical stockpiles end up in wrong hands besides piracy in Somalia.
“We seek a peaceful solution to the Iranian programme and a political solution to the Syrian war. France seeks to achieve humanitarian goals in both countries,” he explained.
“Terrorism has developed into a global crisis. We have a menace in Mali where perpetrators try to create a safe haven. Stability in the Mena region necessitates the existence of a special force with a special capacity,” he explained, thanking North African countries in siding with France on Mali.
On behalf of the UAE Armed Forces, the National Defence College Commandant Major General Rashad Mohamed Al Saadi stated, “The oil-rich region faces major challenges in all fields with terrorism at the head.
“The region’s economy and trade essentially depend on sea ports. Thus the UAE plays a key role because the Gulf’s maritime security is of international interest.”
The United Kingdom’s Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, MP, discussed reasons why Britain accords priority to the Gulf in its strategic relationships.
“More than ever, our economies and culture are increasingly intertwined. Our bilateral trade has increased by 39 per cent over the last two years alone.
“A threat to this region is a threat to our common interest: stability. Terrorist networks share intelligence and training and respect no territorial boundaries, thus we need to share expertise and play collective defensive roles.”
Commanding General, Third Army/ US Army Central, Lieutenant Vincent K. Brooks, underlined, “Technology unquestionably improves the effectiveness of land forces. Sophisticated cyber activities pose a modern-day challenge.
“No country can address its military challenges independently. Our mission in the Gulf is to help improve military strategies and this includes carrying out joint operations to secure borders.”
The plenary conference was attended by more than 400 decision-makers including generals, admirals, distinguished guests and delegations some of whom addressed an array of subjects related to global security.
It’s a precursor to the International Defence Exhibition where military companies will showcase their systems and technologies from Feb.17 -21.