x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Military special forces to meet at Amman conference

The Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference is the only conference in the Middle East that tackles special ops.

Tawazun military vehicles being put through their paces in a desert exercise last year.  Delores Johnson / The National
Tawazun military vehicles being put through their paces in a desert exercise last year. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Special forces in regional militaries will gather in Amman on Monday for the start of the Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference (Mesoc).

Running alongside the Special Operations Forces Exhibition, the event will gather more than 500 delegates from special-operations forces and industry partners to provide the latest insights into the changing operational environment and the latest in technology applications.

“Mesoc is the only conference in the Middle East that tackles special operations,” said Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “It is today the spine of any modern military and it is the force that spearheads all the major military operations in countering terrorism, insurgency and defence and offensive operations against any aggression.”

The four-day exhibition will include a day of seminars conducted by top military officials from around the world, tackling issues related to counter-terrorism and homeland security.

“Special forces are essential,” he said. “They’re the elite of the elite of the military and they’re the ones who get things done for the military, so we have this conference to bring special operators together from various countries to exchange views on tactics, techniques and strategies, and to be introduced to technologies that are meant to make their jobs easier in logistics, firepower and in self-protection.”

The UAE delegation will include generals, as well as several officers and staff from procurement and the special forces.

“Special operations is the force that descends behind enemy lines and countering piracy,” Mr Kahwaji said.

“It’s the force today that plays a big role in peacekeeping operations around the world.”

It will be the first time the UAE will have its own speaker at the conference, the commander of the special operations battalion.

“They have a good delegation and about six companies from the UAE are taking part in the exhibition, including Tawazun and Idex, at the country’s pavilion,” he said. “They will be showcasing their products which serve special operations, and Tawazun is the biggest participant from the UAE.”

Tawazun produces several products that are used by special operators, such as Caracal rifles and pistols as well as Nimer armoured vehicles.

“The region is unstable and it needs such types of armoured vehicles,” said Aleksey Yermolayev, territory manager of the military division at Dubai-based Streit Group FZE, which manufactures armoured vehicles and works with the UAE Armed Forces.

“The demand is very big and we’re trying to stay in the trend. Every exhibition like this one is important.”

He said developing the military field in the region was vital.

“This is why we’ve been diversifying for the past three to four years,” he said. “About 78 per cent of our factory [produces] military, law-enforcement, armoured and police vehicles.”

Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace business, said the primary focus of every government across the Middle East today was to create security and defence infrastructure to protect sovereignty and to be able to defend itself against internal and external threats.

“Developing strong counter-terrorism strategies and capacity is no longer an option but a necessity,” he said. “No amount of infrastructure investment and development is of any value without the simultaneous investment in defence and security infrastructure to protect the sovereignty of a country. Part of this process is the creation of a defence capability in-country.

“I believe that the next generation of defence projects in the region will be through the creation of partnerships in each client’s country.” Mr Ichikowitz said. “The days of direct procurement are over.”

The 75,000-square-metre indoor and outdoor exhibition space will showcase the world’s largest fully integrated and innovative special-operations forces, homeland security and peacekeeping forces equipment and solutions from around the world.

cmalek@thenational.ae