x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

1991: Military college transformed forces

As one former chief of staff described it, opening the college was one of the greatest accomplishments for the UAE Armed Forces.

ABU DHABI // Establishing the UAE military college in 1991 provided soldiers with a training facility at home, officials said, creating self-sufficiency and ending the hassle of travelling to other countries for training.

Soldiers were initially sent to Jordan, Egypt or Pakistan to learn military skills. When they came back, they were distributed to different units, where ideally they helped build the quality of the troops around them.

But the military college changed all that. As one former chief of staff described it, opening the college was one of the greatest accomplishments for the UAE Armed Forces.

Sheikh Faisal Al Qassimi, one of the main figures behind making the college happen, said he was sent with a letter from the founding President, Sheikh Zayed, to King Hussein of Jordan, asking him to provide a leader for the college.

Saleh Mustafa was the man chosen for the mission.

"In the beginning, the biggest challenge was finding qualified personnel," Sheikh Faisal said.

There was an extremely limited number of people who fit the requirements, especially in terms of having enough education.

However, he said, the team succeeded in recruiting 90 to 120 personnel for the college's first class.