President says the army has contributed to the preservation of peace, security and stability, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and the Rulers of Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah also paying tribute
Sheikh Khalifa and UAE Rulers pay tribute to the Armed Forces on 42nd anniversary of unification
President Sheikh Khalifa has paid tribute to the Armed Forces as the military celebrates 42 years since unification.
Speaking to military journal Nation Shield, Sheikh Khalifa said May 6, 1976 is an important milestone in the UAE's journey.
''A unified and highly-qualified army is a source of reassurance and a fundamental component in building the state and deepening the values of belonging to the homeland and loyalty to the leadership,'' he told the journal in remarks that were reported by state news agency Wam.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai along with the Rulers of Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah also paid tribute to the military on the anniversary.
Sheikh Khalifa highlighted the importance of the development of the country's armed forces.
"As our country celebrates the 42nd anniversary of the unification of the UAE Armed Forces, we salute and express our great and sincere pride and appreciation for the efforts and the sacrifices you have made. [This] includes elevating the capabilities of our armed forces, defending the homeland and safeguarding the achievements of its people, which, as a result, has become an oasis of security and stability, a model of development and prosperity," Sheikh Khalifa said.
"My sons and daughters, we are proud of you. You have contributed strongly to the preservation of peace, security and stability of the homeland and you have sacrificed your lives for the sake of the truth, in support of legitimacy, in combating terrorism and in preserving regional and international peace."
The guardians of the nation
The Armed Forces traces its lineage back to the Trucial Oman Scouts. The scouts were a British administered force that kept the peace in the Trucial States. After unification of the UAE in 1971, the scouts were absorbed into the fledgling military of the UAE. Most emirates had their own defence force and these were eventually amalgamated.
Sheikh Khalifa added: "On this anniversary, which coincides with our country's celebration of the Year of Zayed, we pray to Allah Almighty to have mercy on the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and on his brothers, the co-founders of the union, who laid the solid foundations of this strong national army. We also pray to Almighty Allah to have mercy on the martyrs' souls and to grant them eternal peace in heaven and to bless their families with comfort and solace."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said the UAE military, as "guardians of the nation", play a vital role in a turbulent and dangerous regional environment. Also speaking to Nation Shield, Sheikh Mohammed said the role of the military in Yemen particularly highlights how values of heroism, dedication and sacrifice are deeply embedded in them.
"We in the UAE do not forget the sacrifices made for the sake of our nation and we have honoured their memory," he said. "Their names glitter like shining stars in the skies of our homeland."
Since unification, the Armed Forces have played a humanitarian role across the globe. An ongoing exhibition at Dubai's Etihad museum entitled Protectors of the Nation: Sacrifice and Giving looks at military deployments in Kosovo, Lebanon, Somalia and Kuwait. In Kosovo for example, Emirati troops arrived in the late 1990s as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission and built camps for thousands of refugees, supplied medical services and constructed a hospital. Rare video in the exhibition shows Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in military fatigues. We see him greeting troops in Kosovo, while Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed can also been seen in this film.
Protecting the homeland
Commenting on the anniversary Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the anniversary came in a special year with the Year of Zayed. "The founding father was the driving force behind the unification decision," he said. "He was the commander who laid the foundations for building our national army and tirelessly observed their development until the last day of his life."
Sheikh Mohammed also warned of a unstable regional environment that the military were battling.
"Some parties are unscrupulously waging direct wars, while others are launching proxy wars," he said. "This is in addition to what is known as the fourth generation warfare, now seen across different media organs and social media platforms. We have experienced periods of war and turmoil before the establishment of our state, and we have always succeeded in protecting our homeland from their perils."
Lt Gen Hamad Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, said that the unification date represented the true beginning of the transformation the nation's military capabilities.
"These achievements across the years would have not been achieved without the support of the UAE leadership, who continue to inspire and motivate our military cadres to push forward and grow towards new potential," he said.