UAE and US to build major military hospital in Abu Dhabi
The facility will be modelled on major American facility in Germany, famous for treating soldiers wounded in Middle Eastern conflicts
A major new military hospital in Abu Dhabi will be built by the UAE and the United States to save the lives of Emirati and American troops, a senior US officer said.
Lt Gen Charles Hooper, the director of America’s Defence Security Co-operation Agency, said the new facility would be based on the model of the famous Landstuhl military hospital in Germany, which was set up in the 1950s.
Landstuhl, near Frankfurt, is the largest US military hospital outside America and has become known for treating servicemen and women injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The UAE facility will include trauma, rehabilitation and burns treatment facilities, Lt Gen Hooper said.
Discussions with the UAE, which will fund the centre, are still under way but US staff will be sent to work in the hospital.
He said it would be similar to the Landstuhl hospital, which is commanded by the military and has more than 46,000 outpatient visits every month.
It also serves the families of military personnel, as well as some government employees.
“It’s a very, very exciting new initiative,” Lt Gen Hooper said at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference.
“When completed, this facility will provide much-needed emergency medical support to Emirati forces and regionally based US forces.
“We’re very excited about it and the regional military medical centre in Landstuhl – that’s what we’re comparing it to and we’re very hopeful that this centre in the region will help save lives.”
Lt Gen Hooper could not say when the new centre will open. He revealed, however, that negotiations were under way.
The deal will be seen as a sign of strengthening ties between the UAE and the US, and the senior officer, who has almost 40 years of service, also revealed that the US had fast-tracked arms sales to the Emirates.
“We’re in the preliminary stages now of establishing the centre,” he said.
“The discussions and the collaboration has begun. As you might imagine, this is a very complex process and we want to get it right.
“I can tell you our discussions and collaboration have begun in earnest and we’re looking forward to opening the centre as quickly as practicable and we’re very excited about it.”
On the issue of arms sales, Lt Gen Hopper said he was keen to ensure the US remains the “provider of choice” by improving speed of process and reducing cost, including by offering more flexible payment options.
Defence companies from across the globe, including Russian manufacturers, hope to deal with Middle East buyers this week.
He also confirmed the US is moving towards making its drone technology available to its allies, but would not say whether these would be armed or unarmed versions.
“We have reviewed and are in the process of implementing changes to our policy with respect to unmanned aerial systems,” he said.
“We want to make many of our unmanned aerial systems available to our partners, many have been asking for some time. We’re going to move forward as quickly as possible.
“We will still continue to vet those cases on a case-by-case basis, but we do understand it’s a very competitive world out there and we want to ensure we’re doing everything in our power to provide US systems to our partners.”
Updated: February 19, 2019 07:46 AM