x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE Armed Forces seek better coordination

The UAE military is introducing a streamlined communication system to improve the effectiveness of its Navy, Army and Air Force.

ABU DHABI // The UAE military is introducing a streamlined communications system to improve information-sharing between its Navy, Army and Air Force.

Until now, the branches handled processes such as procurement, inventory and human resources, separately. By using an integrated approach, the system is hoped to cut costs and save time.

"We'd like the commanders to have time to concentrate on strategy and policy planning," said Navy Col Yahya Al Hammadi, director of the programme at Armed Forces general headquarters.

"So we are involved in this plan for the Armed Forces to communicate effectively and quickly through an integrated IT and logistics system. This will help connect all the centres with each other."

Col Al Hammadi said the system would be fully introduced by 2014.

Lt Col Rashid Al Hebsi, of the Emirates Classification Society, said the project would increase military readiness and reduce costs.

"This is part of the Government's vision to build capabilities in the country so we can sustain it ourselves and maintain technical competence," Lt Col Al Hebsi said.

The concept is new in the region, he said, and other GCC countries are preparing to follow it.

"Once the system is set up, the UAE believes its neighbours will follow its lead," Col Al Hebsi said.

Officials spoke about the project at the second day of an international maritime security conference in the capital yesterday.

Equally as important as communication between the military branches, according to navy officers at the conference, is cooperation between regional forces.

"Regional threats dictate that the coastguard and the navies in the region work together," said Brig Alaauldeen Seyadee, the commander of the Bahrain Coastguard.

"When information is effectively shared, the combined forces will be more effective. The threats we face are terrorism, illegal immigrants and smuggling.

"Our intelligence gathering is important if there are people or ships we have to watch for."

Coastguard officials in Bahrain and the UAE already talk on a daily basis and keep channels open with other regional neighbours to effectively police Arabian Gulf waters.

Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the US Navy Central Command, said part of the challenge for naval forces was to understand how they could work together.

"We must work together effectively and train together in case we find ourselves in a conflict. We must look to strengthening our relationships," he said.

Vice Admiral Miller said cooperation was necessary to eliminate threats to the world's most strategic maritime gateway.

Commodore Simon Ancona, commander of the British Navy in the Middle East, also stressed the importance of cooperation between countries in the region. There are five main issues in the region, he said.

"The first is the Middle East peace process that is stalled, the Arab Spring uprisings and the instability that has accompanied that, the threat and influence of Iran, extremism that has been recently seen in Syria as well as Iraq and Pakistan, and finally the illegal trade in goods and arms, as well as piracy," he said.

Commodore Ancona said despite the West's reduced reliance on the Arabian Gulf's energy, the British Navy was still committed to securing the region's waterways.

He said the British Navy would add a new Cougar-class ship to its fleet operating in the region.

The UAE Navy started its expansion in 2004 by bringing in a new class of Corvette boats.

Another 12 Ghannatha landing craft were commissioned to be built by 2014, as was the development of new Corvette boats and a large number of patrol vessels.

amustafa@thenational.ae

rtalwar@thenational.ae