x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Multiple activities foreseen for base

The first foreign military base in the UAE since the country's independence in 1971 will include 500 personnel from the French armed forces.

ABU DHABI // The first foreign military base in the UAE since the country's independence in 1971 will include 500 personnel from the French armed forces, many of them expected to be rotating duties every few months. Camp Peace, as the base has been called by UAE and French leaders, will be spread across three different locations: Mina Zayed Port for the navy, Al Dhafra Air Base for the air force and an area yet to be announced for the army. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, opened the first two parts of the base yesterday. The naval area will serve as the headquarters for the French navy's Indian Ocean fleet. At present it relies for refitting and maintenance services on Abu Dhabi Ship Building company. Ships operating in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean will frequent the base for resupplying, refitting and resting. But there will be 80 members of the French navy permanently stationed in the facilities that were opened yesterday. The base could serve as a supply and rest station for the French vessels involved in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. The air force section at Al Dhafra will be home to at least a half-dozen of the advanced Rafale jet fighters. The air force part of the base includes, so far, the only combat troops to be permanently stationed in the Emirates. The army section of the base is expected to be open in a month and include between 100 and 200 troops who will replaced every few months. It is not clear yet whether the number of troops or equipment will be increased. For now the base is expected to perform routine services for the French navy and familiarise more of its troops with the region by dispatching them for training. The base was requested by the UAE, reflecting the Government's interest in enhancing national and regional stability through building strong alliances with countries from outside the region.

mhabboush@thenational.ae