by Athol Yates
Warwick, Eng.: Helion / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2020. Pp. xviii, 362.
Maps, tables, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $69.95 paper. ISBN: 1912866005
Creating the Emirates’ Military Institutions
Like other publications in Helion’s Modern Military History Series, Yates’ book treats its subject with encyclopedic scope, combining the critical contexts of local and regional history, geography, and internal demographic dynamics with thoughtful analysis of the UAE’s armed forces and security organizations.
The author’s documented examination of UAE military capabilities and diplomatic-military policy is timely. In the past 15 years, the UAE has “punched above its weight,” playing an active diplomatic and military role in the Persian Gulf, in Yemen’s nest of wars, in North Africa (Libya), and in East Africa as well. UAE foreign policy matters.
The book details the UAE’s complex governing system. Though it retains feudal elements, UAE governance is flexible and dedicated to nation building based on thoughtful, long-range economic and political policies.
Fielding a modern joint military force is a major element of the UAE’s nation-building program. I found Yates’ fourth chapter, Missions, particularly relevant. The UAE’s Armed Forces have five core missions:
- · defending territory and sovereignty;
- · protecting the ruling emirs and their families;
- · bolstering internal security;
- · contributing to nation building (particularly as a socialization mechanism establishing national values and identity); and
- · supporting foreign policy objectives.
Yates’ list is also revealing.
It sketches the evolution of UAE security organizations, from local emirate militias tasked with defending uncertain land borders and protecting their respective royal families, to an instrument of state formation and, today, an instrument of power projection.
UAE forces possess advanced weapons and equipment – the Emirates have the petrodollar budget to buy them. A modern military, however, requires educated personnel trained to use the weapon systems effectively. Since the 1970s the government has focused on educating Emirati citizens, for many reasons, but creating a citizen-manned military in preference to expatriates was a key goal. Education standards have dramatically improved. Women serve in UAE military organizations (Yates estimates about three percent of the Armed Forces are female). However, the UAE faces military personnel challenges. Yates estimates the “current force consists of 65,000 Emiratis” out of a total of 225,000 Emiratis in the workforce. The math indicates 28 percent of the citizen labor force serves in the military. Though another 400,000 Emiratis will be entering the labor pool during the 2020s, Yates notes the military demand could lead to “a drain on human resources” in the UAE’s other economic and social sectors.
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Note: The Evolution of the Armed Force of the United Arab Emirates is also available in several e-editions.
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