The depth of defense ties between the UK and the Gulf states has been highlighted in figures released by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), which showed that Gulf cadets make up more than a third of international students in British Army Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).
Information published on Parliament’s written answers on 24 November showed that of the 1,347 foreign cadets enrolled in RMAS from 2010-2023, a total of 505, or about 37%, were from the GCC states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE .
The United Arab Emirates recorded its highest number of enlisted military officers, with 139 officers, followed by Qatar (120) and Bahrain (115). The Sultanate of Oman, which has particularly close ties to the UK, saw 93 people pass through RMAS from 2010-2023, followed at a distance by Kuwait (25) and Saudi Arabia (13).
No Saudi personnel have joined RMS Sandhurst since the class of 2018, a full five-year gap.
Other countries in the Middle East that sent personnel to Sandhurst were Iraq (53) and Jordan (55). RMA Sandhurst has also seen nine staff from ‘Palestine’ come through, with the latest batch (two) signed up in 2022, according to UK figures.
Including cadets from Jordan and Iraq, and Middle Eastern countries contribute 45% of the total number of overseas personnel who have passed through RMAS in the last 13 years.
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Middle East Cadets at RMAS from 2010-2023
|Number of students
In contrast, 55 US military personnel attended courses at RMAS during the reporting period, with 16 from Germany. From 2010-2017, 13 people from China also passed through Sandhurst, with none in the years since relations between East and West cooled.
Afghanistan was also a beneficiary, with 63 staff signing up between 2010-2022, as the UK sought to maintain its support for the Afghan government. In 2021, the Taliban took power in the country after a 20-year insurgency.
The last intake of Afghan students arrived at RMAS in September 2021, the same month that the Afghan capital Kabul fell to the Taliban. All Afghan cadets in training when Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021 remained in the UK, housed and under the responsibility of local authorities.
In response Army Technology, a British Army spokesman said: “Sandhurst has a long and proud tradition of training military and civilian personnel overseas. We welcome overseas staff attending Sandhurst, bringing with them unique skills and experiences.”
Officer training at Sandhurst sees cadets exposed to UK doctrine and trained in areas such as international humanitarian law and other conventions, as well as understanding the concepts of accountability, human rights and transparency.
Such courses serve to strengthen bilateral relations between the UK and its partners, potentially seeing ex-cadets take up positions of influence in their own militaries.
The British military presence in the Gulf
The UK maintains a significant military presence in some Gulf countries, with forces in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. The small Gulf state of Bahrain is home to the United Kingdom Naval Support Activity to Mina Salmanwhich is the headquarters of the Royal Navy’s operations in the area and can accommodate several hundred personnel, with a number of minesweepers, logistics ships and general purpose frigate forward developed on the site.
Meanwhile, Qatar houses a number of international air forces at Al Udeid Air Base, with the UK’s No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group based at the site. The Group manages RAF operations across the Middle East, overseeing UK military forces deployed at RAFO Musannah in Oman, RAF Akrotiri in the eastern Mediterraneanand Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE.
The UK also operates a regional land hub at Duqm in Oman, which acts as the base of operations for the British military’s four-month exercises taking place in the Sultanate. Called the UK Joint Logistics Support Base, the site is within the boundaries of Al Duqm Port and Duqm Drydock and can also accommodate UK naval assets deployed in the area.
Read the original at Defence247.gr