GCC needs missile defence

GCC needs missile defence

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) needs robust defence networks and comprehensive solutions that are practical and not theoretical, Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary-General of the council, said in his keynote speech at the third edition of the Middle East Missile and Air Defence Symposium (MEMAD) on Wednesday.

By (Wam)

Published: Fri 13 Apr 2012, 1:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:05 PM

The two-day event held at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi and organised by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) under the patronage of the UAE Armed Forces GHQ and with the full support of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence.

Explaining ‘the GCC vision for a regional missile defence shield’, Al Zayani stated: “We know very well the complete strengths and weaknesses facing us. We are in a position of strength to implement solutions for stability in the Middle East.

“One of the top GCC priorities is to establish economic security. We need to establish economic growth, more chances of jobs, education and health care, and keep a secure environment for growth. We don’t have enough jobs for our young men. Threats to the Gulf and the region are more complex than ever.”

He spoke about sophistication of threats including biological and nuclear terrorism, cyber crime and financial crime all separate from ballistic missile threats and missile defence systems. The GCC needs robust defence networks and comprehensive solutions that are practical and not theoretical.

He argued: “In war time, the most important thing is a civil defence system. Our success will depend on the strength of our defences. We hope all Gulf countries will be ready to cooperate to solve international and regional problems. Building a comprehensive plan for a missile defence shield is an important strategy for protecting all our countries. Cooperation is practical. It sends a strong message to our allies and enemies. What about our ability to defend against a chemical or biological attack? We should be asking the question: are our air defences suitable? We have to work more and more especially if we need to build confidence to defend against threats and enemies.

“We need to develop an integrated missile defence shield. We are asking our allies to help us individually and collectively. The shield (as a solution) should be flexible and comprehensive. It should be a workable solution and not theoretical,” he added.

Riad Kahwaji, INEGMA CEO, opened the third conference by welcoming the audience. Kahwaji stated: “Missile and air defences are essential capabilities that ought to be on the top of priority list of all modern armies. It is no secret that if there were to be any future military confrontation in the region, ballistic and cruise missiles would be the number one threat to Arab Gulf states. The ability of these missiles to carry non-conventional warheads elevates the threat level to an existential and strategic one.

“In line with its mission statement, INEGMA has chosen missile defence as a main topic for its chain of defence conferences out of its appreciation for the importance of this subject to regional militaries of the Middle East, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

In the second keynote speech, Lt-Gen Patrick O’Reilly, Commander of the US Missile Defense Agency, said, “The threat from short- and medium-range missiles is the biggest threat and the most conventional threat today. The value of the sensor is critical for fire control and this is the very basis for having a good missile defence.”

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