Armed forces from 20 countries have begun manoeuvres in northeastern Saudi Arabia, described by the official Saudi Press Agency as one of the world’s biggest military exercises.
Troops from the other five Gulf Arab states – the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar – as well as Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Sudan are among those participating in the Ra’ad Al Shamal, or Northern Thunder, exercise, Spa agency reported.
The military drill – which began on Saturday and involves ground, air and naval forces – will be “one of the world’s most important military exercises based on the number of forces participating and the area of territory used”, the agency said.
Tanks, combat aircraft and missiles are only as powerful as the people operating, maintaining and supporting them. And in this domain, Saudi Arabia has a very long way to go.
Not much is known about the proficiency of Saudi Arabia’s military as a fighting force. The only real war the Saudis have taken part in was Operation Desert Storm in 1991; and most of the fighting there was done by the US. More recently Saudi Arabia has been fighting in Yemen, but unsuccessfully so far. Foreign advisers speak about the difficulties in bringing Saudi Arabian soldiers to the desired combat readiness and proficiency.
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|Image: A no-fly-zone over Syria to protect Syrian forces as they near Al Raqqa could help the West back down from a series of final but desperate options their bad judgement seems to be encouraging them to consider.|