DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In less than 10 years, the United Arab Emirates has expanded its projection capabilities exponentially through a public-private partnership program and reinventing its military logistics model.
In 2014, the UAE’s armed forces completed the roll-out of a streamlined joint logistics model and communications system to improve information-sharing, procurement and training among its Navy, Army and Air Force.
The model, introduced in 2012, transformed military procurement, logistics support and the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) in the military into a new joint approach to logistics to better support operations and training, said Matthew Hedges, an independent Gulf Cooperation Council military analyst.
Navy Col. Yahya Al Hammadi, director of the program at armed forces' General Headquarters, has said that the three branches handled processes separately until 2012.
“We’d like the commanders to have time to concentrate on strategy and policy planning,” Al Hammadi said in 2013 as the system was being launched. “So we are involved in this plan for the armed forces to communicate effectively and quickly through an integrated IT and logistics system.”
The UAE understands that any operation at home or overseas is a joint effort and part of a larger coalition, Hedges said, and thus “the provision of logistics needs to be both joint and coordinated. It should also be highlighted that the UAE joins a larger list of nations who are subscribing to a joint logistics model.”
Public-private partnerships are a big part of this program. In November, General Headquarters appointed the Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center (AMMROC) to ensure the operational readiness of the forces’ fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
The $5.8-billion, two-year deal has been in the works since 2009, AMMROC CEO Fahed Al Shamesi said at the time of announcement.
“This includes the Air Force, Navy, special forces, presidential guards and the Army,” he said.
The agreement will enable the UAE Armed Forces to remain focused on aircraft operations while AMMROC provides maintenance and repair services, he added.
"Our job is to provide sustainment support to their fleet, the UAE Armed Forces wants us to make sure that we're bringing indigenous capabilities to their fleet, that's why were building the MRO center in Al Ain," said Rashid Al-Khanjari, AMMROC's executive vice president.
Since February 2015, the UAE Air Force has been involved in an air campaign and ground operations in Yemen. Furthermore, the UAE Air Force is part of the US-led operation'ssorties against Islamic State terrorist targets in Syria. "We are also helping them to reduce their cost of ownership with how much they spend on managing their fleet, going on missions and improving their performance,"Al-Khajari said.
"We are supporting the (UAE Air Force) in their air bases, so we have AMMROC people in the air bases providing these services to them," Al-Khanjari said. "With certain systems we are integrated and embedded with the customer and there areas we hand over to the customer, when it comes to deployments however we cannot talk about that," he added.
The UAE fleet, according to Al-Kanjari has 32 different platforms. The Air Force flies two unique aircraft that were custom built to serve their needs: Lockheed-Martin's most advanced F-16 Block 60 and Dassault's Mirage 2000-9 fighters.
"What we have learned at AMMROC is that the UAE has a lot of aircraft, the problem for the UAE is not the number of aircraft — the more numbers the better it is for us in a business sense — the challenge comes in the type of aircraft: 32 plus different platforms," he said.
Furthermore AMMROC has standardized all the UAE Air Force bases, simplifying the MRO and logistics activities.
"Part of the contract with the UAE Air Force is to standardize, we standardized all their bases across the board, AMMROC is ISO-certified with S9110 so therefore all the UAE Air Force bases are S9110 standards," he said.
Another company involved in the logistics and MRO program is Emirates Defense Industries Corporation (EDIC) subsidiary Al Taif Technical Services, which handles all the UAE military's land-based systems.
According to CEO Ahmad Bin Adi, when the UAE Armed Forces started the joint logistics program, their company was part of the concept and was set up to plug into the whole joint logistics concept.
"Al Taif is one of the major initiatives by the government of Abu Dhabi represented by Mubadala and General Headquarters of the armed forces to try the outsourcing concept in the military,"Bin Adi said.
During the development of the concept, the UAE government chose not to contract their services to outside vendors but opted to develop their own local capabilities over international players or prime vendors.
"They decided to establish something in the middle which is Al Taif right now to be the contracting body with the GHQ and then Al Taif by itself contract whoever is going to win the project and provide the service and build the capabilities from scratch,"Bin Adi said.
Al Taif signed a 20-year contract on its establishment to provide MRO services to the land systems, technical training, supply chain management, research and development in engineering, and IT support.
"All these things were provided by Al Taif. And during that time, nationalization was a key aspect to build the local capability of Al Taif. And transfer the know-how from our strategic partner or the prime vendor," he said.