ABU DHABI — The newly unveiled joint Arab defense force will be twice the size of NATO's Response Force at 40,000 men, according to an Arab League source.
"The force would be made up of an air command, a naval command and a land operations command," the source told Defense News.
"The land forces will have three subcommands made up of a special operations command, a rapid reaction force and a rescue operations command," the source said
The Arab units within the force will be financed by their respective countries while oil-rich Arabian Gulf countries will cover the set up and management costs of the force.
"These forces will make up different combat styles and will be differently armed, therefore we will have similarly indoctrinated units combine together," the source stated.
"If they decide to use it for major operations, the NATO Response Force [NRF] could be used as a template for smaller operations; the concept of framework nations as used by the European Union Battlegroup would make sense. In that case, some framework nations will have to be identified and they will be in charge of the backbone structure of the force as well as command and control," he said.
The birth of the Arab force highlights a lack of confidence by the Arab states in external allies, specifically Western allies, said Matthew Hedges, an Arabian Gulf-based independent military analyst. "The Arab Spring illustrated the ideological chasm between Western states and their regional allies, something that hasn't fully healed," he said.
Rickli stated that Saudi Arabia, as demonstrated by the operation in Yemen, and Egypt are the best candidates to take the lead.
"The issue of trust and information-sharing will represent, however, a major obstacle that the Arab countries will have to overcome," he said.
Operationally, the standard model is the one of a lead nation, Rickli added.
"It could be said that the bombing in Libya last August by the UAE with support of Egypt fits this model as well, again, the problem that Arab forces are facing is the one of interoperability and therefore the more partners there are in a coalition the more difficult the cooperation and coordination is."
The Arab armed forces are not trained to conduct joint operations because there is not trust between them," he added.
"The US has already shown its support for the united Arab force by releasing military aid to Egypt at such a sensitive time. The US and the West will commercially benefit from this force as they currently provide the vast majority of arms to the states involved in this conglomerate," he said.
"That said, Russia and other states will continue to provide arms to states with lower defense budgets and act as a secondary option for the force should Western policy clash with the aims of the united Arab force. Furthermore, the GCC states will continue to receive industry-leading technology and disperse funds and older armaments to its regional allies in an attempt to bolster regional capabilities whilst also strengthening their regional foreign policy efforts," he said.