A volunteer National Guard would build on strength

Citizen soldiers have played a major role in warfare since the time of Hammurabi 3,900 years ago. When the professional, active corps of a military has too little manpower to achieve its objectives, a citizen soldiery can be vital to national goals.

As we watched the outpouring of patriotism and national unity at the weekend's National Day celebrations, we see a resource that could be tapped to the country's benefit. The prosperous eastern Arab Gulf states including the UAE have large defence manpower needs but small populations. One good solution for the UAE would be to train a solid cadre of part-time soldiers as a national guard that would serve under the existing military authority.

Reliance on foreign powers to safeguard any country's national interests is at best temporary. Britain's 1971 withdrawal left the Gulf states in an unenviable strategic position, unable to properly defend their interests if the need had arisen. Depending on foreign powers alone is a flawed and dangerous game.

This was evident in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. If in the preceding years the Kuwaiti government had developed a large reserve, and deployed it to delay the Iraqi advance, it might have bought time until reinforcements from other countries could have arrived to repel the Iraqi threat. Contrary to popular wisdom, many Kuwaiti units, nightmarishly outnumbered, fought very hard for three days until they ran out of fuel and ammunition.

Development of a reserve would have been a highly worthwhile effort. During Desert Storm, the Iraqi forces were vulnerable in empty desert, but had they instead made the strategically sensible decision to entrench in Kuwait City, there is no doubt that the potential for civilian casualties would have greatly complicated the situation. A Kuwaiti reserve force might have prevented that scenario.

All of the GCC states need to be able to access a larger manpower pool to support their defence. But how does a small country boost its military manpower?

Conscription is one way. Typically conscripts go through a period of mandatory service, from a few months to a few years. But this is a poor alternative if you need quality citizen soldiers. Conscription is not voluntary, so an individual may have no motivation to be a soldier, or may even be incapable of this duty.

An unmotivated and uncommitted force is extremely inefficient. As the quality of a military decreases, so does the likelihood that it could win a conflict. France, Spain, Portugal and Italy have all scrapped their drafts because of the negative effects of conscription on military effectiveness.

And the negative economic effects of conscription have been well-documented. Manpower is unwillingly removed from the economy, and certain skill sets are left in short supply.

There is also concern about the social effects of conscription. In Russia, for example, the draft can involve very brutal hazing, and a high amount of criminal activity. And those conscripts will eventually rejoin society, bringing their new-found vices with them.

The US National Guard system offers a suitable solution for the GCC states. Guardsmen in the US usually undergo a 10-week basic training course. This is followed by part-time service one weekend a month, plus a stretch of two weeks once a year. This system allows service members to pursue their own economic and social activities in private life, but gives them recurrent training so as to maintain them as a reserve with a good level of readiness.

During their entire service period, which can last from three to eight years, national guardsmen are paid a monthly stipend, and are supported to continue their education and employment without penalty. This makes the system ideal for college students, business owners, the unemployed or under-employed, and those who seek to enhance their knowledge and experience while continuing their civilian lives. These arrangements also address the segment of the population which desires to serve the colours, but cannot do so in a full-time regular forces role due to any number of factors.

Service in a new UAE National Guard would allow its members to gain skills needed in the military but also often useful in civilian life. Conversely, the Guard could benefit from the varied skill sets of its recruits. As high school graduates and college students come into the service, they could put their technical, linguistic or administrative skills to use.

Unit preparedness would also greatly improve. As opposed to recruiting in times of crisis, and having to assess and train an enormous rush of manpower, an already-organised and trained National Guard would require little retraining and could be rapidly and effectively deployed. US National Guard units have served regularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, allowing the US military to maintain its commitments in both theatres, and even to find the manpower for the surge in troop numbers in Iraq, which eventually helped to quell the Iraqi insurgency.

Having served as a national emergency response volunteer both in the UAE and abroad, I know from experience that there is no shortage of Emiratis who would be willing to give back to their country for what it has given to them. In these uncertain and unstable times, an Emirati National Guard would have no problem finding volunteers.

Ahmed Al Attar is a security affairs commentator. Follow him on Twitter: @AhmedwAlAttar

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures


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I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Important questions to consider

1. Where on the plane does my pet travel?

There are different types of travel available for pets:

  • Manifest cargo
  • Excess luggage in the hold
  • Excess luggage in the cabin

Each option is safe. The feasibility of each option is based on the size and breed of your pet, the airline they are traveling on and country they are travelling to.


2. What is the difference between my pet traveling as manifest cargo or as excess luggage?

If traveling as manifest cargo, your pet is traveling in the front hold of the plane and can travel with or without you being on the same plane. The cost of your pets travel is based on volumetric weight, in other words, the size of their travel crate.

If traveling as excess luggage, your pet will be in the rear hold of the plane and must be traveling under the ticket of a human passenger. The cost of your pets travel is based on the actual (combined) weight of your pet in their crate.


3. What happens when my pet arrives in the country they are traveling to?

As soon as the flight arrives, your pet will be taken from the plane straight to the airport terminal.

If your pet is traveling as excess luggage, they will taken to the oversized luggage area in the arrival hall. Once you clear passport control, you will be able to collect them at the same time as your normal luggage. As you exit the airport via the ‘something to declare’ customs channel you will be asked to present your pets travel paperwork to the customs official and / or the vet on duty. 

If your pet is traveling as manifest cargo, they will be taken to the Animal Reception Centre. There, their documentation will be reviewed by the staff of the ARC to ensure all is in order. At the same time, relevant customs formalities will be completed by staff based at the arriving airport. 


4. How long does the travel paperwork and other travel preparations take?

This depends entirely on the location that your pet is traveling to. Your pet relocation compnay will provide you with an accurate timeline of how long the relevant preparations will take and at what point in the process the various steps must be taken.

In some cases they can get your pet ‘travel ready’ in a few days. In others it can be up to six months or more.


5. What vaccinations does my pet need to travel?

Regardless of where your pet is traveling, they will need certain vaccinations. The exact vaccinations they need are entirely dependent on the location they are traveling to. The one vaccination that is mandatory for every country your pet may travel to is a rabies vaccination.

Other vaccinations may also be necessary. These will be advised to you as relevant. In every situation, it is essential to keep your vaccinations current and to not miss a due date, even by one day. To do so could severely hinder your pets travel plans.

Source: Pawsome Pets UAE


Hong Kong 52-5 UAE
South Korea 55-5 Malaysia
Malaysia 6-70 Hong Kong
UAE 36-32 South Korea

Friday, June 21, 7.30pm kick-off: UAE v Malaysia
At The Sevens, Dubai (admission is free).
Saturday: Hong Kong v South Korea

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Founders: Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Turki Bin Zarah and Abdulmohsen Albabtain.

Based: Riyadh

Offices: UAE, Vietnam and Germany

Founded: September, 2020

Number of employees: 70

Sector: FinTech, online payment solutions

Funding to date: $116m in two funding rounds  

Investors: Checkout.com, Impact46, Vision Ventures, Wealth Well, Seedra, Khwarizmi, Hala Ventures, Nama Ventures and family offices

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


Director: Siddharth Anand 

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham 

Rating: 3/5