Archive for category UAE

UAE: Former Colombian Soldiers Talk About Life In The UAE Military

The truth is that this country, which is under construction and is home to 5 million immigrants, which the Arabs call “expatriates”, aims to grow as a nation, but not with the human material to do so. Their ability to self-protection is insufficient.
So the sheik (King Amir) have government to government agreements with Korea, France and Thailand.
“In UAE all people are equal. There Living Allowance, education and health care are free, military service is voluntary, professional expertise is valued and we, despite being Colombian, we can access all this because our contract includes a resident visa and cedula UAE, “said Camargo…

Pretty cool article and this is a follow up from a post I did on it awhile back. Although this was translated through Google Translator, so it is a little rough. But I was able to get the gist and here are some things that perked me up. The first is how well these guys are treated. They refer to this job as the ‘Arab Dream’ and here is a quote about pay and conditions.

In Colombia earned 800,000 pesos in bonus. In Abu Dhabi has a salary of $ 3,000 free, receiving room and board and free healthcare. Also learned English. In the afternoon, he and his companions travel on buses that are willing to travel to a mall, where they can buy cleaning supplies and, if they want food.

One result when you create an ‘Arab Dream’ or excellent living wage and conditions, is that you have competition for those jobs. So here is the quote that showed how hard it is to get in.

Every three months there interviews for new staff, but filters exceed four times the standard that is the security forces.
We present an average of 1,700 people, including officers and soldiers of all arms, including the police. The first filter is a safety study, training, units where work and experience. This step leaves a number of 700 men.
“Then come knowledge tests, and the group is refined in 400, passing even more detailed study that includes a certification in human rights and judicial situation daily. The final group is 200. That means nine passes one, “says Camargo.
Many do not know that in the last stage is one of the drug tests. It is the most expensive and can determine whether the person has used drugs in the past nine months. If positive, it is immediately rejected.

Not only that, but they are an equal opportunity employer with their latest move of recruiting women. Check this out.

The next addition, which is expected to be in June, aims to bring the first two women, a list of 200 candidates.

So far, according to this interview this force has not been used for anything other than training.  Although I imagine every Colombian in this force is aware of the Arab Spring and the threat by Iran. Interesting stuff. –Matt


The Colombian army serving in UAE
Jineth Bedoya Lima
February 16, 2013
They made history with operations against FARC. Better wages led them to seek the ‘Arab dream’.
“When I say here because I’m ready for the house, I know that within 48 hours I will hug my family. In the jungle, in Colombia, when I said I enlisted, could wait up to a month and did not pass nothing … “.
Camargo is a seasoned Special Forces man who had to choose between her love for the Army and the welfare of his wife and son. So over a year ago, he packed bags and went to the heart of the Arabian Desert, to wear the uniform of a foreign country that has accepted as a war hero.
Like him, 1,400 men retain staff and military doctrine of his former institution, but now serve the UAE government. Its commander is Mohamed Bin Sayed Al Nahyan, commander of the UAE armed forces, and now his mission is to provide security to the country’s infrastructure, which has only 850,000 inhabitants and is one of the largest oil producers in the world.
Long hours of fighting, sleepless nights, patrols and mines were lurking behind. The cambuches in the open now comfortable beds in rooms apartments and recognition “is not just a medal, but a living wage.”
At least that’s what I say all military consulted TIME.

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UAE: Saudi Arabia And UAE Open Strategic Pipelines To Bypass Strait Of Hormuz

Highlighting the importance of the strait, Cyrus Vance, former US secretary of state, called it “the jugular vein of the West”, while Ali Fadavi, of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Tehran had the ability to “not allow even a single drop of oil to pass” the strait.
“Multiple pipelines would partly negate the Iranian threat to block [the Strait of] Hormuz,” said Rafael Kandiyoti, senior research fellow at Imperial College London and author of Pipelines: Oil Flows and Crude Politics. “Showing increasing pipeline capacity suits the purposes of Saudi Arabia.”

This is big news, just because it gives these countries an alternative to shipping oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Although my first thought after reading this is that Iran will want to attack these pipelines as a way to shut down oil shipments–if Iran is attacked by Israel (and the west) because of it’s nuclear program.

If Iran is attacked, they will no doubt try to strike back by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz. They will also try to attack and destroy any oil infrastructure in any of the countries whom have key oil partnerships with the west. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be classified as such.

With that said, it makes sense why the UAE would want to plus up their military with combat veterans from Colombia. They are going to need some serious manpower to effectively cover down on 220 miles of pipeline to protect it from attacks. The pipeline also makes it’s way through some interesting mountainous terrain that small attack groups could certainly take advantage of if you do not have an effective defense.

Interesting stuff and we will see how these pipelines fair, if in fact Iran decides to target them after an attack. –Matt


The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline, UAE. Photo –


Saudi Arabia and UAE open strategic pipelines to bypass Hormuz
July 16, 2012
Iranian threats to close the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in response to US and European-led sanctions and pressure over the country’s nuclear programme will seem less alarming with the opening of new Saudi-UAE oil pipelines.
Although the Middle-eastern super-producers did not specify that the pipelines, which bypass the busy shipping lane – responsible for carrying a third of the world’s shipped oil – were a direct response to Iranian sabre-rattling, the move is seen as a pre-emptive strike against an action that would spell economic catastrophe for the region and the West.
The opening of the pipelines comes as diplomatic tensions over Tehran’s nuclear programme – believed to be gearing up to produce weapons grade material – increase and Iran’s oil production, due to the sanctions, has fallen to its lowest level in more than 20 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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UAE: The UAE Military Is Recruiting 3,000 Colombians

The UAE has 80,000 square kilometers and have some military forces of around 50,000 troops. Because oil is one of the world’s richest nations. Although only 900,000 native citizens, has a population of 6 million people from countless nations. “What we realized the UAE, and is the reason why they are rapidly strengthening its army incorporating soldiers of different nationalities, is that they have several threats that make them very vulnerable. Our mission further includes different aspects ranging from urban defense against terrorist attacks and control civil uprisings and even be prepared against possible border conflict with Iran. “explains exoficial.
One reason why the government decided to accelerate UAE recently hiring former military around the world has to do with what has happened in countries hit by the so-called Arab spring, consisting of civil uprisings that ended with the overthrow governments in several countries in the Middle East.

Check this news out. This came through a Google Alert I set up, and I had to translate it in order to see what was up. The above quote is what grabbed my attention. The UAE is planning for a future where refugees and problems are streaming from other ‘collapsing’ countries, or even having to deal with internal rebellion or their own Arab Spring. That, and protecting oil infrastructure and pipelines requires a lot of muscle.

Not to mention that if Iran lashes back if they are attacked by Israel, then the UAE might be a potential target. Either way, they are wanting to recruit a bunch of foreign soldiers with combat experience.

Now this is a separate deal from the Reflex Responses gig, at least from what I can gather. The UAE military is directly recruiting these guys and paying them pretty good.

An active soldier in Colombia earn on average 950,000 pesos a month. Figure down to 690,000 when they are pensioners. Being part of the UAE Army soldier to that pay almost 5 million pesos. The figures are based on range. A lieutenant, who earns approximately 1,400,000 pesos in Colombia, is tempted to go for a salary of 6 and a half million pesos a month. The offer for a colonel in Colombia perceived 5,500,000, can reach $ 18,000.

Colombia is probably a little worried that the UAE will draw all of their top tier retired guys, or even motivate some folks to leave the military just to join this crew. I also imagine Colombians will be popular contract soldiers in Mexico, now that Nieto has won and his ‘security adviser’ is a retired Colombian general. lol –Matt


Former members of the homeland to the United Arab
June 30, 2012
More than 800 former military nation Colombians, many of them elite, have enlisted in the Army in the UAE. We pay up to $ 18,000 a month. One that does not stop bleeding.

For the past year, dozens of the best soldiers in the country are leaving the ranks of the Colombian Army. Most of them are seasoned experienced military who fought in elite units and special forces, among others. The reason why many have decided to hang up their uniforms after ten or 15 years of service is as exotic as controversial. Resigned from the army of his country to travel and sign up to join the Army and military in the UAE.

The matter has not been away from controversy and in some sectors of the disbanded army has caused discomfort. “They have recruited experienced soldiers in combat, men with years of valuable service and that the Army also has invested heavily in their training. It is certainly a loss for the Army. But there’s not much you can do because it is not nothing illegal, “said to Semana a general. What says the officer summarized the official position of the Armed Forces, who are powerless such recruitment. “The trouble is we can not do anything to retain and prevent the lower request because it is a matter of supply and demand. To go to UAE are paid wages that are five to ten times more than they earn here,” says the general.

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Legal News: Reflex Responses Hires Patton Boggs LLP For Lobbying In DC

Every once in awhile, I like to flex my ‘Google Fu’ skills and do some digging around. Low and behold, I found an interesting little tidbit about the UAE’s mercenary army called Reflex Responses Management Consultancy LLC or R2 for short.

They just hired the services of Patton Boggs LLP for lobbying in Washington DC in the ‘trade’ department. So my question here is what does R2 plan on selling to the US? Could they offer training services, or maybe even maritime security services to US flagged vessels? Who knows, but I do know that Patton Boggs LLP is no small potatoes law firm/consultancy. They also have a long history and relationship with the UAE.

It is also interesting that all of this lobbying registration happened on 10/20/2011, which was the same time that a consulting firm registered to lobby for Maersk and International Org/Masters/Mates/Pilots. Now what I speculate is that Maersk is seeing the writing on the wall when it comes to having armed guards on boats, and they need some folks in DC to help clear things up.

Maersk is up against a Jones Act based lawsuit filed by crew members involved in the famous Maersk Alabama pirate attack that happened a few years back. They are claiming that Maersk put them needlessly at risk for not providing armed security on the boat. It would make sense that Maersk would lobby DC to alleviate some of the legal concerns about having armed guards on boats.

So how does this connect with the R2 deal?  I don’t know, and maybe it is just coincidence. But it is also interesting that Secretary Clinton put out her memo in support of armed guards on boats a couple of days after these lobbyists registered. hmmmm

The other thing to note is that the UAE is on a blitz of sorts to promote anti-piracy efforts. The article I posted below lists a pretty extensive effort and strategy to tackle the problem. So does R2 play into that anti-piracy strategy?

Even if they are not connected, I think Maersk, the unions, and R2 are all interested in getting armed guards on boats. Either for capturing market share in the maritime security industry, or for liability reasons so they don’t get sued by the unions and crews for not protecting seafarers out there. Worse yet, if unions strike because vessels are not providing security, then that could have a serious impact on commerce. Hence why it behooves the government to do something about this. –Matt


Patton Boggs LLP for Reflex Responses Management Consultancy LLC
Issues: Trade (Domestic/Foreign)
Specific issue: Issues related to security consulting and related licensing matters.
Lobbyists: ?Farber, David J ?Garrett, John C ?McHale, Stephen (covered positions: Acting General Counsel, Treasury, Jan-Jun 2001; ActGCTreasury01 ) ?Oresman, Matthew Scott (covered positions: Sen.E.Kennedy,Intern,99;SenateJuducCom,LawClrck,05 )
Link to report here.
Turner Pollard Strategies for Maersk Inc.
Issues: Defense; Marine/Maritime/Boating/Fisheries; Taxation/Internal Revenue Code; Trade (Domestic/Foreign); Transportation
Specific issue: All issues relating to the U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine, including the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, the establishment of a Marine Highway, Cargo Preferences Statutes, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, the Tonnage Tax, Title XI (the Federal Ship Financing Program), and the protection of U.S. merchant ships from piracy.
Lobbyists: ?Pollard, John J III (covered positions: Staff of Rep Ike Skelton ans HASC ) ?Turner, James T
Link to report here.
Turner Pollard Strategies for International Org/Masters/Mates/Pilots
Issues: Defense; Marine/Maritime/Boating/Fisheries; Taxation/Internal Revenue Code; Trade (Domestic/Foreign); Transportation
Specific issue: All issues relating to the U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine, including the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, the establishment of a Marine Highway, Cargo Preference Statutes, the Harbor Maintenance Trust fund, the Tonnage Tax, Title XI (the Federal Ship Financing Program), and the protection of U.S. merchant ships from piracy.
Lobbyists: ?Pollard, John J III (covered positions: Staff of Rep Ike Skelton ans HASC ) ?Turner, James T
Link to report here.


UAE renews support to all military operations and critical measures aimed at ending piracy off the Coast of Somalia
Nov 18, 2011
The United Arab Emirates renewed its strong support for all military operations and critical measures aimed at improving the process of pursuing and prosecuting those responsible and involved in piracy acts, considering these measures as a strong deterrent for preventing this phenomenon from continuing.
In an intervention made by Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations Ahmed Al-Jarman before the Meeting of the Contact Group on Combating Piracy off the Coast of Somalia on Thursday at the UN Headquarters, he added : “At the same time, the UAE emphasizes that such measures are not sufficient to eliminate totally and permanently these serious acts at sea, and the international community is required to adopt a comprehensive cooperation strategy that ensures the total elimination of this phenomenon, which constitutes a form of organized crime that threatens countries and is subject to international laws”.

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Industry Talk: The UAE Contracts With Erik Prince To Raise An Army–To Deal With Iran!

So this is what Mr. Prince was up to in the UAE?….and what a project! Lookout French Foreign Legion, here comes the UAE’s first Foreign Legion/PMC hybrid built by Erik Prince. (Vinnell Arabia eat your heart out. lol) There are many things here to talk about, so let’s get started with some of the stuff that jumped out at me.

First, the creation of this force was so that it can be used to deal with Iran, or whatever national interests of the UAE. The Iran angle is smart, because that makes a lot of folks in the west happy. (which could explain why there isn’t much ado from the US about this) It sounds like a blended work force of foreign forces (Americans, South Africans, Colombians, etc.) and Emirates troops, all answering to the laws of the UAE and to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Part PMC  and part Foreign Legion. But legally, here is a snippet from the contract:

Article 17
Compliance with the Laws, Regulations and Bylaws
The Second Party undertakes to comply with all the laws, regulations and bylaws in force in the State, and all provisions of the Decision of the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces referred to hereinabove shall apply to this Contract, provided that the general legal principles in force in the State concerning contracts and contracting methods of the administration shall apply to any matter regarding which there is no specific provision in the said Decision or in this Contract.

The article below also had a quote from international trade lawyer Susan Kovarovics. I would certainly hope that if this Foreign Legion hybrid is within the best interest of the US, that they would have provided ITARs or similar blessings to Prince or any of the American trainers participating in this.  I kind of look at it like the Vinnell Arabia contract that has been going on for years in Saudi Arabia training the SANG.  But Susan is the expert here:

Susan Kovarovics, an international trade lawyer who advises companies about export controls, said that because Reflex Responses was an Emirati company it might not need State Department authorization for its activities.
But she said that any Americans working on the project might run legal risks if they did not get government approval to participate in training the foreign troops.

The contract is also very interesting in that it has a ‘Performance Bond’, which is a great thing to have in a contract. I have been pushing for similar performance bonds for US contracts, much like our early privateers were bonded before they were given a license. R2 had to put up ‘ten percent of the contract value’ as a bond. My fuzzy math says that is close to 53 million dollars! Quite the incentive to do well, and just imagine a modern military operating with a similar contract mechanism? lol

The amount of money this contract is worth and time period of it is also listed in the contract and stated in the article below. Here it is for anyone that is curious:

Contract Period June 2010 – May 2015
Total Cost $529,166,754.13

If Reflex Responses Management Consultancy LLC or R2 can deliver on this first test battalion, it sounds like the UAE is prepared to expand on the thing. The contract goes up to May of 2015, so a lot can happen between now and then.

Now as far as what they will be used for, who knows?  The article below says that this legion could be used to take a few islands off the coast and keep them out of Iranian hands? That this force could also be a deterrent to deal with Iran, which I think that is the real reason why the US would be ok with such a set up. Here is a quote on some of the possible tasks of this force:

Corporate documents describe the battalion’s possible tasks: intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.”
One document describes “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”
The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.

Here is the part of the article that talks specifically about Iran. Pretty wild, and this kind of operation is certainly offensive in nature if they do it:

Although there was no expectation that the mercenary troops would be used for a stealth attack on Iran, Emirati officials talked of using them for a possible maritime and air assault to reclaim a chain of islands, mostly uninhabited, in the Persian Gulf that are the subject of a dispute between Iran and the U.A.E., the former employees said. Iran has sent military forces to at least one of the islands, Abu Musa, and Emirati officials have long been eager to retake the islands and tap their potential oil reserves.

Finally there is the future of this project, and more importantly, what Prince envisions. This is where the Foreign Legion turns into a hybrid type force.  It would be like Secopex training and providing logistics for the FFL, and offering the training facility to other private or government forces. Here is the quote:

But by last November, the battalion was officially behind schedule. The original goal was for the 800-man force to be ready by March 31; recently, former employees said, the battalion’s size was reduced to about 580 men.
Emirati military officials had promised that if this first battalion was a success, they would pay for an entire brigade of several thousand men. The new contracts would be worth billions, and would help with Mr. Prince’s next big project: a desert training complex for foreign troops patterned after Blackwater’s compound in Moyock, N.C.

So will R2 be opening it’s doors for training to the world, much like how BW operated in the US?   If true, I could see something like this becoming a multi-billion dollar project for Prince and company. Just because it would be located in the middle east and cater to all the OPEC nations.  That is a pretty wealthy neighborhood to cater too, and this will be one to watch in the coming years. Also, if anyone at R2 or Thor Global Enterprises would like to add anything to the discussion, please feel free to do so in the comments or contact me directly. When these two companies actually set up an online website, I will make the edits. At this time, I have not been able to find anything other than a listing at IDEX 2011. (hint–if you guys are having a hard time recruiting enough folks for the project, then at the least you should have a website and recruitment page) –Matt

Edit: I would also like to mention that Eeben Barlow has reacted severely to this article because of the reporter’s false and libellous statements about Executive Outcomes. EO did not ‘stage coups attempts’, and the New York Times should do the right thing and make an edit or publish a separate correction to the article. Hell, if the reporters below would have actually took the time to contact Eeben on his blog or read some of his posts, he has actually stopped coups in the past and has been vehemently opposed to them.

Edit: 05/20/2011 Finally the NYT’s makes a correction. Hopefully an apology is sent as well. Here it is:

NYT Corrections
Published: May 18, 2011
An article on Sunday about the creation of a mercenary battalion in the United Arab Emirates misstated the past work of Executive Outcomes, a former South African mercenary firm whose veterans have been recruited for the new battalion. Executive Outcomes was hired by several African governments during the 1990s to put down rebellions and protect oil and diamond reserves; it did not stage coup attempts. (Some former Executive Outcomes employees participated in a 2004 coup attempt against the government of Equatorial Guinea, several years after the company itself shut down.)

Edit: 5/29/2011- Eeben has posted a reaction to the correction, and you can find that here.

Edit: 6/7/2011- Here is another correction that the NYT’s has had to make. Very interesting.

New York Times
June 7, 2011
An article on May 15 about efforts to build a battalion of foreign mercenary troops in the
United Arab Emirates referred imprecisely to the role played by Erik Prince, the founder
of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit
troops. But Mr. Prince does not run or own the company Reflex Responses, which has a
contract with the government of the U.A.E. to train and deliver the troops, according to
the company president, Michael Roumi. An article on May 16 repeated the error.

A satellite image of the camp in the United Arab Emirates built to train an 800-member military unit.


R2 Logo

Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder
May 14, 2011
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

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Maritime Security: UAE Shipping Association Has Reversed Position– Backs The Use Of PSC’s On Vessels

     “We don’t feel protected by the international navies, so we need to take matters into our own hands,” said Scott Jones, first vice president of the UAESA, the leading industry body in the nation. “There is still no vessel that has armed guards on board that has been taken. It seems to be the only way we can feel relatively certain,” he said.


     Boy, chalk up another association that has come to grips with reality. Might I also add that these last couple of months, according to some of my readers that are in the know, has been nuts for maritime security companies. Business is picking up to say the least. Although I cannot say for sure how much of an increase there has been because no one is tracking it.  All I can go by is what I am hearing out there.

     With that said, it makes total sense that this market could be seeing a surge.  And with more boats having armed security giving problems to the pirates, there will be those boats without security that will soon become the targets of greedy and dangerous pirates. It is the law of the jungle, and predators will always seek the weakest and easiest prey. Who knows, and this is all just speculation on this particular niche of private security. (we are seeing pirates attack smaller yachts, and violently, which could be considered ‘weaker prey’)

     Also, as a cautionary tale, I think it is important to note the similar evolution of the PSC industry in today’s current war zones.  In the beginning stages, there are always problems.  I suspect as this thing grows bigger, the problems will show their ugly head and will be dealt with accordingly. Although we can be proactive out there and try to apply Jundism and the lessons learned from war zone contracting to this quickly growing maritime security market. All the skeptical eyes of the world will be on the man or woman on the boats with the guns–do well….

     Pirates will also be studying the armed security of boats out there, and planning ways of defeating it.  Because as the ‘unarmed’ prey diminishes, the hungry predators will start targeting weaker ‘armed’ prey.  So if you are a shipping company that has deemed arming your boat with one Glock pistol, and think that is sufficient for ‘arming’ the vessel, you are severely wrong.

     ‘Know yourself, know your enemy’ as Sun Tzu says. Shipping companies must strive to put in place teams on their vessels that are competent, credible and well armed, that can defeat whatever the latest evolution of pirate weaponry, tactics, and strategies are. –Matt

Pirates could face armed seafarers

By Carol Huang

February 28, 2011

The UAE Shipping Association (UAESA) has reversed course to back the use of private security guards aboard commercial vessels as the best way to combat increasingly aggressive Somali pirates.

The U-turn comes as the shipping industry worldwide reconsiders its longtime opposition to carrying weapons at sea. Over the past year, pirate presence has spread across the Indian Ocean. Ransom demands are rising, and hostages are being held captive longer.

Last week, pirates killed four American yachtsmen whom they had taken hostage.

“We don’t feel protected by the international navies, so we need to take matters into our own hands,” said Scott Jones, first vice president of the UAESA, the leading industry body in the nation. “There is still no vessel that has armed guards on board that has been taken. It seems to be the only way we can feel relatively certain,” he said.

That stance would hold for as long as the problem persisted, the organisation said in an announcement earlier this month.

“Until an international solution resolving the governance of Somalia is accomplished, the UAESA will support the stationing of trained professional armed security aboard vessels.”

Dubai port authorities have implemented “clearance procedures” to allow armed guards, it said.

Since many ports around the world ban weapons, many authorities have had to amend or clarify their policies to allow private security escorts to enter.

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