Marines of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, show senior officers of the United Arab Emirates Presidential Guard about the capabilities of the 240 G medium machine gun during the their visit at the 53 Area parade deck March 8. The visit to "The China Marines" is part of UAE's effort to build the foundation of their newly established Presidential Guard's training regimen and military capabilities. (Lance Cpl. Alfred Lopez / Marines)
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The Marine Corps is creating a small rotational force that will make yearlong deployments to the United Arab Emirates and help build the Persian Gulf nation's defense capabilities.
Expected to number about 30, the group of Marines will provide regular small-unit training for UAE military personnel, to include instruction on tactics and the use of small arms, Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Central Command in Tampa, told Marine Corps Times. They are not considered a security-assistance force but rather will help UAE build its long-term capacity, he said.
It appears the first rotation will occur next year, though it's not immediately clear when. Kloppel said some selected Marines — he did not specify how many — have begun training, and selection/training/rotation to UAE will continue on a rolling basis.
The UAE is a collection of seven emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is located along the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping passage bordered to the north by Iran, a regional troublemaker and U.S adversary.
A staunch U.S. ally, the UAE hosts more than 2,000 U.S. military personnel and provides support to Navy ships and Air Force units. And as a part of the Pentagon's foreign military sales program, the UAE operates all manner of U.S. equipment, including 750 all-terrain mine-resistant vehicles — Marines call them M-ATVs — purchased recently from Oshkosh Defense of Wisconsin.
"The UAE is an important regional partner and therefore this training is a high priority for the Marine Corps and Department of the Navy," Marine officials wrote in an Oct. 24 administrative message announcing plans to create the rotations. The unit will be called Marine Corps Training Mission-UAE and bear similarities to a long-running U.S. training mission in Saudi Arabia.
The training mission will allow the Marine Corps to develop "interpersonal and professional relationships that will strengthen our abilities to partner seamlessly against malevolence," Kloppel said, adding that Marines will share with their UAE counterparts the Corps' service-unique ethos and expeditionary mindset.
The Marines will be part of the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group. Based in Virginia Beach, Va., it dispatches advisers worldwide to assist in training foreign militaries. While deployed to the UAE, they will fall under the U.S. ambassador's chief of mission authority, officials said.
Members of Marine Corps Training Mission-UAE will fill billets as individual augments and receive orders for one-year unaccompanied tours to the UAE, Kloppel said. Marines can volunteer through their commands or be hand-selected by their commands if they fit the criteria, which include specific ranks and military occupational specialties. Kloppel was unable to provide further personnel details.
"Marines assigned to this mission will work, live and train alongside their UAE counterparts," Kloppel said, noting they will complete a predeployment training package and, once in the UAE, be billeted together.
The Marine Corps has no end-date for this training mission, Kloppel said, calling them "rolling rotations."
"It is anticipated," he said, "that [they] will continue as long as UAE sees value in having [Marines] assist in developing their capacity."