United States Military Training Mission: A Paradigm for Regional Security

By Johnson Jr., Silas R. | DISAM Journal, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

United States Military Training Mission: A Paradigm for Regional Security


Johnson Jr., Silas R., DISAM Journal


As former coalition leaders celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait and reflect on the ten years that have passed since the Gulf War, there has been renewed criticism with regard to U.S. policy in the Middle East. While the U.S. struggles to control the problems of guaranteeing the flow of Arabian Gulf oil, deterring Iran and Iraq, and moving the Arab-Israel peace process forward, anti-American sentiment, increasing terrorist threats and regional conflict and tensions continue to overload the resources of the U.S. military. [1]

In response to these trends, the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) has developed a theater strategy that encourages regional security arrangements that includes the Arab countries themselves taking greater responsibility for the region's defense. Specifically, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM), USCENTCOM's security cooperation organization, has assisted the Saudi Arabian armed forces (SAAF) in developing, training and sustaining capable deterrent and self-defense forces for over forty years. This article describes the history, mission, organization, function, and role of the United States Military Training Mission and its relevance to the future of security and stability in the region.

Significance of the Region

The Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf Region have a distinct strategic location in the southwest corner of Asia. The Arabian Peninsula is at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Being surrounded by important international waterways (the Hormuz Strait - the gateway to the Arabian Gulf, the Bab Al Mandab Strait, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea), the Arabian Peninsula enjoys a strategic position in terms of communications and transportation. From an economic point of view, the Arabian Peninsula is home to the largest producers and exporters of oil, the main source of energy for the industrialized world. Currently, the Arabian Peninsula houses over 65 percent of the world's oil reserves, and Gulf countries produce 33 percent of the world's oil. Because of its communication, transport, and economical importance as well as its strategic depth, the Arabian Peninsula, and Saudi Arabia specifically, will continue to be strategically important to the United States for the foreseeable future.

Background: U.S. and Saudi Arabia Relations

The United States and Saudi Arabia share common concerns about regional security, oil exports and imports, and sustainable development. Close consultations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have developed on international, economic, and development issues such as the Middle East peace process and shared interests in the Gulf region. The continued availability of reliable sources of oil, particularly from Saudi Arabia, remains important to the prosperity of the United States as well as to Europe and Japan. Saudi Arabia is the leading source of imported oil for the United States, providing more than 20 percent of total U.S. crude imports and 10 percent of U.S. consumption. The U.S. is Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner, and Saudi Arabia is the largest U.S. export market in the Middle East. [2]

Since 1933, when diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia were first established, the Saudi Arabian government has cooperated with the U.S. government and private organizations for technical expertise and assistance in developing its human and mineral resources. The two countries established a Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation in June 1974. Under commission auspices, cooperation between the two countries has grown in technical training and education, agriculture, science and technology, transportation, government administration, industrialization, and solar energy research. In addition to economic ties, a longstanding security relationship continues to be important in U.S. and Saudi relations. [3]

The United States Military Mission

The U. …

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United States Military Training Mission: A Paradigm for Regional Security
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