No Changes for GCC Joint Defense Force at Summit
No changes were signaled for the GCC’s Joint Defense Force at the 22nd Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, which closed today in Oman. The Joint Defense Force, which was set up in 1986, originally fielded 5,000 troops. At last year’s GCC summit the Gulf leaders agreed to raise this number to about 20,000, and to organize the force into a mechanized brigade. This year’s summit saw no changes to these plans.
The Joint Defense Force is stationed at Hafr al-Batin, in Northern Saudi Arabia, close to the border with Iraq. The site of King Khaled Military City, Hafr al-Batin was a key staging area for Coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf War.
French agency AFP reported that Saudi Arabia had agreed to pay for the construction of dedicated facilities for the force. Work on these facilities is already underway, and scheduled for completion by 2003.(www.albawaba.com)