I appreciate the opportunity from U.S. Central Command to provide an introduction for this special edition of Unipath magazine, devoted to the role of militaries in helping civilian leaders manage crises. Events during the year 2020 validated this important concept throughout Oman, the region and the world.
Throughout much of 2020, militaries supplied front line troops in the battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors enforced quarantines, established mobile hospitals in virus hot spots, disinfected public spaces and delivered lifesaving medicine and equipment to remote areas. Here in Oman, the Sultan’s Armed Forces played a pivotal role in the country’s cross-government efforts to curb the spread of the virus by providing much needed assistance to areas under lockdown.
Oman recently celebrated 50 years of its modern renaissance, marking decades of development and remarkable progress under the wise leadership of His Late Majesty Sultan Qaboos and his successor, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said. The Sultan’s Armed Forces are dedicated to building capability by equipping forces with the necessary training and skills. Through Oman Vision 2040, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the supreme commander, bestows on his Armed Forces the right to ensure their ongoing transformation into a modern force that continues to protect our dear homeland and safeguard its achievements of security, national stability and peace.
His Majesty emphasized the important contribution of the Armed Forces in guaranteeing national security, noting that it “would not have been realized without the existence of modern Armed Forces that are fully mobilized and highly qualified in all its branches and sectors. It would not have been realized without the existence of security services that secured the stability of this country and gained the respect of citizens. We appreciate the role of all in safeguarding the gains of the Sultanate and reiterate our support and our pride over their role.”
A recent example of such a role was the intervention of the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Dhofar governorate in May 2020 to save victims of a powerful tropical cyclone. While the Royal Army of Oman patrolled the region, the Royal Air Force of Oman rescued citizens trapped in cities and villages. Military engineers were deployed to drain floodwater and repair broken power lines. In addition, the Armed Forces Medical Services were on hand to treat injured civilians.
To protect against an attack by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — be they chemical, biological or radiological — the Sultan’s Armed Forces have placed an emphasis on preparation. In March 2020, officers and noncommissioned officers conducted anti-WMD drills with trainers from U.S. Central Command at a chemical, biological and radiological weapons prevention exercise. The exercise involved a cross section of Omani public servants, representatives from the Public Authority for Civil Defense and Ambulance as well as Army troops. It is clear that any real-world attack against Omanis would require close coordination between these military and civilian agencies.
After the events of the past few years, countries recognize more than ever the importance of an integrated approach to crisis management that draws on military and civilian bodies alike. Intergovernmental cooperation, far from being a luxury, is now an essential element in responding to emergencies in our increasingly complex world.
His Highness Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq Al Said
Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs
Sultanate of Oman