Despite a huge investment, Middle East militaries
remain poorly trained and equipped.
A report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International
Studies said the militaries of Iran and the Arab world continue to fall
behind that of their Western counterparts. The report, authored by senior
fellow and former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman, said virtually all of
the militaries in the Middle East have failed to properly train their
and keep apace of the revolution in military affairs.
Israel has been the only military in the Middle East
that has largely kept up with advancements in defense technology and
doctrine. Other militaries in the region have largely failed to exploit
the advanced platforms and systems obtained from the United States and other
suppliers, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Most Arab land force reserve manpower has little training, second- or
third-rate equipment, and little capability in maneuver and demanding
combined arms warfare," the report, Middle East Military Balance of 2004,
said. "Modern military forces are so expensive that Middle Eastern states
cannot afford to use much of their total manpower pool because they cannot
fund suitable equipment, training, and sustainability."
The 453-page report said despite major investments, particularly by U.S.
allies in the region, Middle East militaries remain locked out of key
defense assets. They include space-based systems, electronic
warfare systems, intelligence platforms, communications systems and
beyond-visual-range imagery and targeting.
"No Middle Eastern country has meaningful access to space-based systems,
or advanced theater reconnaissance and intelligence systems," the report
said. "Most lack sophisticated reconnaissance, intelligence, and targeting
The report, released in March 2004, said most Middle East militaries
have poor communications security as well as signals intelligence and
communications intelligence. The study said these militaries cannot provide
the software and connectivity necessary to fully exploit even commercial or
ordinary military systems.
Moreover, the militaries lack the C4I/BM [command, control,
communications, computer, intelligence-battle management] capability to
direct deep strikes as well as large-scale armor and artillery operations.
The report said most Middle Eastern short-range air defense systems do not
protect against attacks by stand-off precision weapons or those using
The report does not envision a change in spending trends by Middle East
militaries for the rest of the decade. Cordesman said even Israel and Egypt,
which receive more than $3.3 billion a year from the United States in
military aid, lack the resources to properly modernize their militaries.
"At this point in time, no Middle Eastern state is currently spending
the resources necessary to fully sustain the present size of its force
structure, modernize it in ways that are competitive with military
modernization in the West, and bring it to the proper level of readiness and
sustainment," the report said. "Even Egypt and Israel ø countries receiving
massive U.S. military aid ø are experiencing serious recapitalization
problems. Barring a massive change in military spending, these problems will
worse for at least the next half decade."