Lt. Gen. Hamad Mohammed Thani al-Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, received Tuesday General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Commander of United States Central Command.
During their meeting, they discussed aspects of cooperation and coordination between the UAE and the United States of America, especially in the defense and military sectors. They also addressed several issues of common concern and exchanged views on them, UAE national news agency WAM reported.
General McKenzie told WAM while the UAE’s air defense system has been very effective to thwart recent missile attacks on the country; the United States will work with the UAE to further improve the system.
He added that the US is working with the UAE and other regional and global partners to develop more effective solutions to stop drone attacks, even before they are launched.
“We are happy to see that THAAD (the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system) employed successfully by UAE in the first two combat employments of that system. So, that's been very good, and I know that it sends a strong message of reassurance to everyone in UAE. We will continue to work with UAE to make that system even better in the future,” said General McKenzie, who is on an official visit to the UAE.
His visit comes in the wake of attacks by the Houthi militia against civilian targets in the UAE. The UAE’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced in January that its air defense forces had intercepted and destroyed missiles launched by the Houthis.
On 2nd February, the Ministry said it had intercepted and destroyed three “hostile” drones that penetrated the UAE’s airspace.
General McKenzie, who oversees the US forces in the Middle East, added: “We are working with our partners here in the region and with the industry back in the United States to develop solutions that would work against drones. We would like to work against drones what we call ‘Left of Launch,’ which means before they can be launched.”
Such a system will be able to detect the launch of drones, see them and disrupt their flight. “And if you can't do that, you will certainly be able to shoot them down as they reach their intended target,” he explained.
“In all of those areas we're working with our friends internationally as well as with industries in the United States to become more effective at that.”
General McKenzie further emphasized that he finds his visit “a great opportunity to assure the United Arab Emirates about the continued friendship and support of the United States of America.”
Although the attacks on the UAE are very concerning to the US, “I think the UAE has one of the most professional militaries in the region. They’re very well-led, and I think the UAE is a very safe and secure place,” he stressed.
“Even as the UAE has come under attack, the United States has moved quickly and swiftly to help an old friend. We brought a destroyer in a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Cole, which has ballistic missile defense capabilities. It will patrol the waters of the UAE, working closely with UAE air defenders to protect their nation,” he affirmed.
“Over the next week or so, we’re going to bring in a squadron of F-22 fighter jets, the best air superiority fighters in the world. They will also work with their UAE partners to help defend the nation. So, we think this is just one friend helping another in a time of crisis.”