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Thursday, November 02, 2006


Riyadh, 2 Nov. (AKI) - The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will on Monday discuss expanding its joint force "Peninsula Shield" following a proposal by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. A GCC secretariat statement said a meeting of defence ministers and senior officials in Abu Dhabi "will review King Abdullah’s proposal to expand the joint force and discuss other defence-related issues.” The Peninsula Shield, formed in 1986, is the first line of defence, after its own army, for any member state that faces a military threat, but operates only at the request of the threatened state. It currently number 7,000 soldiers from all six GCC members.

The Saudi proposal calls for bolstering regional security and upgrading combat efficiency with the help of an expanded force under a joint command and control system.

According to the proposal, the soldiers comprising the Shield will be stationed in their home countries and will be called for joint exercises from time to time, local daily Arab News reports.

King Abdullah’s proposal to bolster the Peninsula Shield has been conveyed to the leaders of the Gulf states by Prince Khalid ibn Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation, in his several visits to these countries recently.

A lack of consensus among the Gulf states has inhibited the development of the force, and the GCC has even debated disbanding it.

The Peninsula Shield is currently headquartered at a Saudi Army base at Hafr Al-Batin, near the Kuwaiti and Iraqi borders.
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