The full speech text is below: Dear brave officers and soldiers, Sons and Daughters of our Nation, “It is a great pleasure to stand together once again celebrating 37 years since the unification of our Armed Forces on May 6th 1967. And a greater pleasure seeing the development of our Forces increase year after year, accompanied by our numerous achievements in all fields. We thank God who’s guided us in serving our nation and our people.
My brothers and sisters, we celebrate today 37 years of UAE Armed Forces Unification, and with that we celebrate a nation-wide success that lives and grows with us. With this unification, the process of building our Armed Forces became a primary axis in the development of the nation and its people. It has also reinforced our experiences and capabilities and aided us in achieving our greatest goals, paving the way to sustainable development. This has solidified our national ideals and proved the competence and power of accumulating a large number of important achievements in finance, development and humanitarian fields. This unleashed the potential of our people and pushed the nation onwards among the ranks of success and modernization .
As the safe sons and daughters of the UAE celebrate their Armed Forces, fully trusting its competence, readiness and deep affiliation with the country and the leaders, I call them to reflect on the path of growth that the Armed Forces walked down, and from that, take lessons as a very clear example of our nation’s development.
To our sons and daughters who take pride in the UAE and feel blessed with the fruits of its development, I want you to remember that our path to where we are today was not paved with roses, but rather with challenges and difficulties. Our success would not have occurred if we hadn’t taken it upon ourselves to carry the burden and face challenges head on, and seize opportunities with organized and incessant hard work. This stemmed from a vision that kept the interest of the nation and its people at its core, turning dreams into palpable achievements. Today in our Armed Forces, we see an example in which all elements of a sage leadership’s vision exist, as well as all the requirements to achieve it with diligence and excellence.
The Unification of our Armed Forces was the second biggest challenge faced by our founding fathers after the first which was deemed “impossible”: establishing the Union. Our fathers have overcome both, and founded the United Arab Emirates taking it to the furthest horizon. On this day 37 years ago the decision of Unifying the UAE Armed Forces was made, this agreement was an enormous achievement by the standards of our environment in the early years of our country. With this decision, our founding fathers raised our national political reality to the level of their hopes and aspirations of building a strong country, thus sending a message within the region and abroad that the young UAE possesses enough dynamism to set it’s cornerstones and develop further.
The unification decision was nothing but the first step on a long road. God has bestowed upon me and my brother, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the blessing of being with our founding fathers in their early days of proceeding along road, and we were brought together by this mission of unifying and building our Armed Forces. We have seen the phases of its development and received valuable lessons in leadership and confronting challenges from its then Supreme Commander, the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
I remember Sheikh Zayed, may God bless his soul, telling us two weeks after the decision was made that what we had achieved with the decision was the easy part of the work that lay ahead. That conversation took place at the first meeting for the High Command of the UAE Armed Forces, chaired by Sheikh Zayed (RIP), at the High Command HQ on May 22nd 1976. At this meeting, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed was present as Deputy Chief Commander of Abu Dhabi Armed Forces, while I was present as Minister of Defense and Leader of Dubai Defense Force.
At that meeting, our Supreme Commander discussed with us his vision of a national modern army, and told us that he would personally see to the building process. He also stressed the importance of diversifying sources of arms importation rather than depending on a single supply. He also said that he looked forward to the day when our domestic production met part of our military needs, and ordered that more efforts be put in to preparing national military cadres and leaders. He also said that during his tours and meetings with tribal Sheikhs, he called on them to encourage their people to join the army and enroll in military schools, to which they readily agreed.
He instructed Sheikh Khalifa and I to hold weekly meetings to oversee Chief of Staff affairs, established under the unification decision.
During this meeting, and long after, we realized that the biggest challenge ahead would be preparing national cadres as soon as possible, as the human resources were scarce and the needs were manifold in all ranks. We were aware of the feasibility of arming our forces and finalizing military establishments within a few years, unlike preparing the cadres, leaders and high rank formations which required a lot of time. But necessity was strong, and so the formation, education, and training programs was a race against time to finally see batches of graduates in all forces, and all ranks from the bottom to the top.
Here we are today, enjoying the fruits of our epic challenge in building our national army. Here are our children competently leading our armed forces, occupying all ranks and operating the latest military machinery and sophisticated technology. These are Sheikh Zayed’s children and the heart of his vision made a reality; a national army of the highest organization, readiness and discipline. World-class military institutes, and a modern military infrastructure. Our weapons are imported from various sources including our own domestically manufactured arms which meet part of our domestic needs and are also exported to other countries.
Our Armed Forces are a shining example of our national action that places the Emirati national at its heart and goals. The modern organization of our army and its modern arms were both in synchronization with building national cadres and forming leaders. Now, as a result, we have successfully and nationalized all ranks, weapons and specialties in a short time. We have achieved this simultaneously in all national action fields, notably the police force and public security. Now we see this development in the rest of our bodies and organizations as we rely on God’s blessing and the enthusiasm of our youth to continue into the future.
Dear Officers and Soldiers, You have earned the honor of being part of the army, and you have proved with your loyalty, competence, discipline and excellent execution of your tasks that you are worthy of this honor. I want you to remain as we have always seen you; loyal to your oath, faithful to your promise and always up to date with your arms and training. Life is a learning journey, knowledge is power, and readiness is key to diligence and excellence.
I also want you to remain as I have always seen you, always alert, physically fit and mentally ready, with your arms and equipments fully prepared. We are destined to live in an ever-changing world that knows neither eternal friendships nor eternal animosities, but rather eternal protection of interests. We are destined to live in a region wounded from wars, conflicts, illusions and miscalculations. As much as we have faith in our pacifist methods and strive for good relations with the rest of the world, we need to be strong and ready to protect our sovereignty and independence, preserving peace and stability for our people. Weakness and softness lure those who wish to own our power, against which we should be always ready.
Dear Officer and Soldiers, dear citizens, We have earned our right to be proud and celebrate the power of our Armed Forces, its commitment to protecting the nation, and preserving peace, but before that we owe it on this day to thank those whose efforts built our Armed Forces and security establishments. And today I remember with you in all respect our father, teacher ,founder and first Supreme Commander, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his colleague the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and all their brothers the founding fathers, may they all rest in peace.
I also would like to thank with you His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Supreme Commander, as we admire his wise leadership of our country and his crucial role in building our Armed Forces since its early days, along with his efforts in developing them. This role will always be alive in the memory of our country and our people, and will be written in our history on its brightest pages to teach our sons and daughters and generations to come about wisdom, loyalty, noble values, and unlimited giving to one’s land.
Also on this occasion I salute His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who spent his youth among the ranks of our Forces and lead from within their development, arming and formation of their cadres and leaders. To this day Sheikh Mohamed still oversees this development and all its affairs and needs in order for it to remain forever the nation’s shield and sword and fortress.
And to you, officers and soldiers, and your colleagues who preceded you on the fields of heroes, my congratulations and gratitude to all of you, as you have given this memory an eternal life and glow.
I wish you continuous success, onwards and beyond.” Salam Alaikum WAM/AHN/MN