Saudi Arabia country overview

Saudi Arabia Government

Saudi information index

Armed forces and security of Saudi Arabia

The military service in the kingdom is voluntary, allowing citizens to choose whether or not they want to serve in the armed forces. The army makes up about three-fifths of the total military force, with individuals joining for various reasons such as patriotism, career opportunities, or a sense of duty to protect the country. After the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, the kingdom’s army saw a period of rapid modernization to ensure it was prepared for any future conflicts. This modernization included updating equipment, training soldiers in new tactics, and improving strategic planning. The efforts paid off, as the kingdom’s army became more efficient and effective in protecting the country’s interests. In the early years, the air force relied heavily on British equipment, but as time went on, they began purchasing aircraft from the United States. This shift in procurement allowed the air force to acquire some of the most advanced and high-performance aircraft available, making it one of the most well-equipped forces in the region. With a significant number of top-of-the-line aircraft at their disposal, the kingdom’s air force is able to respond quickly and effectively to any threats or emergencies that may arise. Overall, the kingdom’s military forces have worked hard to modernize and improve their capabilities to ensure the safety and security of the country and its citizens. Through voluntary service and strategic investments in equipment and training, the kingdom’s armed forces stand ready to defend their homeland at a moment’s notice. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia boasts a formidable military with state-of-the-art weaponry and extensive training facilities. The country’s ground forces are equipped with a large number of cutting-edge main battle tanks, giving them a significant advantage in combat situations. Army officers undergo rigorous training at the prestigious King Abdulaziz Military Academy, ensuring they are well-prepared for their roles in protecting the nation. In addition to their impressive ground forces, Saudi Arabia also maintains major air bases strategically located throughout the country. These bases are vital for conducting aerial operations and defending the nation’s airspace. Key air bases can be found in Riyadh, Dhahran, Ḥafar al-Bāṭin (part of the King Khālid Military City), Tabūk, and Khamīs Mushayṭ, providing the military with a strong presence in key regions of the country. The defense minister, who holds the additional title of second deputy prime minister, plays a crucial role in overseeing all three branches of the Saudi Arabian armed forces – the army, air force, and navy. This ensures effective coordination and communication between the different branches, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the military in protecting the kingdom and its interests. With a well-equipped military and dedicated leadership, Saudi Arabia remains prepared to defend itself and its allies in the region.

The National Guard, although comparable in size to the army, serves a distinct purpose in the realm of internal security. While its main role is to ensure the safety and well-being of the nation’s citizens, it is also capable of lending its resources and expertise to the regular forces for national defense efforts. In times of peace, one of the National Guard’s key duties is to protect the country’s vital oil fields, which are essential to the economy and overall stability of the nation. Operating autonomously, the National Guard is led by its own commander who answers directly to the crown prince, highlighting the importance and significance of this branch of the armed forces. Additionally, the armed forces also enlist the help of expatriate personnel to assist with various support and training functions, showcasing a collaborative effort to strengthen and improve the overall capabilities of the military. Through strategic partnerships and coordinated efforts, the National Guard plays a crucial role in safeguarding the nation’s security and prosperity.

The kingdom maintains various internal security organizations, including the Coast Guard, Frontier Force, and a centralized national police force. These organizations are under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior, which also oversees the country’s intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. Police interactions with civilians, particularly foreigners, have been criticized for being heavy-handed. However, reports of human rights abuses are comparatively fewer and less severe than in other countries within the region. Additionally, there is a religious police force known as the Muṭawwaʿūn (colloquially, Muṭawwaʿīn), which operates undercover. Their role involves enforcing Islamic principles, such as ensuring proper veiling of women, closure of shops during prayer times, and adherence to fasting during Ramadan. The imposition of impromptu corporal punishment for violations is considered a part of their duties.

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