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Emirates News Agency – US will help UAE improve air defense system and stop drones before launch: CENTCOM Commander

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By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 8th February, 2021 (WAM) — The UAE’s air defense system has been highly effective in thwarting recent missile attacks against the country; Still, the US will work with the UAE to further improve the system, a senior US military commander told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on Monday.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), added in an exclusive interview that the United States is working with the United Arab Emirates and other regional and global partners to develop more effective solutions to stop the drone attacks, even before they are launched. .

“We are happy to see that THAAD [the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system] successfully employed by the UAE in the first two combat jobs of this system. So, it has been very good, and I know it sends a strong message of comfort to everyone in the UAE. We will continue to work with the UAE to make this 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 terrorist attacks carried out by the Houthi militia against civilian targets in the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced in January that its air defense forces had intercepted and destroyed missiles launched by the Houthi terrorist group.

On February 2, the ministry said it intercepted and destroyed three “hostile” drones that entered UAE airspace.

Solution to fight against drone attacks

General McKenzie, who oversees US forces in the Middle East, added: “We are working with our partners here in the region and with industry 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 can definitely shoot them down when they hit their target,” he explained.

“In all of these areas, we are working with our friends internationally as well as industries in the United States to become more effective in this area.”

Professional army makes the UAE safe and secure

He stressed that he found his visit “an excellent opportunity to assure the United Arab Emirates of the continued friendship and support of the United States of America.”

Although the attacks on the UAE are of great concern to the United States, “I think the UAE has one of the most professional militaries in the region. They are very well led, and I think the UAE is a very safe and secure place,” the commander stressed.

Immediate US military support for the UAE

“Even though the United Arab Emirates was attacked, the United States acted quickly and quickly to help an old friend. We brought in a destroyer in a guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, which has missile defense capabilities It will patrol the waters of the United Arab Emirates, working closely with the air defenders of the United Arab Emirates to protect their nation,” he asserted.

“And in addition, over the next week we’re bringing in a squadron of F-22 fighter jets, the best air superiority fighters in the world. They’ll also be working with their partners in the United Arab Emirates to help defend the nation. . So we think it’s just one friend helping another in times of crisis.”

Impact of Houthi terror label, murder of ISIS leader

Asked about reports of the US government considering renaming the Houthis as a terrorist organization and the possible impact of such a move, General McKenzie replied: “I would leave the questions about the designation of the Houthis to the diplomats. But I will tell you this: the Houthis behaved recklessly and irresponsibly when they attacked the United Arab Emirates and they have continued to attack the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. »

Commenting on the killing of Daesh leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in a US counterterrorism raid in northwestern Syria on Wednesday, McKenzie said: “I think taking the international leader of IS [or Deash] off the table, it is difficult for them to coordinate their activities around the world. And certainly, while the regional aspects of ISIS will remain, it will be more difficult for them to coordinate their activities across continents.”

When asked if the threat of Daesh forming a global network had been thwarted by his assassination, he replied: “No, I don’t think he was eliminated. I think this threat will be with us for a long time. Our goal of meeting this threat is not to have a bloodless or non-violent future, because tragically, I don’t think that will be a possible outcome.”

The CENTCOM commander explained that the United States wants to contain the Daesh threat “locally and regionally” so that its security forces can “deal with it on the spot rather than allowing them to coordinate around the world and mount great spectacular attacks”.

Situation in Afghanistan

The United States is watching Afghanistan very closely, McKenzie said.

The concern of the United States regarding Afghanistan is primarily the ability of Daesh Khorasan, a regional affiliate, and Al-Qaeda to mount large attacks against the United States and its allies. “That’s what we look at when we look at Afghanistan. That’s the main concern we have right now.”

McKenzie was promoted to his current rank and assumed command of U.S. Central Command in March 2019. In July 2017, he was named Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In October 2015, he was posted to the Joint Staff to serve as Director, J-5, Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff.

Previously, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of United States Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in June 2014.

WAM/Ibrahim Shukralla