BUILD­ING A BAND OF BROTH­ERS

THE FIRST BATCH OF QATARIS COM­PLETE MIL­I­TARY SER­VICE

Qatar Today - - FRONT PAGE - BY IZDIHAR IBRAHIM

"MIL­I­TARY TRAIN­ING FOR GRAD­U­ATES WILL RE­SEM­BLE THAT GIVEN TO CA­REER MIL­I­TARY STU­DENTS IN AHMED BIN MO­HAMED MIL­I­TARY COL­LEGE BUT WILL IN­CLUDE RE­LI­GIOUS, CUL­TURAL AND TECH­NI­CAL LEC­TURES ON CIVIL DE­FENCE, FIRST AID, THE EN­VI­RON­MENT AND PRE­VEN­TIVE MEA­SURES."

BRI­GADIER MO­HAMMED MISFIR AL IYADI COM­MAN­DER STU­DENTS' TRAIN­ING CEN­TRE

HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani is­sued a law in March this year on Na­tional Ser­vice, which made it manda­tory for all Qatari males aged be­tween 18 and 35 to un­der­take mil­i­tary ser­vice for a min­i­mum pe­riod. It also went on to say that they will not be em­ployed in the pri­vate or pub­lic sec­tors be­fore ful­fill­ing this re­quire­ment un­less there is a valid ex­emp­tion or de­fer­ral of the re­quire­ment. The na­tional ser­vice in­cludes train­ing and duty at one of the armed forces units in ac­cor­dance with the ex­plana­tory pre­sen­ta­tion given by Staff Ma­jor Gen­eral Mubarak Mo­hammed Al Ku­mait Al Khi­ya­reen, the com­man­der of the Qatari Emiri Air Force and head of the Na­tional Ser­vice Com­mit­tee. The law states that the length of ser­vice shall be three months for those who have grad­u­ated from a higher learn­ing in­sti­tute, given that the course re­quires two years or more of stud­ies. The ser­vice is to be four months for those who have not grad­u­ated from in­sti­tutes of higher learn­ing and for those who have not grad­u­ated from se­condary schools un­til the age of 24. Qatar is mulling over mak­ing it op­tional for women to at­tend a na­tional ser­vice pro­gramme. Re­cently in June 2014, at the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the first batch of mil­i­tary trainees, it was an­nounced that there were plans for spe­cial train­ing pro­grammes for women which would be put in place af­ter care­ful stud­ies.

A per­ma­nent train­ing cen­tre for the na­tional ser­vice is be­ing built, but un­til this time that it is ready, the train­ing con­tin­ues to be pro­vided in Al Shamal. Close to 2,000 young Qatari men com­prised the first-ever batch, and the sec­ond batch, con­sist­ing of univer­sity and high school stu­dents, will be­gin its train­ing as part of the na­tional ser­vice in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. This was dis­closed by the Min­is­ter of State for De­fence, Ma­jor- Gen­eral HE Ha­mad bin Ali Al At­tiyah, at a cer­e­mony held to mark the com­ple­tion of the first batch of na­tional ser­vice.

Many Qataris ap­plauded this de­ci­sion with the view that it would en­grain the value of self-de­pen­dence among Qatari youth. The move also in­tends to serve the coun­try's de­fence ob­jec­tives and main­tain se­cu­rity readi­ness and sta­bil­ity of the coun­try through a re­serve force that can aug­ment the reg­u­lar one dur­ing times of emer­gency. Ab­du­laziz Al Mah­moud, a prom­i­nent Qatari, ap­proves and en­cour­ages the manda­tory mil­i­tary train­ing for Qataris, say­ing, “We need to teach our chil­dren com­mit­ment, dis­ci­pline and the fight­ing spirit. The ques­tion is, how­ever, whether this project alone is enough to achieve this?” He also has his reser­va­tions. “Our life­style, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture are full of flaws that have to be fixed be­fore peo­ple are taken to mil­i­tary train­ing camps. Our young men do not know any­thing about the mil­i­tary, ex­cept for the uni­form and the sa­lute,” he says.

“These youth have some traits such as lazi­ness that leads to obe­sity, over-de­pen­dence on the tribe, fam­ily, ac­quain­tances and ser­vants to get what­ever they want, and a be­lief that money can do any­thing for them. Train­ers will not be able to deal with these youth who, un­like us, have been raised in lux­ury.” To counter this, Mah­moud feels that mil­i­tary train­ing should be aug­mented by train­ing in schools.

Qatar To­day takes a closer look at the na­tional ser­vice laws in the re­gion and a few glob­ally, in ad­di­tion to an in-depth look at what's hap­pen­ing in Qatar with a visit to the na­tional ser­vice train­ing camp at Al Shamal, in an at­tempt to throw light on why such dis­ci­plinary train­ing is vi­tal for the new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers.

Na­tional ser­vice around the world

The UAE coun­cil of min­is­ters has en­dorsed a fed­eral com­pul­sory na­tional ser­vice law for male youth be­tween the ages of 18 to 33. Ac­cord­ing to this law, the ser­vice is op­tional for fe­males. When the project is im­ple­mented, the UAE

"THE DU­RA­TION OF TRAIN­ING ADOPTED IN MANY COUN­TRIES IS TWO YEARS. BUT AF­TER CARE­FUL STUDY IT WAS FOUND THAT THE THREE TO FOUR MONTHS OF TRAIN­ING IS SUF­FI­CIENT IN LIGHT OF AD­VANCE­MENTS IN TECH­NOL­OGY AND STRATE­GIS­ING." STAFF BRI­GADIER NASER AB­DUL­RAH­MAN

AL JABIR AS­SIS­TANT COM­MAN­DER STU­DENTS' TRAIN­ING CEN­TRE

will fol­low the ex­am­ple of the State of Qatar. The Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed Bin Rashed Al Mak­toom an­nounced that com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion will en­hance the pro­tec­tion of the na­tion and teach the youth the val­ues of loy­alty, obe­di­ence and sac­ri­fice. Com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion was im­ple­mented in Kuwait and was dis­con­tin­ued; but re­cently dis­cus­sion has started within govern­ment cir­cles to re­sume it. In Saudi Ara­bia, de­mands have been on the rise to adopt com­pul­sory na­tional ser­vice and not with­out strong logic con­sid­er­ing the king­dom's rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion against its vast ge­o­graph­i­cal area, huge nat­u­ral re­sources and em­i­nent re­li­gious po­si­tion. Some Arab coun­tries that adopt com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion in­clude Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Su­dan. Jor­dan can­celled the na­tional ser­vice af­ter sign­ing a peace

agree­ment with Is­rael. Coun­tries like Egypt de­pend on the engi­neer­ing corps of their armed forces and on con­scripts in peace times to im­ple­ment in­fra­struc­ture and other projects – some­thing that can be viewed as one of the ben­e­fits of this pol­icy. The par­tic­i­pa­tion of the youth as con­scripts in na­tional projects un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the army pro­vides them with train­ing and a chance to par­tic­i­pate ac­tively in build­ing their coun­tries with their own hands and mak­ing di­rect fi­nan­cial gains. We can also look at the ex­per­i­ments in other coun­tries such as Ger­many which has al­ter­na­tive civil pro­grammes in­stead of mil­i­tary ser­vice for its con­scripts. The youth can choose to work in so­cial fields for the du­ra­tion of their com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to this sys­tem. Such pro­grammes can be the core of com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion, not re­strict­ing the ob­jec­tives to mil­i­tary work per se. In these cases the cul­ture of com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion is used as a door­way for the youth to serve their coun­try and solve its eco­nomic prob­lems. On the other hand there are also coun­tries such as Is­rael and Sin­ga­pore that take their re­serve forces se­ri­ously and main­tain large num­bers of them.

Most coun­tries in the world now are not in a state of con­tin­u­ous war as many of them used to be in the past decades. War has be­come ex­tremely costly and has se­ri­ous con­se­quences for all. This is why most coun­tries pre­fer to use their armies as a de­ter­rent to ag­gres­sion rather than as­sault forces. In other words, we have all but for­saken what is called “pure de­fence”. How­ever many coun­tries, in­clud­ing those in the GCC, have large in­fra­struc­ture com­po­nents cost­ing hun­dreds of bil­lions that need a mil­i­tary de­fence cover to pro­tect them against any ex­ter­nal threats. Nat­u­rally com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion in coun­tries with a lim­ited pop­u­la­tion such as the UAE and Qatar will not en­able them to en­sure com­plete se­cu­rity cov­er­age dur­ing ex­ter­nal threats. For ex­am­ple, the ra­tio of the armed forces per­son­nel to the pop­u­la­tion is 6.80 to 1,000 in Saudi Ara­bia (source: Wikipedia). Nev­er­the­less, such a de­ci­sion to adopt com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion has many ben­e­fits. Ukraine's in­terim pres­i­dent Olek­sandr Turchynov de­cided to re­sume com­pul­sory con­scrip­tion sys­tem due to de­te­ri­o­rat­ing se­cu­rity con­di­tions in his coun­try. Sin­ga­pore's pop­u­la­tion of five mil­lion is served by an army of 72,000 highly trained soldiers. Dur­ing emer­gen­cies, this army can swell in num­bers, re­cruit­ing be­tween 500,000 and 800,000 re­serve per­son­nel who are al­ready trained, ready for duty and know their com­bat mis­sions.

From in­side Al Shamal camp

Qatar To­day toured the camp dur­ing the train­ing ses­sions and spoke to many of the train­ers work­ing with the very first batch of cadets. Bri­gadier Mo­hammed Misfir Al Iyadi, the Com­man­der of the Stu­dents' Train­ing Cen­tre says: “The vi­sion of HH the Emir is to ap­ply the na­tional ser­vice sys­tem to en­hance the po­ten­tial of the Qatari youths, lead them in the right di­rec­tion, and en­grain qual­i­ties to de­velop pos­i­tive be­hav­iour.” Ac­cord­ing to Bri­gadier Al Iyadi, the idea of the ser­vice orig­i­nated from HH Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad when he was still the Heir Ap­par­ent. This was fur­ther de­vel­oped by a com­mit­tee headed by Air Force Staff Ma­jor Gen­eral Mubarak Mo­hammed bin Ku­mait, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of mil­i­tary and aca­demic staff. “The im­ple­men­ta­tion of this idea has been amaz­ingly suc­cess­ful, and will at­tract more ap­plause when the first batch grad­u­ates.”

He ex­plained that when em­ploy­ees join the pro­gramme they will be al­lowed to keep their jobs while serv­ing, with­out los­ing the in­cre­ments and pro­mo­tions to which they are oth­er­wise en­ti­tled. Re­gard­ing the em­ploy­ees of non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, the Min­istry of De­fence shall bear their re­mu­ner­a­tion and shall give them gra­tu­ities. Ex­am­ples of these in­clude pi­lots work­ing for pri­vate com­pa­nies who re­ceive wages from their em­ploy­ers ac­cord­ing to an agree­ment with the Min­istry of De­fence. Con­scrip­tion du­ra­tion for these pi­lots is counted as part of their em­ploy­ment ten-

ure when cal­cu­lat­ing re­tire­ment ben­e­fits; non-em­ploy­ees are given gra­tu­ities. The Com­man­der added that con­scrip­tion for nom­i­nees who are still study­ing will be de­layed un­til they grad­u­ate from their Bach­e­lor's, Mas­ter's or Doc­toral pro­grammes as stip­u­lated by the law.

Talk­ing more about the types of train­ing they un­dergo, Bri­gadier Al Iyadi says “Mil­i­tary train­ing for grad­u­ates will re­sem­ble that given to ca­reer mil­i­tary stu­dents in Ahmed Bin Mo­hamed Mil­i­tary Col­lege but will in­clude re­li­gious and cul­tural lec­tures on civil de­fence, first aid, the en­vi­ron­ment and pre­ven­tive mea­sures. Mil­i­tary train­ing for the in­fantry in­cludes field train­ing and arms assem­bly, and con­cen­trates on phys­i­cal fit­ness ex­er­cises and the skills needed on the bat­tle field,” The Com­man­der also points out that the train­ing pro­gramme is flex­i­ble and that stu­dents with ur­gent ed­u­ca­tional com­mit­ments dur­ing the train­ing pro­gramme can dis­rupt train­ing and go back to their ed­u­ca­tion ei­ther at un­der­grad­u­ate or higher lev­els; they can re­join the na­tional ser­vice pro­gramme when they com­plete their stud­ies. He also points out that de­lay­ing the na­tional ser­vice for one year is pos­si­ble. The de­lay can be re­newed un­til the stu­dent turns 21, on the con­di­tion that the stu­dent con­cerned is a grad­u­ate of a se­condary school, es­pe­cially reg­u­lar day time se­condary school. For stu­dents of un­der-grad­u­ate in­sti­tutes, train­ing can be post­poned un­til they turn 25.

The pe­riod is suf­fi­cient

Staff Bri­gadier Naser Ab­dul­rah­man Al Jabir, As­sis­tant Com­man­der says, “The du­ra­tion of train­ing adopted in many coun­tries is two years. But af­ter care­ful study it was found that the three to four months of train­ing, as spec­i­fied by the law, is suf­fi­cient in light of ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and strate­gis­ing. Also these terms en­sure that ca­reers and stud­ies are not heav­ily dis­rupted.” Train­ing of univer­sity grad­u­ates will not have wider aca­demic as­pects while em­pha­sis will be on up­grad­ing phys­i­cal fit­ness and lead­er­ship skills to qual­ify them to fill lead­ing po­si­tions in their re­spec­tive in­sti­tu­tions. He says “the first batch of univer­sity grad­u­ates in­clude 500 stu­dents, while se­condary school grad­u­ates will range from 1,500 to 2,000. This is a large num­ber, con­sid­er­ing that se­condary school grad­u­ates tend to seek em­ploy­ment and some of them pre­fer to join the na­tional ser­vice be­fore start­ing the univer­sity. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the train­ing pro­grammes of these two groups is not only the du­ra­tion, but also in­ten­sity with the se­condary school grad­u­ates be­ing put through a tougher course. “We started with univer­sity grad­u­ates be­cause they are ready right now, and are at the ap­pro­pri­ate age. Reg­is­ter­ing se­condary school grad­u­ates has started al­ready; and their train­ing pro­gramme will start next Septem­ber.” Ac­cord­ing to the Com­man­der, “The Supreme Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil pro­vided the na­tional ser­vice com­mit­tee with the names of stu­dents who meet the cri­te­ria of ad­mis­sion. Those stu­dents will then be called to join the na­tional ser­vice. Work­ing pro­fes­sion­als will be con­tacted through their es­tab­lish­ments.” He added that there is a fol­low-up com­mit­tee to work be­tween the Min­istry of In­te­rior, Pass­port De­part­ment, Min­istry of Pub­lic Health, the Ed­u­ca­tion Supreme Coun­cil, Min­istries of Labour and Econ­omy to track the em­ploy­ees of pri­vate busi­nesses. The two pro­grammes, though they start a month apart, will con­clude to­gether and the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies will fall on the same day

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