US approves military training programs for Saudi Arabia in $1 bln deal

The US State Department approved on Friday the potential sale of military training programs to Saudi Arabia for an estimated cost of $1 billion, according to the Pentagon.

The announcement comes less than a month after the State Department also approved the possible sale of RE-3A Tactical Airborne Surveillance System Aircraft Modernization and related equipment to Saudi Arabia for an estimated $582 million.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested a continuation of a blanket order training program inside and outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that includes, but is not limited to, flight training; technical training; professional military education; specialized training; Mobile Training Teams (MTTs); Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT); Extended Training Service Specialists (ETSS); and English language training,” the Pentagon said.

Some of the training for the Royal Saudi Air Force and other Saudi forces will involve topics such as civilian casualty avoidance, the laws of armed conflicts, human rights, command and control, and targeting using mobile training teams.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a friendly country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.

The sale would also help improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats and increase its interoperability with the US through comprehensive US Air Force training.

The Pentagon said Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing this training into its armed forces.

Around 339 US government or contractor training personnel will be required to travel to Saudi Arabia for at least one year with a possibility of extension to implement the deal.

American and Saudi forces conducted two joint military exercises, the first of their kind, to counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) this year.

Bilateral ties between the US and Saudi Arabia go back almost 80 years and have improved since the beginning of the Biden administration when the American president ordered a freeze on arms sales to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia. Citing US officials, the New York Times reported this week that the Biden administration was getting ready to ease restrictions on certain weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

The State Department says both countries have a common interest in preserving the Gulf region’s stability, security and prosperity and “consult closely on a wide range of regional and global issues.

Saudi Arabia, the State Department says, also plays an important role in working toward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region and is a strong partner in security and counterterrorism efforts and in military, diplomatic, and financial cooperation.

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