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Oman: Mission of the Armed Forces
Country Study > Chapter 7 > Regional and National Security Considerations > Security Considerations > Mission of the Armed Forces


After 1970 the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF; later renamed the Royal Armed Forces) has became one of the more modern and better trained fighting forces among the Arab gulf states. Recognizing its strategic importance guarding the Strait of Hormuz (through which nearly one-fifth of the world's oil transited) and the Gulf of Oman, the sultanate has struggled to maintain a high degree of military preparedness in spite of its limited financial means. Its defense budget in 1992 was estimated at US$1.7 billion, exclusive of the GCC subsidy shared with Bahrain. It has periodically tested the capabilities of its armed forces by engaging in joint exercises with Western powers, particularly in regular exercises with British forces. Oman has taken the initiative in efforts to strengthen regional collective security through the GCC. At the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War, it proposed the development of a GCC regional security force of 100,000 personnel.

For many years after the defeat of the Dhofar insurgents, Oman regarded its southern border with the PDRY as the most likely source of future conflict. The PDRY provided the Dhofari rebels with supplies, training camps, and refuge from attacks. Omani ground and air strength was concentrated at Salalah, Thamarit, and other towns near the PDRY border. The threat of PFLO dissident activity supported by the PDRY or border operations against Oman declined after reconciliation with the PDRY, marked by the exchange of ambassadors in 1987.

Apart from its military role, the SAF carried out a variety of civil action projects that, particularly in Dhofar, were an important means of gaining the allegiance of the people. Military engineers assisted road construction in mountain areas. The air force carried out supply operations and provided medical service to remote areas. The navy performed similar duties along Oman's long coastline. The navy also patrolled the sultanate's territorial waters and the 370-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone to deter smuggling and illegal fishing.

Data as of January 1993

Last Updated: January 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Oman was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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