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
Data as of January 1993