GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
The Impact of Foreign Defense Contractors In The Gulf: A Case Study of the KSA and the UAE
Paper Proposal Text :
Research question:
This research project will explore whether: a) the Arabian Gulf’s military is unstable and/or inadequate in protecting/securing common interests, and b) if it is over-reliant on foreign defense contractors. Depending on the results, the project will also analyze the possible correlation between the two (instability and foreign reliance). It will compare and contrast case studies between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in regards to their military strength and their utilization of foreign defense contractors. This project will also explore the co-dependent arms trade cycle within the Gulf region in regards to the flow of arms from Europe and the United States as background and context, along with any political implications.

Following the Gulf Wars, the arms trade increased dramatically in the Arabian Gulf and according to the Stockhold International Peace Research Institute, the KSA and UAE are included in the top 10 arms importers between 1990-2014. These countries utilized the arms trade to build their military capabilities, however in order to do so they had to rely on foreign defense contractors hired by arms companies. A foreign defense contractor is a worker contracted out by arms companies to train military personnel in the countries that purchase the arms. These contracts can last anywhere from 6 months to 7 years and primarily come from European and US companies with ex-military personnel.

This research project will briefly discuss the arms trade in the Gulf between 1990 and 2014, with emphasis placed on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, which will function as comparative case studies. To narrow the scope further, the research will analyze the impact of foreign defense contractors in these countries, particularly those working for the following companies: DynCorp, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the BAE Systems. The purpose is to collect and examine among the contractors of these companies first-hand opinions and information regarding the military capabilities of the KSA and the UAE in order to draw conclusions about said military capabilities and the countries’ reliance on foreign contractors.

This research will utilize empirical, quantitative, and qualitative data in order to examine the proposed research question. It will utilize statistical data on military spending in order to analyze military capacity among the case studies. It will also utilize personal, informal interviews with foreign defense contractors who worked or have worked in the KSA and the UAE for the companies mentioned. Four to five individuals will be interviewed (one from each company) in each country. From these interviews, qualitative data will be analyzed regarding the use of foreign contractors in these companies and their view of the countries’ military capabilities. The research will also utilize literature drawn from academia, regional and international media, governmental briefings, and open-sourced data on the Gulf’s military capabilities and use of foreign defense contractors.

Expected results:
From the research conducted I expect the interviews will help illustrate that the actual military capability of the KSA is weaker than that of the UAE, due to its over-reliance on foreign defense contractors. This will be supported by quantitative and qualitative evidence. I also expect to find that there are future insecurities that could arise due to this foreign dependence. This is particularly disconcerting in the KSA and the UAE, as well as the whole region, as there may be a potential reluctance of foreign contractors to work in an increasingly volatile region.