The defense of Oman encompasses (2010) 43,000 men enlisted and is
organized into 3 brigades, 13 fighters, 64 fighter aircraft
and the Royal Guard Brigade. Semi-military security forces
amount to 4,000 men. The material is modern and of Western
origin. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that OMN stands for Oman.
Defense costs fell from 20.8% to 8.5% of GDP in
1985-2008. The United Kingdom has a versatile force of 80
men stationed in Oman.
Oman's defense overview
Military service is voluntary in Oman. The total force
figures for Oman's armed forces are 42,600 active personnel
(2018, IISS). In addition, there are 4400 semi-military
The army has a workforce of 25,000 active personnel.
Material comprising 117 tanks (79 M60 and 38 Challenger 2),
37 light tanks of a scorpion, 137 reconnaissance vehicles,
two armored vehicles, 200 armored personnel carriers, eight
armored fighters and 24 self-propelled artillery. In
addition, the army has heavy artillery, short range air
defense missiles and light air defense artillery.
The Air Force has a workforce of 5,000 active personnel.
Materials include 35 fighter jets (23 F-16 and 12 Typhoon),
four martime patrol aircraft, 20 transport aircraft, 44
training aircraft (of which 16 Hawk and 12 PC-9 which can
also be used as light fighter and attack aircraft), and 12
PC-9 which can used as light attack aircraft), and about 41
helicopters. In addition, the Air Force has medium range air
defense missiles (NASAMS).
The Navy has a workforce of 4200 active personnel. The
fleet includes three frigates, two corvettes, 10 patrol
vessels, six landings, and eight logistics and auxiliary
Oman's foreign policy
Under Sultan Qaboos, Oman became an open country with
wide international contact, and in foreign policy the
country has pursued a more neutral policy than many other
Arab states - partly because of fears of two extreme
directions, communism (as a result of the Dhofar uprising)
and Islamism (after September 11, 2001).
The goal of Oman's foreign policy is twofold: to prevent
foreign interference in the country's internal affairs, and
to contribute to stability in the region. One of the main
means is to participate in international organizations, and
from 1971 Oman has joined several such, such as the UN and
Arab League, and in 1981 the country was among the founders
of the Gulf Council (GCC). Another means is through
political pragmatism to seek a neutral line in regional
conflicts, and possibly to help find diplomatic solutions.
Oman has invested heavily in national security, with a
strong national defense.
With its location on the Strait of Hormuz, and thus the
entrance to the Gulf of Persia, Oman is of great strategic
importance. The country maintained relations with Iran after
the 1979 revolution, and remained neutral in the first Gulf
War between Iran and Iraq (1980–1988) - and continued
relations with Iran after the war, with the signing of an
economic cooperation agreement in 1989. Oman has historical
and cultural relations with Iran, but also sees the country
as an important political and economic ally, and a regional
player too powerful to overlook or embark on. Oman is thus
one of the few countries that have good relations with both
Iran and the United States. This helped Oman play a key role
in diplomacy leading to the agreement on Iran's nuclear
program in 2015.
Relationship with the West
Oman has good relations with both the United Kingdom and
the United States, and allowed Western forces to use its
military bases after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990,
after first arguing that the conflict should be resolved
without the use of military force. Oman also quietly tried
to mediate, but as this failed to lead, the country
participated in a regiment in Operation Desert Storm
- the liberation of Kuwait - in 1991. However, Oman did not
break diplomatic relations with Iraq. Military bases in Oman
were also made available to US forces in the 2001 attacks on
Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom. After the
Second Gulf War, Oman has adopted an active security policy,
and has expanded its cooperation with the United States and
the United Kingdom. Oman also played a diplomatic role in
trying to resolve the Bahrain- Qatar conflict in 1986, and
during the Yemen civil war in 1994. Oman did not support the
US invasion of Iraq in 2003, but allowed US forces to base
users in Oman during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Oman did not participate in the boycott of Egypt after
the peace agreement with Israel in 1979, and supported
Jordan's conclusion of a peace agreement in 1994. The
country did not recognize the Palestinian leadership until
1988. Oman was the first Gulf state to establish relations
with Israel from 1993. In 1994, Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman to discuss the Oslo Accords. The
following year, a mutual trade office was established, which
was later closed in 2000 as a result of the Palestinian
intifada, after first being frozen in 1997 due to the new
Israeli government's settlement policy. Prime Minister
Shimon Peres was on official visit to Oman in 1996; Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited in 2018. For several
years, there has been secret contact between the two
countries. Oman is also in contact with Israeli opponents,
Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas - both supported by
Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit in November
2018 came the day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
The countries of the region
Oman chose to maintain relations with Syria, with other
countries in the region supporting various groups seeking to
overthrow President Bashar al-Assad during the war in Syria.
Oman has supported attempts at dialogue between warring
parties in Syria, Libya and Yemen.
Borders between Oman and neighboring countries (Yemen,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, FAE) were entered
into during the 1990s; a final agreement with the FAE was
first ratified in 2002. Diplomatic relations with Tanzania,
of which Oman's former possession Zanzibar is a part, were
first established in 2005, mostly as a result of opposition
to 'African socialism'.
Oman has stayed out of the war in Yemen, where Saudi
Arabia in 2015 initiated a multinational military action.
For example, fears that radical Islamists would enter Oman
have led to the establishment of a border fence against