JEDDAH: Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation, has emphasized the importance of strengthening the Kingdom’s defense forces in the light of the changing regional power balance.Addressing an international air defense symposium here on Sunday, Prince Khaled said the Kingdom has beefed up its armed forces to protect its air and naval borders and deter any possible attacks or threats.“The global and regional developments and change in the balance of power around us demand from us to acquire all forms of power and develop our fighting capabilities … in order to make our armed forces well prepared to carry out its mission in a highly professional manner,” he told the conference.Speakers at the four-day International Symposium on Air Defense 2020 include Gen. James Mattis, commander of US Central Command; Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, commander in chief of air command at the UK RAF; Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of US Air Force; Lt. Gen. Gilles Desclaux, commander of French Air Force; and Lt. Gen. Sergei Razigraev, commander of Russian Air Force.
Prince Khaled said the protection of Gulf security and stability comes under the purview of international interest and regulations. He called for a judicious response to anti-Saudi tirades by Iranian officials.Referring to a proposal made by GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani on setting up a military force, he said: “We have already formed the Peninsula Shield, which has gained a lot of expertise. God willing, we’ll develop this force in the future, after discussing all aspects such as the need for the creation of a rapid intervention force or one to deal with environmental crises.”Prince Khaled expressed his satisfaction over the presence of leading military commanders from around the world to discuss how to develop the Kingdom’s air defense systems, including those that can prevent air and missile attacks. “Our objective is to become a deterrent force to establish peace,” he said.Prince Khaled emphasized the importance of strengthening air defense forces to protect national interests and safeguard the armed forces. He referred to the threats posed by transcontinental missiles and ballistic missiles.He hoped that the seminar would deal with major challenges facing air defense such as qualitative improvement in speed, developing fighting capabilities in all-weather conditions, merger of missile and artillery systems and making use of the tremendous progress in electronics and communications. – Arabnews