Peninsula Shield Force

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The Peninsula Shield Force[1][2] (or Peninsula Shield;[1][2] Arabic: دِرْعُ الجَزيرَة, romanizedDirʿ al-Jazīra) is the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is intended to deter, and respond to military aggression against any of the GCC member countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.[3]


In 1984, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) decided to create a joint military force of 10,000 soldiers divided into two brigades, called the Peninsula Shield Force, based in Saudi Arabia near the Kuwaiti and Iraqi borders.[1] The PSF is composed of infantry, armor, artillery, and combat support elements from each of the GCC countries.[citation needed] In 1992, the Peninsula Shield Force was headed by a Saudi Arabian, based near King Khalid Military City at Hafar al Batin, and had one infantry brigade of 5,000 men from all the GCC member states.[1] As of late 2006, the Peninsula Shield Force had 7,000 personnel and functioned as a joint intervention force to defend the joint border of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.[4] In November 2006, the GCC Joint Defense Council considered a Saudi proposal to expand the capabilities of the Shield and to establish a joint command and control system.[5]

In December 2007, Kuwait's National Security Council chief Shaikh Ahmed Fahad Al Ahmed Al Sabah announced that the GCC plans to create a replacement for the Peninsula Shield Force. He stated that "the GCC options would always be unified just as they were when leaders declared the establishment of a common market at the Doha Summit."[2]

Leadership and structure[edit]

As of March 2011, the Peninsula Shield Force was commanded by Saudi Major General Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima and has about 40,000 troops[6] and continues to have its permanent base at King Khalid Military City near Hafar al Batin.[6]

According to Peninsula Shield Force commander Al-Azima, any intervention by the force must include participation from all GCC member states.[6]

Use of the Peninsula Shield Force[edit]


The Peninsula Shield Force was not sufficiently developed to be deployed in defence of Kuwait ahead of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990.[7] A force of about 3,000 men from the Peninsula Shield Force, in addition to forces of its member states, took part in the liberation of Kuwait in March 1991.[8]


10,000 troops and two ships of Peninsula Shield Force were deployed to Kuwait in February 2003 ahead of the Iraq War to protect Kuwait from potential Iraqi attacks. It did not participate in operations against Iraq.[8][9]

Role in Bahraini uprising[edit]

On 14 March 2011, the Bahraini government requested Peninsula Shield Forces enter Bahrain via the causeway from Saudi Arabia. Forces were from Saudi Arabia and the UAE entered Bahrain while Kuwait and Oman refrained from sending troops.[10] The Bahraini uprising was the first GCC deployment in relation to an internal threat.[11] In late March, Peninsula Shield Force commander al-Azima stated that the role of the force in Bahrain was to "secure Bahrain's vital and strategically important military infrastructure from any foreign interference" and to protect Bahraini borders while Bahrain security forces are "preoccupied with [Bahraini] internal security".[6] He denied that the force caused any Bahraini citizen to "suffer so much as a scratch", and said that the force entered Bahrain "to bring goodness, peace, and love".[6]

The 2011 Bahraini intervention, involved about 10% of the Peninsula Shield Force. Every military unit present in Bahrain included soldiers from all six GCC member states.[6] While some have argued that this was a Saudi attempt to block democratic processes taking hold, Bahraini officials argued that the Peninsula Shield Force was there to protect government facilities, rather than to intrude in the internal affairs of the country itself.[12] In October 2011 the Peninsula Shield announced its intention to sue "a number of satellite TV channels for propagating lies and allegations about the Peninsula Shield forces that entered Bahrain". This followed persistent claims by these channels about the Gulf forces strafing demonstrators with warplanes and destroying mosques.[13]

Frequent Saudi Arabian street protests in and near Qatif in mid to late March, originally calling for political prisoners to be released, extended to opposition to the Peninsula Shield Force's presence in Bahrain.[14][15][16]

American urging of closer defense ties[edit]

Chuck Hagel called for greater defense cooperation in the GCC, including bloc sales of American arms to the organization.[17]

On 11 December 2013, the GCC announced the formation of a joint military command.[18]

In 2016, Saudi Arabia held a military drill named "North Thunder" with a consortium of 20 countries to display its military cooperation with Arab countries. Pakistan, Djibouti, and other nations also contributed to the drill.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC]". 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Gulf Daily News – Plan to replace Peninsula Shield". International Institute for Strategic Studies/Gulf Daily News. 9 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  3. ^ Bowden, James (2017). "Keeping It Together: A Historical Approach to Resolving Stresses and Strains Within the Peninsula Shield Force". Journal of International Affairs. 70 (2): 133–149. ISSN 0022-197X.
  4. ^ "The Gulf Cooperation Council". Rebuild the Middle-East. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  5. ^ "GCC to Discuss 'Peninsula Shield' Expansion". Arab News. 2 November 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Muqbil Al Saeri (March 2011). "A talk with Peninsula Shield force commander Mutlaq bin Salem Al Azima". Asharq al-Awsat. Archived from the original on 29 July 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  7. ^ European Union (2003). The Middle East and North Africa. Routledge. p. 1297. ISBN 1857431324.
  8. ^ a b Ravi Shekhar Narain Singh Singh (2005). Asian Strategic And Military Perspective. Lancer Publishers. p. 375. ISBN 817062245X.
  9. ^ Malcolm C. Peck (2010). The A to Z of the Gulf Arab States. Scarecrow Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0810876361.
  10. ^ Khalaf, Abd al-Hadi (14 January 2013). "GCC Members Consider Future of Union". Al-Monitor.
  11. ^ Bronner, Ethan; Michael Slackman (14 March 2011). "Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest, page 1". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011., Bronner, Ethan; Michael Slackman (14 March 2011). "Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest, page 2". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  12. ^ Hassan, Oz (16 April 2015). "Undermining the transatlantic democracy agenda? The Arab Spring and Saudi Arabia's counteracting democracy strategy". Democratization. 22 (3): 479–495. doi:10.1080/13510347.2014.981161. ISSN 1351-0347.
  13. ^ "Peninsula Shield Force to Sue News channels Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Kuwait Navy set for Bahrain – Saudi Shias Rally". Arab Times. 18 March 2011. Archived from the original on 27 January 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  15. ^ Johnston, Cynthia; Samia Nakhoul (21 March 2011). "Saudi Shi'ite protests simmer as Bahrain conflict rages". Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  16. ^ Benham, Jason (25 March 2011). "Hundreds of Saudi Shi'ites protest in east". Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original on 29 March 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  17. ^ MUSTAFA, AWAD (7 December 2013). "Hagel: US to Sell Weapons to GCC States as a Block [sic]". Gannett Government Media Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Gulf Nations Announce Joint Military Command". Atlantic Council. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  19. ^ "North Thunder military exercises begin in Saudi Arabia". Gulf News. Retrieved 3 March 2017.

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