Forces: September 21, 1999


Saudi Arabia has two separate armies, both are staffed by full time professionals. The oldest of these is Saudi Arabian National Guard (or SANG). This is the original tribal levies that the Saud family used to conquer Arabia in the 1920s and 30s. It's missions include patrolling the borders, protecting the Royal Family and guarding critical sites (oil and industrial sites and the Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina). Each force is commanded by a different member of the royal family. The Saudi Army (Royal Saudi Land Forces, or RSLF) is a part of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation under Prince Sultan., while SANG is controlled by the Prince Regent, Abdullah. 

SANG has three elements. The first element is the Modernized forces, which consists of several mechanized infantry battalions equipped with LAV-25s and Cadillac Gage V-150s armored cars. SANG is not allowed to have tracked vehicles (tanks and APCs). The King Abdul Aziz Brigade (riding V-150s) was one of the principal forces in the retaking of Khafji during Desert Storm. The LAV-25s were introduced starting in 1993. The second element are the non-modernized forces. These are several light infantry battalions which guard specific locations. They are equipped light infantry weapons, including mortars, Carl Gustavs anti-tank missiles and the like. They do have enough trucks to move the battalions quickly anywhere in the kingdom. The final element is the Fouj. They are an irregular force which, in days gone by, was literally Bedouins on horse or camel with Martini Rifles of the Zulu wars. Now, they are equipped with pickup trucks, some heavier transport and light infantry weapons. They live near the borders and patrol them. Many of these Bedouins come from families that move about, and across, the borders with their herds or to trade in any event and are well acquainted with the areas they operate in.

The RSLF is equipped like a modern army, with tanks, artillery and missiles. Many rural Bedouins also serve in the RSLF, but only Bedouins serve in the SANG. A Saudi guardsman is a personal retainer of the king, a RSLF soldier is in the service of the kingdom. It's an important difference in this part of the world, for the SANG is nothing less than the .the kings private army.


Article Archive

Forces: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close