Forces: November 21, 1999

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: King Abdullah of Jordan is facing a problem which daunted his father for a decade: restructuring and modernizing the Jordanian Army. While the size and organization of the Jordanian military is a closely guarded secret, this is thought to include 110,000 personnel organized into two armored divisions and two mechanized formations (which amount to small divisions). Analysts and consultants suggest that this force needs to be cut to 80,000, and later to 60,000, and to be provided with more modern and mobile weapons. One such consulting report called for three mechanized brigades to cover the borders and a single armored division as a strategic reserve. Manpower is a serious issue. Some 95% of the Jordanian defense budget goes for salaries, clothing, and food for its soldiers; there is no money for new weapons without foreign aid. But King Abdullah cannot simply dismiss 30,000 soldiers since unemployment in Jordan runs at 16%. He is seeking foreign investment to create new jobs that could first soak up the unemployed civilians and then provide jobs for demobilized soldiers. First priority for new weapons is said to be upgrading the existing M113 personnel carriers and providing new communications gear. The existing Centurion tanks will be replaced by 288 donated British Challenger-1s. --Stephen V Cole

 


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