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Army is ‘force to be reckoned with’ despite limited budget — PM

By JT - Feb 09,2015 - Last updated at Feb 09,2015

AMMAN — Despite their relatively small budget, the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) are a force to be reckoned with, and have proven themselves as reliable protectors of the people and the political system, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said Monday.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Lower House Financial Committee to discuss the Defence Ministry’s budget for 2015, Ensour, also minister of defence, said the armed forces need further support, especially during the current regional circumstances.

He cited the army’s gains in the fight against the so-called Islamic State group as the “best proof” of its advanced capabilities, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Jordanian air strikes against IS over the past days are estimated to have destroyed 20 per cent of the group’s capabilities and destroyed 56 major targets, Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) Commander Lt. Gen. Mansour Jbour said on Sunday.

Ensour also said that the major reason behind establishing a defence ministry was to alleviate the burdens on the armed forces and to have their duties solely confined to protecting the country, underlining the need to keep the army away from politics.

Members of the House committee called on the government to increase the salaries of JAF personnel, citing their efforts in the anti-terror war, and urged the government to reinstate mandatory military service, according to Petra.

Underlining the importance of mandatory military service in instilling discipline among young people, Ensour said the high cost of implementation is the major hindrance to reintroducing it.

Maj. Gen. Nael Raqqad, director of the army’s financial department, presented a briefing to the committee on the JAF budget.

He said the 2015 draft budget for JAF referred to the Finance Ministry was estimated at JD2.5 billion but the ministry set the expenditure ceiling at JD955.1 million, according to Petra.

The meeting had started with prayers in memory of Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh who was killed by IS.

Ensour said the pilot was killed on January 3, which coincided with the 12th of Rabi I in the Islamic lunar calendar — Prophet Mohammad’s birthday — “as if they wanted to send a message that he was slaughtered as sacrifice to the Prophet”, describing their act as “unsurpassed brutality.”

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