The United Arab Emirates is defending the use of foreign contractors in beefing up its armed forces, saying the deals are legal and help it develop a strong military.
A senior military official says that foreign contractors aid the Emirati military through planning, training and operational support.
The comments are in response to a New York Times report that the UAE hired the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater to build a standing force of 800 foreign troops.
Gen. Juma Ali Khalaf al-Hamiri says contractors have supported the Emirati military in training Iraqi and Afghani security forces, and are key to developing the U.S. ally's "robust military capability." His statement was carried early Monday on state news agency WAM.