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Land Forces History

The beginning of the Land Forces was when late King Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Aal Saud formed a small, poorly equipped army of sixty men - the equivalent of a contemporary infantry platoon - and took them from Kuwait to Riyadh. With forty of them he was able to recover Riyadh after a battle immortalized in history with golden ink on the morning of Saturday 4/10/1319 AH (1902). This army was later organized, and its number was increased to form combatant companies composed of the Army of Jihad (men from urban areas) and the Army of Ikhwan (men from desert areas). This was the beginning of the Saudi Arabian Army.


By the end of the unification phase, King Abdulaziz embarked on reorganizing the military garrisons that pre-existed in the Hijaz. Thus, the Yanbu detachment was formed on 23/10/1344 AH and consisted of artillery and machine guns. In addition, The Jeddah garrison was formed on 20/4/1345 AH. In 1348 AH (1929) HM the King envisioned that the Saudi army had to keep up with modern armies in organization and armament. Therefore, he ordered the formation of the first nucleus of the statutory Saudi army units. The army consisted of three sectors named the regiments of infantry, artillery, and machine guns. (A contemporary regiment is equivalent to a battalion of 659 to 962 personnel). The machine gun sector consisted of four companies (about 112 personnel each) and eight machine guns. Some of these weapons were captured by King Abdulaziz during the battles he fought in his struggle. This statutory force grew gradually along with the Army of Jihad and the Ikwan until the King founded, in the same year, the Department of Military Affairs to oversee the personnel of the said statutory force. This department was headquartered in Makkah and affiliated with the Finance Agency at the time. After this young army was formed, its units paraded in front of King Abdulaziz in Jeddah in 1349 AH (1930). That was a sign of the modern organization of the Saudi Arabian Army as well as its executive and administrative apparatus, leading later to converting the various units to a statutory army worthy of the status of the young Saudi state. On Thursday, 21/5/1351 AH (corresponding to 23/9/1932), and after King Abdulaziz's long struggle, he issued a royal decree unifying the regions across the country under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This date is considered the National Day of the Kingdom. When the number of statutory troops increased and administrative and organizational burdens surpassed the ability of the Department of Military Affairs, it was necessary to form a defense agency to support it in 1353 (1934). It was headquartered in the city of Taif, with Sheikh Abdullah bin Suleiman appointed as its head in addition to his duties as Finance Minister. That was accompanied by restructuring the army units into infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Regiments and brigades were formed and provided with the best weapons at the time, including machine guns and cannons, along with transport and radios. They were distributed throughout the Kingdom according to defense needs. A military school was established in the city of Taif in 1353 AH (1934) to graduate and train the military. However, it was subsequently closed because it was no longer needed.

With the unification of the Kingdom, military tasks became varied. In 1355 AH (1936) the military school in Taif, which became a center for training, was reopened. In 1358 AH the Department of Military Affairs was abolished and replaced by the Presidency of the General Staff of the Army associated with the Defense Agency. This Presidency began to organize the army, standardize staff uniforms, and identify its distinctive emblems. In addition, the first armored division was formed, named the First Armored Division of the Army, and attached to the Royal Guard in Riyadh after the completion of training. After that, the first cavalry contingent and first infantry regiment were formed. Later, the Presidency of the General Staff of the Army was moved to Riyadh following the Defense Agency. As a result of the drastic expansion and increasing requirements of defense, a royal decree was issued on 11/05/1363 AH (10/11/1943) establishing the Ministry of Defense to replace the Defense Agency. HRH late Prince Mansour ibn Abdulaziz was appointed as the first minister. Then experts were brought in to provide their expertise in various fields of training. Moreover, many employees of the Saudi Arabian Army were sent abroad to Arab and friendly countries for study and training. The first signal and radio school was also established, along with a medical and emergency school. This completed the first step towards the establishment of the Saudi Arabian Army Land Forces.

Due to the death of HRH Prince Mansour ibn Abdulaziz on 25/7/1370 AH 2/5/1951, HRH Prince Mishaal ibn Abdulaziz was appointed to succeed him as Minister of Defense on 6/8/1370 AH (12/5/1951. On 2/3/1373 AH (9/11/1953) was the great event when the Arab and Islamic nation lost a brilliant leader and the founder of this entity, the great King Abdulaziz. Briefly afterwards, HRH Prince Fahd ibn Saud bin Abdulaziz took over as Defense Minister on 2/6/1376 AH, followed by HRH Prince Mohammad ibn Saud ibn Abdulaziz on 2/6/1380 AH. 

Modern development of the Saudi armed forces started when royal decrees were issued on 3/6/1382 AH (31/10/1962) appointing HRH Prince Sultan ibn Abdulaziz Aal Saud as Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General of the Army. When the business of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation expanded, HRH Prince Turki bin Abdulaziz Aal Saud was appointed as Deputy Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General on 10/5/1389 AH. In 1403 AH a royal order was issued to appoint HRH Prince Abdulrahman ibn Abdulaziz Aal Saud as Deputy Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General.


To continue the evolution initiated by HRH Crown Prince Sultan ibn Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General, he issued his directives on 27/12/1396 AH to uphold the first organization modifying the name of the Saudi Arabian Army to the Royal Saudi Land Forces. Additionally, the Presidency of the General Staff of the Army was re-formed to become the General Staff of the Saudi Armed Forces. The Land Forces, based on the available capabilities (manpower, machinery, and equipment) and following the directives of HRH, became a striking force and the mainstay of the brave armed forces.

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