The US Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia (USMTM) is based in the capital Riyadh, with around 330 US personnel and contractors working from the centre to train the Saudi military.
The US State Department gave the green light for a five-year extension of the programme which includes salaries for “US Military, US Government, and Foreign National staff members”, according to the Defense News website.
It also covers administrative costs, logistical support, and taxes, as well as “future transition costs to move USMTM” to a new location in the kingdom.
US Central Command, on its website, describes the mission as a “unique security assistance (SA) and security cooperation (SC) organization under the authority of the chief of the US diplomatic mission”.
Its aim is to “train, advise and assist” Saudi Arabia’s military, one of the best-funded in the world and a significant buyer of US arms.
“Our mission is to enhance U.S. national security through building the capability and capacity of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (SAAF) to defend our common interests in the Middle East region,” it adds.
Saudi Arabia and the US are firm allies, with decades of close political and military cooperation.
This relationship has been brought under the spotlight in the US due to Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the bloody war in Yemen – where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed – and human rights abuses.US Extends $350 Million Saudi Training Mission