In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, an Emirati gunner watches for enemy fire from the rear gate of a United Arab Emirates Chinook military helicopter flying over Yemen. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
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The United Arab Emirates is better-known for its skyscrapers and pampered luxuries, but its small size belies a quiet expansion of its battle-hardened military into Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East.Already, the UAE has landed expeditionary forces in Afghanistan and Yemen. The UAE sent troops to Kosovo as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission there starting in 1999, giving its forces valuable experience working alongside Western allies in the field.Today, the UAE hosts Western forces at its military bases, including American and French troops. In 2011, the UAE acknowledged working with private military contractors, including a firm reportedly tied to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, to build up its military.The UAE has suffered the most wartime casualties in its history in Yemen.South of Eritrea, in Somalia's breakaway northern territory of Somaliland, authorities agreed in February to allow the UAE open a naval base in the port town of Berbera.
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