Egyptian army intensifies military exercises

The Egyptian Armed Forces have recently intensified military exercises and drills as a “deterrent message” to some regional powers, and an assurance of their readiness against any threats, according to political and defence experts.

“The four strategic directions of Egypt, the Mediterranean at north, Sinai at east, Libya at west and the headwaters of the Nile at south, made the joint exercises very important now,” Samir Farag, an Egyptian military expert, told Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

“The conflicts over the natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean need a military force to maintain the sea wealth,” Farag, also former manager of the Defence Ministry’s moral department, added.

From November until now, the army has conducted nine joint drills according to official statistics posted by the Armed Forces on its Facebook page.

Those training activities included seven in the Egyptian regional water with the participation of forces from France, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, the UK, Jordan and Sudan.

Some countries like Greece, France, the UAE and Bahrain have participated in more than one drill, while the US, Italy and Germany have taken part as observers.

Egypt has also taken part in military joint manoeuvers outside its territorial borders like the air forces exercise in Sudan and the maritime activities in Russia since November.

The diversity of the activities promotes the experience of the armed forces because each country has different fighting methods and techniques, Farag explained.

According to Gamal Mazloum, a retired army general, Egypt conducts a yearly average of 40 joint exercises.

Mazloum said that the drills help exchange expertise to reach higher levels of efficiency and readiness to implement joint tasks under different circumstances, especially amid the rapid regional and international changes.

He added that some naval manoeuvers designed to secure maritime traffic in the Red Sea included air defence operations to intercept potential maritime assaults.

The southern Red Sea falls directly within Egypt’s regional security sphere and any tensions there will affect maritime activity off Egypt’s Red Sea coast and the security of ships crossing the Suez Canal, he explained.

Meanwhile, Mokhtar Gobashy, vice chairman of the Cairo-based Arab center for political studies, said that Egypt is a regional pivotal country that is located in inflammable surroundings and has to be fully prepared at all fronts.

“The Libyan crisis hasn’t been resolved yet. The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is still tense, and no settlement has been reached for the controversial Ethiopian dam,” Gobashy explained.

“Advance in the international arms technologies and developments left Egypt with no choice other than diversifying its military activities and sources.”