Egyptian army intensifies military exercises over regional concerns

From November until now, the army has conducted nine joint drills. /AP

The Egyptian army has intensified the military exercises and drills recently as a “deterrent message” to some regional powers, and an assurance of the armed forces’ readiness against any threats, according to political and military 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,” said Samir Farag, an Egyptian military expert.

“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 defense ministry’s moral department, told Xinhua.

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, Britain, Jordan and Sudan.

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

Egypt has also taken part in military joint maneuvers 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.

The armed forces said that the trainings come in light of the growing partnership and military cooperation between the Egyptian army and friendly countries.

The participating forces implement several joint naval and air combat tasks to enhance the skills of commanders and officers in managing joint operations, the statement said.

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 maneuvers designed to secure maritime traffic in the Red Sea included air defense 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,” he said, adding that the modern concept of national security must study threats emanating from immediate neighbors to further ones.