Egyptian Armed Forces

Egyptian Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة المصرية
El Qowat El Mosalaha El Masriya
Motto Victory or Martyrdom [nb 1]
Service branches
Headquarters Kobri El Oubba, Cairo, Egypt[1]
Supreme Commander President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defence Colonel General Sedki Sobhi
Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy
Military age 18–49 years old[2]
Conscription 18–30 years of age for male conscript military service; service obligation – 18–36 months, followed by a 9-year reserve obligation; voluntary enlistment possible from age 16 (2012)[2]
Available for
military service
21,012,199 males, age 18–49 (2010.[2]),
20,145,021 females, age 18–49 (2010.[2])
Fit for
military service
18,060,543 males, age 18–49 (2010.[2]),
17,244,838 females, age 18–49 (2010.[2])
Reaching military
age annually
783,405 males (2010.[2]),
748,647 females (2010.[2])
Active personnel 438,500[3] (ranked 10th – 11th)
Reserve personnel 479,000[3] In addition paramilitary 397,000[3]
Deployed personnel Over 2613 deployed in 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.[4]
Budget 56.1 billion (~US$7.85 billion)[5]
Percent of GDP 1.76% (2014 est.)[2][6][7]
Domestic suppliers
Foreign suppliers
Related articles

The Egyptian Armed Forces (Arabic: القوات المسلحة المصرية; Arabic pronunciation: [el qowat el mosalaha el masriya]) are the military forces of Egypt and are one of the largest in Africa, the Middle East, and the world. They consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense Forces.[9]

The supreme commander of the armed forces is the President of the Republic as provided for in the Egyptian constitution.[nb 2] The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces consists of 23 to 25 members, headed by the Commander-in-Chief and Defence Minister and his deputy, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. Members of the council are formed of the leaders of the five main military branches, the Second and Third Army commanders, the military region commanders, along with the heads of the upper bodies (Chief of OperationsArmingReinforcement and LogisticsEngineeringTrainingFinanceMilitary JusticeManagement and Administration), administrative managers (Military Intelligence and Director of Morale Affairs) and the Assistant Defense Secretary for Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Secretary General of the Department of Defense (Secretary of the Council).

The modern Egyptian armed forces have fought several major wars since independence, from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Egyptian Revolution of 1952, Suez Crisis, North Yemen Civil War, Six-Day War, Nigerian Civil War, War of Attrition, Yom Kippur War, Egyptian bread riots, 1986 Egyptian conscripts riot, Libyan–Egyptian War, Gulf War, War on Terror, Egyptian Crisis, Second Libyan Civil War, War on ISIL and the Sinai insurgency.

The Equipment of the modern Egyptian Army comes from several countries, including the United States, Russia, France, Italy, Ukraine, China, as well as locally from the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), National Service Products Organization (NSPO), Eagles International For Defense Systems (EIDS), Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) and the Ministry of Military Production.

The internal political power of the Egyptian Armed Forces since the Arab Spring has caused it to be called a "state within a state".[10]


Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt displaying his army and navy 1830–1848

The Military of ancient Egypt was founded in antiquity, first formed in the era of Narmer. Yet modern Egypt, and its armed forces, were the creation of Muhammad Ali. Following Muhammad Ali's seizure of power in Egypt, and declaration of himself as Khedive of the country,[11] Muhammad Ali Pasha set about establishing a bona fide Egyptian military. Prior to his rule, Egypt had been governed by the Ottoman Empire, and while he still technically owed the Empire fealty, Muhammad Ali sought to gain full independence for Egypt. To further this aim, he brought in European weapons and expertise, and built an army that defeated the Ottoman Sultan, wresting control from the Porte of the Levant, and Hejaz.[12] The Egyptian Army was involved in the following wars during Muhammad Ali's reign:

In addition, he used his army to conquer Sudan, and unite it with Egypt.

Egypt was involved in the long-running 1881–99 Mahdist War in the Sudan.[13]

Making of a professional army

Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt, with newly formed Egyptian army

During Muhammad Ali Pasha's reign, the Egyptian army became a much more strictly regimented and professional army. The recruits were separated from daily civilian life and a sense of the impersonal of law was imposed.[14] The new recruits were also drawn from the Egyptian farmers (the fellah), not from Sudanese slaves or Mamluks.[15]

In previous times, the wives and family were allowed to follow the army as they were camped out. This was no longer the case. Isolating the recruits in barracks, military schools and training camps was the first essential step towards the creation of the professional, disciplined force of soldiers.[16]

Inside these barracks, soldiers were also subjected to new practices. The rules and regulations were not made to inflict punishment on the recruits but rather to impose a sense of respect for the law; the threat of punishment was enough to keep them in line and from deserting. The roll-call was taken twice a day and those found missing would be declared deserters and would have to face the punishment for their actions.[17]

Massacre of the Mamluks at the Cairo citadel

Passing laws with a strict punishment regime was not sufficient for the soldiers to internalize the different army regulations that they were asked to obey. For this to succeed these soldiers had to be interned and isolated from outside influences. They then had to be taught to follow rules and regulations that came with army life. This process helped to transform the fellah into disciplined soldiers.[18]

Before the Second World War, military service was compulsory for men between the ages of nineteen and twenty-seven, but because of the limited size of the army - about 23,000 in 1939 - few were actually conscripted.[19] Britain maintained a strong influence, and provided the army and air force with equipment, instruction, and technicians. In September 1939, the Egyptian Army was mobilised and dispatched to man various defences, including beginning patrols along the western border with Italian Libya.[20] Leaving border patrols to the Egyptian Army initially was a calculated attempt by the British to minimise tension with Italy. During the war, Egypt's army grew to about 100,000 troops.

After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952

Eight men in dressed in military uniform, posing in a room around a rectangular table. All the men, except for third and fifth persons from the left are seated. The third and fifth person from the left are standing.
The Free Officers after the coup, 1953. Counterclockwise: Zakaria Mohieddin, Abdel Latif Boghdadi, Kamel el-Din Hussein (standing), Nasser (seated), Abdel Hakim Amer, Muhammad Naguib, Youssef Seddik, and Ahmad Shawki.

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, a revolutionary organisation was created secretly by the Egyptian officers under the name of Free Officers.[21] The Free Officers,[22] led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser,[23] overthrew King Farouk in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.[24] The Free Officers then forced the remaining British troops based in the Suez Canal to leave Egypt, in 1954.[25]

In the early 1950s, politics rather than military competence was the main criterion for promotion.[26] The Egyptian commander, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer,was a purely political appointee who owed his position to his close friendship with Nasser. Inept, corrupt, and a heavy drinker,[27] he would prove himself grossly incompetent as a general during the Suez Crisis ("Tripartite Aggression").[26] Rigid lines between officers and men in the Egyptian Army led to a mutual "mistrust and contempt" between officers and the men who served under them.[28] Tsouras writes that the Israelis "seized and held the ..initiative throughout the campaign and quickly destroyed the Egyptian defences."[29] In a few instances, such as at the Mitla Pass and Abu Aghelia, Egyptian defences were well-organised and stubbornly held, but this did not make enough difference overall. Nasser ordered a retreat from the Sinai which allowed the Israelis to wreak havoc and drive on the Canal; on 5 November British and French parachute landings began in the Canal Zone; but by 7 November U.S. pressure had forced an end to the fighting.[29]

North Yemen Civil War

Egyptian army in Sanaa 1962.

The Armed Forces fought in the North Yemen Civil War from 1962 to 1967. Within three months of sending troops to Yemen in 1962, Nasser realized that the operation would require a larger commitment than anticipated.[30] By early 1963, he would begin a four-year quest to extricate Egyptian forces from Yemen,[31] using an unsuccessful face-saving mechanism, only to find himself committing more troops.[32] A little less than 5,000 troops were sent in October 1962. Two months later, Egypt had 15,000 regular troops deployed.[30] By late 1963, the number was increased to 36,000; and in late 1964, the number rose to 50,000 Egyptian troops in Yemen.[33] Late 1965 represented the high-water mark of Egyptian troop commitment in Yemen at 55,000 troops, which were broken into 13 infantry regiments of one artillery division,[34] one tank division and several Special Forces as well as airborne regiments. All the Egyptian field commanders complained of a total lack of topographical maps causing a real problem in the first months of the war.

Six Day War

On 22 May 1967, President Nasser addressed his pilots at Bir Gafgafa airbase in Sinai: "The Jews are threatening war – we say to them ahlan wa-sahlan (welcome)![35]

Before the June 1967 War, the army divided its personnel into four regional commands (Suez, Sinai, Nile Delta, and Nile Valley up to the Sudan).[36] The remainder of Egypt's territory, over 75%, was the sole responsibility of the Frontier Corps.

In May 1967, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to passage of Israeli ships.[37] Israel considered the closure of the straits deadly serious, and prepared their armed forces to attack.[37] On June 3, three battalions of Egyptian commandos were flown to Amman to take par in operations from Jordan. But U.S. historian Trevor N. Dupuy, writing in 1978, argues from King Hussein of Jordan's memoirs that Nasser did not intend to start an immediate war, but instead was happy with his rhetorical and political accomplishments of the past weeks.[38] Nevertheless, Israel felt they needed to take action.

The Egyptian army now comprised two armoured and five infantry divisions, all deployed in the Sinai.[39] In the weeks before Six Day War began, Egypt made several significant changes to its military organisation. Field Marshal Amer created a new command interposed between the general staff and the Eastern Military District commander, Lieutenant General Salah ad-Din Muhsin.[40] This new Sinai Front Command was placed under General Abdel Mohsin Murtagi, who had returned from Yemen in May 1967. Six of the seven divisions in the Sinai (with the exception of the 20th Infantry 'Palestinian' Division) had their commanders and chiefs of staff replaced. What fragmentary information is available suggests to authors such as Pollack that Amer was trying to improve the competence of the force, replacing political appointees with veterans of the Yemen war.[40]

After the war began on 5 June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt, destroyed its air force on the ground, and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. The forward deployed Egyptian forces were shattered in three places by the attacking Israelis. Field Marshal Amer, overwhelmed by events, and ignoring previous plans, ordered a retreat by the Egyptian Army to the Suez Canal.[41] This developed into a rout as the Israelis harried the retreating troops from the ground and from the air.

Arab Republic of Egypt

Egyptian soldiers on the east bank. Notice the carts. Pulled by two men, these transports greatly assisted in the movement of weapons and matériel on the east bank, while no vehicles had yet crossed.

After the 1967 debacle, the army was reorganised into two field armies, the Second Army and the Third Army, both of which were stationed in the eastern part of the country.[42] The 1969–1970 War of Attrition served to prepare Egypt for the next conflict. The October War of 1973 began with Operation Badr, a massive and successful crossing of the Suez Canal.[43] Casualties were relatively light; Dupuy cites Egyptian reports of under 200 killed.[44] The Syrians coordinated their attack on the Golan Heights to coincide with the Egyptian offensive and initially made threatening gains into Israeli-held territory.[45] As Egyptian president Anwar Sadat began to worry about Syria's fortunes, he believed that capturing two strategic mountain passes located deeper in the Sinai would make his position stronger during the negotiations.[46] The Egyptians went back on the offensive on 14 October, but the attack was quickly repulsed.[47] The Israelis then counterattacked at the juncture of the Second and Third Armies, crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and began slowly advancing southward and westward in over a week of heavy fighting which inflicted heavy casualties on both sides.[48]

On 22 October a United Nations-brokered ceasefire quickly unraveled, with each side blaming the other for the breach. By 24 October, the Israelis had improved their positions considerably and completed their encirclement of the Third Army and the city of Suez.[49] This development led to tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. As a result, a second ceasefire was imposed cooperatively on 25 October to end the war. At the conclusion of hostilities, Israeli forces were just 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Damascus and 101 kilometres (63 mi) from Cairo. Egypt claimed victory in the Yom Kippur War because its military objective of capturing a foothold of Sinai was achieved.[50]

Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal on 7 October

After 1973 the army fought in the 1977 Libyan-Egyptian War.[51] The army had an estimated strength of 320,000 in 1989.[42] About 180,000 of these were conscripts. Beyond the Second Army and Third Army in the east, most of the remaining troops were stationed in the Nile Delta region, around the upper Nile, and along the Libyan border. These troops were organized into eight military districts. Commando and airborne units were stationed near Cairo under central control but could be transferred quickly to one of the field armies if needed.[42] District commanders, who generally held the rank of major general, maintained liaison with governors and other civil authorities on matters of domestic security.

Decision making in the army continued to be highly centralized during the 1980s.[52] Officers below brigade level rarely made tactical decisions and required the approval of higher-ranking authorities before they modified any operations. Senior army officers were aware of this situation and began taking steps to encourage initiative at the lower levels of command. A shortage of well-trained enlisted personnel became a serious problem for the army as it adopted increasingly complex weapons systems.[52] Observers estimated in 1986 that 75 percent of all conscripts were illiterate when they entered the military.

Egyptian soldiers man M-2 .50-caliber machine guns atop M-113 armored personnel carriers during a demonstration for visiting dignitaries, part of Operation Desert Shield

The army was used to suppress the 1986 Egyptian conscripts riot.

Since the 1980s the army has built closer and closer ties with the United States, as evidenced in the bi-annual Operation Bright Star exercises. This cooperation eased integration of the Egyptian Army into the Gulf War coalition of 1990–91, during which the Egyptian II Corps under Maj. Gen. Salah Mohamed Attia Halaby, with 3rd Mechanised Division and 4th Armoured Division, fought as part of the Arab Joint Forces Command North.[53] Halaby had been transferred from command of the presidential guard after the initial commander, General Ahmed Bilal, was recalled by Mubarak before the war started because of differences with the Saudi generals.[54]

The Army conducted Exercise Badr '96 in 1996 in the Sinai.[55] The exercises in the Sinai were part of a larger exercise that involved 35,000 men in total.[56]

Twenty-first century and revolution

In January 2011, a delegation led by the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan, was in Washington, D.C., although the visit was truncated due to the protests. The sessions, an annual country-to-country military coordination, were being led for the U.S. by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow. A meeting with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other talks had been planned to extend to 2 February. However, in light of events in Egypt, the delegation left Washington to return home.[57] Before their Friday night departure, Vershbow urged the two dozen Egyptian military representatives "to exercise 'restraint'".[58] On 31 January 2011, during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Israeli media reported that the 9th, 2nd, and 7th Divisions of the Army had been ordered into Cairo to help restore order.[59]

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was convened during the course of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and assumed power when Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011.[60]

An Egyptian soldier atop a tank in Tahrir Square, during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

On Sunday 12 August 2012, newly elected President Mohamed Morsi announced a series of military appointments. Hussein Tantawi, the Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was retired.[61] Morsi also retired Sami Anan, the Army's Chief of Staff. Morsi awarded both men state medals and appointed them as advisors to the president. Thirdly, the president appointed the head of military intelligence, Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, as Minister of Defence to replace Tantawi. Sedki Sobhi, the commander of the Third Army, was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. Morsi also retired the Commander of the Navy, Mohab Memish, and appointed him as head of the Suez Canal Authority.

On 3 July 2013 in response to millions of Egyptians demands demonstrating in streets all over Egypt since 30 June 2013,[62][63][64] the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, then-Colonel General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the removal of President Mohamed Morsi from power, the suspension of the constitution, and new presidential and House of Representatives elections. The severe crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi supporters commenced. Incidents such as the 2013 Republican Guard headquarters clashes and the August 2013 Rabaa massacre claimed the lives of hundreds to thousands of demonstrators by military and police forces.[65]


Main article: Politics of Egypt
Members of the Free Officers welcomed by crowds in Cairo in January 1953. Standing in the automobile, from left to right: Youssef Seddik, Salah Salem, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Abdel Latif Boghdadi

The Armed Forces enjoy considerable power, prestige and independence within the Egyptian state.[66] The first democratically-elected president who served for one year was removed by a military coup after the June 2013 Egyptian protests throughout Egypt.[67] The Egyptian Constitution of 2012 passed under Morsi included protections for the military from legal and parliamentary oversight, and deferred to "objections from the country's military leadership" by removing a "clear prohibition on trials of civilians before military courts" some drafters had tried to include.[68][69]

Starting with the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which created the Republic of Egypt, organized by the Free Officers Movement, presidents of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak were ex-military officers for almost 60 years.[70] This was interrupted with the 2011 revolution,[71] when President Mubarak was forced to step down by the military in response to the revolution, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled until it held a presidential election which resulted in Mohamed Morsi taking office.[72] On 3 July 2013, responding to millions in the streets, the head of the Armed Forces then-General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi and installation of the interim civilian president the Chief Justice of Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour.[73] On 4 July 2013, Mansour was sworn in as acting president.[74] On 26 March 2014 el-Sisi resigned from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[75] He won the 26–28 May 2014 election in a landslide.[76] Sisi was sworn into office as President of Egypt on 8 June 2014.[77][78][79]

The Armed Forces has its own hospitals, factories, clubs, and gas stations staffed by its officers, soldiers, and civilians. The organisation is influential in business circles, engaging in road and housing construction, consumer goods, resort management,[66] and owning extensive tracts of real estate. Much military information is not made publicly available, including budget information, the names of the general officers and the military's size (which is considered a state secret).[66] According to journalist Joshua Hammer, "as much as 40% of the Egyptian economy" is controlled by the Egyptian military.[80] Abul-Magd writes that '..The entrenched economic interests of the military institution provide it with both incentives and resources to uphold political hegemony.'[81]

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel participates in an arrival honors ceremony with Egyptian Minister of Defense, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in Cairo, Egypt, April 24, 2013

The United States provides significant assistance to the Egyptian Armed Forces. In 2009, the U.S. provided nominal $1.3 billion to the Egyptian military ($1.44 billion in 2016).[82][83] Egypt is a participant in NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue forum. Much of the U.S. equipment such as tanks and jet fighters are actually surplus to Egyptian needs and kept in storage.[84] U.S. experts write of the Egyptian military's unwillingness to reorientate itself towards more realistic 21st-century threats: "were the military to proclaim an end to the era of large-scale land battles and to act accordingly, it would call into question its very existence."[85] Preparations for large-scale operations act as a convenient fig-leaf to hide the military's inability to adapt, and its primary role in supporting the regime, provide large-scale employment, and to generate resources through its business activities.[86]

According to Article 200 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, the Armed Forces belong to the People, and their duty is to protect the country, and preserve its security and the integrity of its territories.[nb 3]

Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

In early July 2014, the Egyptian military released a bulletin detailing personnel changes in the armed forces.[87] Two well-established generals were removed from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and given new positions: Taher Abdullah, director of the Engineering Authority, and Saeed Abbas, commander of the Northern Military Region. Abdullah is now an assistant defense minister, while Abbas is head of the infantry—neither of these positions warrant a spot on the SCAF. They have been replaced by their deputies, Emad al-Alfi and Mohamed al-Zamalout, respectively. Also, according to reports, Salah al-Badri is now acting director of military intelligence. He previously served as head of security within military intelligence when Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was director.[88]

Lieutenant General Osama Askar retained his seat on the SCAF after being appointed as commander of the new unified command for east of the Canal in January 2015.


Main article: Conscription in Egypt

The Constitution mandates conscription but provides a variety of options for national service. Conscripts may be required to serve either in the police force, the prison-guard service, or in one of the military economic service units. As of 2012 men 18–30 years of age a subject to conscript military service; service obligation – 18–36 months, followed by a 9-year reserve obligation; voluntary enlistment possible from age 16. Women were not subject to conscription.[107]

In 1988 almost 12.5 million men were between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine. More than 8 million of these men were considered fit for military service. Although 519,000 men reached the draft age of twenty each year by 1990, only about 80,000 of these men were conscripted to serve in the armed forces. By 2010 more than 21 million men were between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine. More than 18 million of these men were considered fit for military service. Over 780,000 men reached the draft age of twenty each year in 2010, but only a fraction of these men were conscripted to serve in the armed forces.[108]

An Egyptian Army soldier takes his position on top of an armored vehicle as he guards the Supreme Constitutional court in Cairo.

Volunteers earned considerably higher salaries and twice as much leave time as conscripts. Those conscripts who chose to reenlist were often among the less qualified. The result of this situation was a scarcity of NCOs with the proper level of proficiency. The navy and the air force had a smaller conscript-to- volunteer ratio, but these branches of the military faced similar problems. In all services senior NCOs could become candidates for commissions after eight years of duty. These NCOs usually were those with functional specialties who could qualify as warrant officers.[109][110]

Conscripts served three years of active duty after which they remained in reserve for an additional period. Conscripts with degrees from institutions of higher education had to serve only eighteen months. The government required all males to register for the draft when they reached age sixteen. The government delineated several administrative zones for conscription purposes. Each zone had a council of military officers, civil officials, and medical officers who selected draftees. Local mayors and village leaders also participated in the selection process. After the council granted exemptions and deferments, it chose conscripts by lot from the roster of remaining names. Individuals eligible to be inducted were on call for three years. After that period, they could no longer be drafted.[109][111]

Today conscripts without a college degree serve three years as enlisted soldiers. Conscripts with a General Secondary School Degree serve two years as enlisted soldiers. Conscripts with a college degree serve 14 months as enlisted or 27 months as a reserve officer.[112] Officers for the army are trained at the Egyptian Military Academy.

Personnel in each service

As of 2015, The Egyptian Armed Forces were reported to have 438,500–470,000 active personnel, 479,000–800,000 reserve personnel.[3]

Componentin serviceReserve
Egyptian Army310,000[3]375,000[3]
Egyptian Air Force30,000[3]20,000[3]
Egyptian Navy18,500[3]14,000[3]
Egyptian Air Defense Forces80,000[3]70,000[3]


The Headquarters of the Egyptian Armed Forces are in Koubri el-Quba, Cairo.[1] The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the senior uniformed officer, is currently Colonel General Sedki Sobhi and the Chief of Staff is currently Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy. The Ministry of Defence and Military Production is responsible for managing the affairs of the Egyptian Armed Forces and maintaining its facilities.

The main branches of the Armed Forces are the Egyptian Army, the Egyptian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Defense Command, and the Egyptian Navy. The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) are the second biggest branch under control of the armed forces. The EAF has over 1,100 aircraft (fixed-wing and helicopters)[113] and controls about 17 air bases. The Egyptian Navy is the largest navy in the Middle East and Africa. The Egyptian Air Defense Forces is the latest established branch in the Armed Forces consists of 30,000 officers & soldiers plus 40,000 conscripts.[3]

Departments of the Egyptian Armed Forces include the Departments of Armament Affairs, Officers' Affairs, Management and Administration and the Department of Morale Affairs (DMA) which is responsible for managing the Egyptian Armed Forces' public image, boosting goodwill towards troops, writing the speeches of the Armed forces' public statements, contacting the media and organizing the Egyptian Armed Forces' conferences and symposiums. Moreover, The Medical management of the armed forces is responsible for managing the medical affairs of the armed forces as well as controlling the hospitals run by the Armed Forces which serves both civilians and military personnel estimated at 19 hospitals in Cairo, 8 in Alexandria, 3 in Matrouh, 2 in each of Ismailia and Gharbia, one in each of Port Said, Al Sharqia, Dakahlia, Beni Suef, Minya, Sohag, Qena, Aswan, Kafr el-Sheikh, and North Sinai.[114]

The Engineering Authority (EAAF)'s missions vary between war and peace time. In wartime the authority is responsible for the engineering aid to the Forces, one of the Authority major operations was Operation Badr. In peacetime the authority is responsible in helping build Egypt's infrastructure and the national projects including Cities, stadiums, clubs. The Financial Authority (FA) is responsible for the financial matters in the armed forces and the Research Authority.

The armed forces also hold control of military judiciary and military intelligence directorate.

Egyptian Ground Forces

M1 Abrams the main tank of the Egyptian Army

The Egyptian Ground Forces is administratively divided into four regions (Northern, Western Military Region, Central, Southern), each under control of a Major General in addition to two armies (2nd, 3rd Armies) and different corps (Armor, Mechanized, Artillery, Airmobile, Airborne, Infantry, frontier, military police, intelligence, Republican Guard, Special Forces).

Even though the Egyptian military became oriented toward the West after the October 1973 War, it still had large amounts of Soviet equipment in its arms inventory.[42] In the 1970s, the Egyptian armored corps was composed almost exclusively of Soviet tanks, the best of which was the T-62. In 1989, the stock of main battle tanks consisted of 785 M60A3s from the United States, together with more than 1,600 Soviet-made T-54/55s, and T-62s. Some of these older Soviet tanks were being refitted in the West with 105mm guns, diesel engines, fire-control systems, and external armor. Armored personnel carriers (APCs) consisted of 1,000 M113A2s from the United States, more than 1,000 BTR-50s and OT-62 TOPASs from the Soviet Union, and about 200 Fahds, which were manufactured in Egypt based on a design from the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The army also had more than 700 infantry combat vehicles that were manufactured by the Soviet Union and Spain. Egypt also launched a program to increase the mobility of artillery and rockets by mounting them on the chassis of tanks and APCs.

Equipment from the Soviet Union is being progressively replaced by more modern U.S., French, and British equipment, a significant portion of which is built under license in Egypt, such as the M1A2 Abrams tank. Springborg writes however that even a sizable amount of the modern equipment is unserviceable; some 400 of the 2,000 M-1A1s are in long-term storage.[85]

Under the Ministry of Defence is the Egyptian Military Operations Authority with its headquarters in Cairo.[115] The Egyptian Armed Forces' Chief of Staff's office is in Cairo. He is also chief of staff of the army. Formally, he is also chief of staff of the air force and navy as well, but apparently the commanders of the other two services frequently report directly to the Minister of Defence/Commander-in-Chief.[116]

On 31 January 2015 a "unified command" to oversee counterterrorism operations east of the Suez Canal was established.[87] Osama Askar, commander of the Third Field Army, was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of the new "unified command."[117] Askar will also retain his seat on the SCAF.

The unified command directs:

Egyptian Air Force

Egypt became the Rafale's first international customer when it officially ordered 24 Rafales

The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) is the aviation branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces. As of 1989, the Egyptian Air Force's front-rank fighters consisted of sixty-seven multimission General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons and thirty-three McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II from the United States, as well as sixteen Dassault Mirage 2000s from France.[52] A large inventory of older MiG aircraft (some of which were Chinese versions assembled in Egypt) backed up the more modern fighters. The air force had fitted many of the MiGs with advanced Western electronics, including radars, jamming equipment, and AIM-9 Sidewinder and Matra air-to-air missiles.

It has about 1,136 fixed-wing and rotary aircraft in operational service.[113] Currently, the backbone of the EAF is the F-16. The Mirage 2000 is the other modern interceptor used by the EAF. The Egyptian Air Force has 228 F-16s (plus 12 awaiting delivery) making it the fourth largest operator of the F-16 in the World.[119] Having at least 46 Apache's AH-64Ds,[120] it also continues to fly extensively upgraded MiG-21s, F-7 Skybolts, F-4 Phantoms, Dassault Mirage Vs,[121] and the C-130 Hercules among other planes.

The Air Force is continuing to buy new aircraft. In April 2015, Egypt signed a contract, worth up to $2 billion, for 50 Mikoyan MiG-35 fighter aircraft,[122]

Egyptian Air Defense Forces

S-300VM Entered service in November 2014.[123][124][125]

The Egyptian Air Defense Forces (EADF), is the service responsible for air defense. Egypt patterned its Air Defense Force after the Soviet Air Defence Forces. All its air defense capabilities – antiaircraft gun and missile units, interceptor aircraft, and radar and warning installations - came under the same service branch.[126]

The Commander in Chief is Lieutenant General Abd Al-Moniem Al-Terras[127] and the Chief of Air Defense Staff is Major General Ali Fahmi Mohammed Ali Fahmi.[128] The EADF consists of 30,000 officers & soldiers plus 50,000 conscripts.

Egyptian Navy

Some Egyptian Navy fleet units are stationed in the Red Sea, but the bulk of the force remains in the Mediterranean. Navy headquarters and the main operational and training base are located at Ras el Tin near Alexandria. The current commander is Vice admiral Osama El-Gendi.

The majority of the Egyptian Navy's ships were received from the Soviet Union in the 1960s and China in the 1980s. Since the late 1990s the Navy has also acquired vessels from western sources such as the United States, Germany and France. In 2016, according to SIPRI, vessels ordered by or delivered to Egypt in the last year or so included four Gowind-class corvettes ordered from France in 2014 and scheduled for delivery in 2017-19; six Swiftships-35 patrol craft received from the US in 2014; two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships; four EDAR landing craft for the Mistrals; and a single FREMM frigate delivered in 2015.[129] A Euro 3.3 billion dollar loan was announced in March 2016 to help fund the French vessels.

An Egyptian Navy Special Unit

The Navy Sa'ka are the Navy units of special purpose, and specialize in dealing with various hostilities using intrusion methods with the coastal targets, and implementation of Alrmayat live ammunition of diving conditions, the surface using fast launches against goals and Alrmayat, and secure maritime theater against floating facilities suspected and the work of the various maritime infiltration.

The Navy also controls the Egyptian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is responsible for the onshore protection of public installations near the coast and the patrol of coastal waters to prevent smuggling. It has an inventory consisting of about thirty five large patrol craft (each between twenty and thirty meters in length) and twenty smaller Bertram-class coastal patrol craft built in the United States. The Egyptian Coast Guard has over 5,000 personnel.[3]

Egyptian Rapid deployment Forces

Egyptian Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF) is one of the branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces. It was formed in March 2014 by the former defense minister field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.[130] It is mainly airborne troops with a special formation, and it is characterized by the ability to perform operations inside and outside the Egyptian mainland.

Member of Egyptian Thunderbolt Forces perform during a medal parade in Bukavu.

Special Forces

Egytian special forces are under the control of different branches. Most of the officers take the special Sa'ka Course. They include the Sa'ka Forces ("Lightning") forces, usually described as high-quality light infantry, which showed their mettle in the Battle of Ismailia during the Yom Kippur War. Reportedly the Sa'ka were founded in 1955. There are also at least two anti-terrorist hostage rescue units, Unit 777, whose most famous operation was raiding the Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus, in February 1978 to liberate Egyptians and Arab hostages, resulting in the killing of 15 and wounding of 16 Egyptians, and Unit 999, a Special operations and reconnaissance unit, was founded by Major General / Nabil Abu Naga at the end of the seventies.

Republican Guard

Egyptian honor guard soldiers welcome U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen

The Egyptian Republican Guard does not receive instructions from the leadership of the armed forces. Instead it receives the President's instructions from his officers only. The Republican Guard mission to protect the President of the Republic and the Republican entire system, including its facilities and its institutions, including the presidential palaces and command centers, airports presidency, extending their suitability for the protection of institutions such as the People's Assembly and the Constitutional Court and the Council of State during the war.

The Republican Guard covers the movements of the President of Egypt, using a working group made up of the Central Security soldiers belonging Interior Ministry to secure the roads going through the president's motorcade and the area around his whereabouts, then infantry Republican Guard to secure his whereabouts, and vehicles of the Republican Guard started carrying soldiers from lightning Republican Guard, as 8 precedes the procession of motorcycles trained forces on coherent fighting.

Military industry

Egyptian-made Fahd APC

State-owned enterprises which are under control of the Armament Authority headed by a major general, are the main domestic producers of Egypt's defense systems. The Arab Organization for Industrialization, which has about 19,000 employees out of which are 1250 are engineers,[131] more than nine military factories producing both civilian and military products,[132] is considered Egypt military's most important domestic weapons supplier.[133] Egypt is one of the few countries in the Middle East, and the only Arab state, with a reconnaissance satellite and has launched another one in 2014.[134]

The Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Egypt's main battle tank, the M1 Abrams,[135] is made locally under license in addition to Egyptian-upgraded Ramses II, T-62 and T-45E. Egyptian military industry includes Sakr Eye missiles,[136] (Nile 23, and RPGs. K-8E Trainer aircraft,[137] in addition to aircraft overhaul and maintenance.[138]

Locally made military vehicles include various Fahd APCs and IFVs,[139] the Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle (EIFV), SIFV, Walid MKII, Jeep Wrangler TJL, Jeep J8, Kader-320 armored vehicle, Mercedes G-320 armored vehicle, Iveco VM 90 and Hotspur HUSSARD.[140]

Egypt also locally produces small arms such as Helwan, Helwan 920 guns,[141] Misr machine gun,[142] Maadi assault rifles,[143] FN Minimi, FN MAG, SG-43 Goryunov, MK19.[144]

Weapons of mass destruction and missiles

The International Red Cross hospital at Uqd, North Yemen, where the use of chemical weapons was alleged to have occurred.

Egypt, with a history of using weapons of mass destruction,[145] remains one of only four countries not to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention and hasn't ratified the Biological Weapons Convention.[146] Egypt's chemical weapons program is the most developed of its pursuit of developing a Weapons of Mass Destruction program though it is thought this reached its peak in the 1960s.[147] Egypt was one of the few countries to use chemical weapons after World War I during the North Yemen Civil War when phosgene and mustard gas was used against Royalist forces in Northern Yemen.[148] Egypt has maintained a policy of not signing the Chemical Weapons Convention until questions regarding Israel's nuclear weapons program are answered.[149] Egypt signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) on 10 April 1972 but has not ratified it.[150]

Prior to signing the BWC President Anwar Sadat of Egypt made the following comment to a question about if Israel were to use biological weapons:

"The only reply to biological warfare is that we too should use biological warfare. I believe that the density of the Israeli population confined in a small area would provide the opportunity to reply with the same weapon if they should begin using it. Briefly, we have the instruments of biological warfare in the refrigerators and we will not use them unless they begin to use them."[151]

NBC Capabilities

Military exercises

Left: Aircraft over the pyramids during Bright Star '83
Right: Egyptian, Pakistani and American paratroopers during Military Operations in Urban Terrain training at the Mubarak Military City

The Egyptian Armed forces' different branches are engaged in annually military exercises locally in addition to exercises with different armies including:

Overseas deployments

Egyptian medical personnel for their support during a tour of the Egyptian field hospital in Bagram
Egyptian Peacekeeper ensuring the security of civilian population in the town of Bukavu

Egypt has and continues to be committed to strengthening international action through the United Nations and African action through the African Union to achieve collective security and uphold the goals enshrined in the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.[4] Egypt is a longstanding and committed contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Egypt’s first contribution to UN peacekeeping was in 1960 in the Congo.[152] Since then, Egypt has contributed to 37 UN missions with over 30,000 peacekeepers, deployed in 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.[153]

Countries where Egypt has participated in international peacekeeping forces have included:

In order to support peacekeeping efforts of the African continent, Egypt established the Cairo Center for Training on Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa.[154] Starting from 1995 until now, the center trained around 200 students per year from African countries.[155] The center offer courses in French, English and Portuguese with the aim of strengthening the cooperation and interaction between the linguistic and cultural groups in Africa.[156]

Military academies

Military Decorations and Medals

Medal of Courage Medal of Sinai Liberation Medal of Training Medal of Military Duty Medal of the Silver Anniversary of October Victory Medal of Long Service and Good Example Medal of Distinguished Service Kuwait Liberation Medal Medal of the Gold Anniversary of 23 July 1952 Revolution

Uniforms and insignia

In the early 1990s the U.S. Federal Research Division wrote that rank insignia were similar for the army, navy, and air force. The grade structure had seventeen ranks ranging from private to general. Each rank had a counterpart in all services. Commissioned officers in the army and navy wore gold insignia on shoulder boards; officers in the air force wore silver ones. Army enlisted personnel wore green stripes; air force enlisted personnel wore blue stripes on the upper sleeve.[157]

Egyptian military uniforms were similar to British uniforms. Each branch of the military had dress, service or garrison, and field uniforms. Dress uniforms were worn mostly on formal occasions. The service uniform was worn for daily duty.[157] The service uniform for the ground forces was khaki cotton; personnel in the air force wore blue, and the navy wore navy blue in winter and white in summer. Egyptian officers purchased their uniforms, but enlisted personnel received a standard uniform issue, which consisted of service and field uniforms, fatigues, and in some cases, dress uniforms.

Rank insignia were similar for the army, navy, and air force.[157] The grade structure had seventeen ranks ranging from private to general. Each rank had a counterpart in all services. Commissioned officers in the army and navy wore gold insignia on shoulder boards; officers in the air force wore silver ones. Army enlisted personnel wore green stripes; air force enlisted personnel wore blue stripes on the upper sleeve.

Army Airborne Thunderbolt Republican Guard

Non-military affairs

The Egyptian Armed Forces established the National Service Products Organisation which has more than 10 sub-companies and factories specialized in public service and civil production including chemicals, cements, plastics, housing construction, consumer goods and military-owned resorts management.

The armed forces of Egypt helped in building several national projects such as construction of Egypt's main roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, stadiums, clubs, hospitals, international medical centers, medical units, schools, scientific centers, educational centers, cities, factories, desert land reclamation, slums developments, water desalination plants and faculties.[158]

Egyptian armed forces also has three football clubs playing in the Egyptian Premier League. El-Entag El-Harby SC (Military Production), Tala'ea El-Gaish SC (Army's Vanguards) and Haras El-Hodood SC (Border Guards).

See also


  1. Motto is intended to continue the fight no matter what the losses until we achieve the objective or the courtyard, offset by freedom or death, but it differs in that the logo gives the sanctity and meaning of a religious battle and die for the goal.
  2. The National Security Council shall be chaired by the President of the Republic, and comprise the membership of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Communication and the Minister of Education, the Chief of the General Intelligence Service, and the Head of the Committee of Defense and National Security at the House of Representatives. The Council shall be responsible for adopting strategies for establishing the security of the country and facing disasters and crises of all kinds, shall take the necessary measures to contain them, to identify sources of threat to the Egyptian national security, inside the country or abroad, and to undertake the necessary actions to address them at both official and popular levels. The Council may invite any person having relevant expertise to attend its meetings without having the right to vote. The law shall determine the other competences of the Council and its regulations. Article 203 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014. Unofficial translation of the 2014 constitution
  3. The Armed Forces belong to the People, and their duty is to protect the country, and preserve its security and the integrity of its territories. Only the State shall be entitled to establish the Armed Forces. No individual, organisation, entity, or group shall be allowed to create military or quasimilitary squadrons, groups or organizations. The Armed Forces shall have a supreme council, as regulated by Law. Article 200 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, Unofficial translation of the 2014 constitution


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