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Egyptian Armed Forces

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Egyptian Armed Forces
Coat of arms of Egypt (Official).svg
Coat of arms of Egypt
Founded 1922
Current form 1952
Service branches

Flag of the Army of Egypt.svg Egyptian Army
Naval Ensign of Egypt.svg Egyptian Navy
Air Force Ensign of Egypt.svg Egyptian Air Force

Egyptian Air Defense Command
Headquarters Cairo
Supreme Commander Sedki Sobhy
Minister of Defence & Commander in Chief Sedki Sobhy
Chief of Staff & Deputy Supreme Commander Mahmoud Hegazy
Military age 18-49 years old
Conscription 1-3 years depending on circumstances
Active personnel 438,500, incl. 290,000–320,000 conscripts[1]
Reserve personnel 479,000[2]
Budget US$5.47 billion (2015), incl. US$1.3 billion of U.S military aid annually[2]
Percent of GDP 1.8% (2015)[2]
Foreign suppliers  United States
 United Kingdom
 Soviet Union
Related articles

Second World War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
Egyptian Revolution of 1952
Tripartite Aggression
North Yemeni Civil War
Six Day War
Nigerian Civil War
War of Attrition
October War
Shaba I
Libyan–Egyptian War
Gulf War

Egyptian Revolution of 2011
Military ranks of Egypt
(until 1958)
Egyptian ranks
General of the army/
field marshal
Fariq awwal
فريق أول
Lieutenant general
Major general
أمير آلاي
قائم مقام
Lieutenant colonel
Mulazim awwal
ملازم أول
First lieutenant
Mulazim thani
ملازم ثاني
Second lieutenant
Non-commissioned officers

The Egyptian Armed Forces — the largest military in Africa and the Arab World and the 10th largest in the world — consists of the Egyptian Army, Egyptian Navy, Egyptian Air Force and Egyptian Air Defense Command.[3]

In addition, Egypt maintains large paramilitary forces.[4] The Central Security Forces comes under the control of the Ministry of Interior. The Border Guard Forces and the National Guard falls under the control of the Ministry of Defense.

The modern Egyptian armed forces have been involved in numerous crises and 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 Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the senior uniformed officer, is Field Marshal Sedki Sobhy (since March 2014)[5] and the Chief of Staff is Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan.

The Armed Forces' inventory includes equipment from different countries around the world. 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 M1 Abrams tank.

To bolster stability and moderation in the region, Egypt has provided military assistance and training to a number of other African and Arab states. Although not a NATO member, Egypt remains a strong military and strategic partner and is a participant in NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue forum. The Egyptian military is one of the strongest in the region.[6] 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 2007.[7]

The Armed Forces enjoy considerable power and independence within the Egyptian state.[8] They are also influential in business, engaging in road and housing construction, consumer goods, resort management,[8] and vast 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).[8] According to journalist Joshua Hammer, "as much as 40% of the Egyptian economy" is controlled by the Egyptian military.[9]

Senior members of the military can convene for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, so during the course of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, when Mubarak resigned and transferred power to this body on February 11, 2011.[10]

Twentieth century history[edit]

In the early 1950s, politics rather than military competence was the main criterion for promotion.[11] The Egyptian commander, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, was a purely political appointee who owed his position to his close friendship with Nasser. He would prove himself grossly incompetent as a general during the Suez Crisis.[12] 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.[13] Tsouras writes that the Israelis "seized and held the ..initiative throughout the campaign and quickly destroyed the Egyptian defences."[14] 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.[14]

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).[15] 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.[16] Israel considered the closure of the straits deadly serious, and prepared their armed forces to attack.[16] 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.[17] Nevertheless, Israel felt they needed to take action.

The Egyptian army now comprised two armoured and five infantry divisions, all deployed in the Sinai.[18] 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.[19] 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.[19]

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.[20] This developed into a rout as the Israelis harried the retreating troops from the ground and from the air.


The inventory of the Egyptian armed forces includes equipment from the United States, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China. 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 M1A1 Abrams tank which makes Egypt the owner of the second largest number of latest generation main battle tanks in the region after Israel, and the second after Syria in case of the older generations. Conscripts for the army and other service branches without a university degree serve three years as enlisted soldiers. Conscripts with a General Secondary School Degree serve two years as enlisted personnel. Conscripts with a university degree serve one year as enlisted personnel or three years as a reserve officer. Officers for the army are trained at the Egyptian Military Academy.

Air Force[edit]

Egyptian Mi-8 Hip helicopters after unloading troops

The Egyptian Air Force or EAF is the aviation branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Currently, the backbone of the EAF is the F-16. The EAF (planes and pilot training) is considered to be the strongest in Africa and one of the strongest in the Middle East. The Mirage 2000 is the other modern interceptor used by the EAF. The Egyptian Air Force has 216 F-16s (plus 20 on order) making it the 4th largest operator of the F-16 in the World. It has about 579 combat aircraft and 149 armed helicopters as it continues to fly extensively upgraded MiG-21s, F-7 Skybolts, F-4 Phantoms, Dassault Mirage Vs, and the C-130 Hercules among other planes. The Air Force is undergoing massive modernization. Mikoyan confirmed that talks with Egypt are underway[when?] for the sale of 40 Mig-29SMT jet-fighters with a possible additional batch of 60-80 planes.

An Egyptian F16C Pilot

Air Defense Command[edit]

The Egyptian Air Defense Command or ADF (Quwwat El Diffaa El Gawwi in Arabic) is Egypt's military command responsible for air defense. Egypt patterned its Air Defense Force (ADF) after the Soviet Air Defence Force, which integrated all its air defense capabilities – antiaircraft guns, rocket and missile units, interceptor planes, and radar and warning installations.

Its commander is Lieutenant General Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen.


Egyptian Mirage 5 at Cairo-West 1985

Although the Egyptian Navy is the smallest branch of the military, it is large by Middle Eastern standards.

Some 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 Mohab Mamish.

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.

See list of naval ships of Egypt for a list of vessels in service.

Arab Organization for Industrialization[edit]

The Arab Organization for Industrialization supervises nine military factories which produce civilian goods as well as military products. Initially the owners of AOI were the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, before the latter governments gave their shares back to Egypt in 1993, valued at $1.8 billion. AOI now is entirely owned by the government of Egypt. AOI has about 19,000 employees out of which are 1250 engineers. AOI fully owns 10 factories and shares in 2 joint ventures, plus the Arab Institute for Advanced Technology

Military schools[edit]

Egyptian Military Police

There is an undergraduate military school for each branch of the Egyptian Military establishment, and they include:

Foreign military assistance[edit]

The U.S. provides annual military assistance to the Egyptian Armed Forces. In 2009, the U.S. provided nominal $1.3 billion to the Egyptian military ($1.45 billion in 2017).[21] This level is second only to Israel.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IISS 2016, pp. 324-326.
  2. ^ a b c IISS 2016, p. 324.
  3. ^ Staff, By the CNN Wire. "Egypt's military: Key facts". Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  4. ^ IISS Military Balance 2007, p.223
  5. ^ "Sedki Sobhi sworn in as Egypt's new military chief". BBC. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Egypt". Britannica. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  7. ^ "Egypt to launch first spy satelllite". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  8. ^ a b c Cambanis, Thanassis (11 September 2010). "Succession Gives Army a Stiff Test in Egypt". New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Egypt: Who Calls the Shots? Joshua Hammer|| 18 August 2011| (free online article not complete, does not include quoted portion).
  10. ^ Murdock, Heather (February 11, 2011). "Crowds rejoice as Egypt’s Mubarak steps down, hands power to military". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  11. ^ Varble, Derek (2003) 'Essential Histories: The Suez Crisis 1956' p. 17.
  12. ^ Varble 2003, Pollack 2002
  13. ^ Varble, Derek (2003) p. 18.
  14. ^ a b Tsouras, 1994, 127.
  15. ^ John Keegan, World Armies, Second Edition, MacMillan, 1983, p.165 ISBN 978-0-333-34079-0
  16. ^ a b Dupuy, Trevor N. (1978). Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974. London: MacDonald and Jane's. p. 228. ISBN 0-356-08090-0. 
  17. ^ T.N. Dupuy, 1978, 229-230, citing Hussein, 'My "War" with Israel,' 1969.
  18. ^ Tsouras, 'Changing Orders,' Facts on File, 1994, 191. Dupuy (1978) lists the 2nd, 3rd, 7th Infantry Division, 6th Mechanised, 20th Palestinian, and 4th Armoured, plus an armoured task force. Dupuy, 239-240.
  19. ^ a b Pollack, 2002, 60.
  20. ^ Dupuy, 1978, 267-9.
  21. ^ "Scenesetter: President Mubarak's visit to Washington". US Department of State. 2009-05-19. 
  22. ^ David Costello (February 1, 2011). "Nation locked in a deadly stalemate". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • IISS (2016). The Military Balance 2016. Routledge. ISBN 978-1857438352. 
  • Hazem Kandil, 'Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt,' Verso, 2012
  • Kenneth M. Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948-91, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2002, and Pollack's book reviewed in International Security, Vol. 28, No.2.
  • Norvell deAtkine, 'Why Arabs Lose Wars,' Middle East Quarterly, 6(4).
  • CMI Publications, "The Egyptian military in politics and the economy: Recent history and current transition status". Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  • Maj Gen Mohammed Fawzy, The Three-Years War (in Arabic)
  • H.Frisch, Guns and butter in the Egyptian Army, p. 6. Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer 2001).
  • Dr Mohammed al-Jawadi, In Between the Catastrophe: Memoirs of Egyptian Military Commanders from 1967 to 1972 (in Arabic)
  • Hazem Kandil, Soldiers, spies, and statesmen: Egypt's road to revolt. Verso Books, 2012.
  • Maj Gen Abed al-Menahim Khalil, Egyptian Wars in Modern History (in Arabic)
  • Andrew McGregor, A military history of modern Egypt: from the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006
  • "The Egyptian Armed Forces and the Remaking of an Economic Empire". Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  • Lt Gen Saad el-Shazly, The Crossing of the Suez

External links[edit]