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For the sake of the nation
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 27 - 07 - 2017

Egypt is making rapid strides in the overhaul of its armament systems and combat capacities, accommodating 21st century technological advances so as to be able to address regional and international challenges which impact on Egyptian national security. The chief aim of these efforts is to protect vital facilities and major development projects, safeguard strategic national interests and build a strong deterrent capacity.
This week saw several major military celebrations, including the 65th anniversary of the 23 July 1952 Revolution during which tribute was paid to the first president of the Egyptian Republic, Mohamed Naguib, after whom the newly constructed military base in Al-Hammam was named. Located west of Alexandria, it is the largest military base in the region. The inaugural ceremony also paid tribute to the leader of the 1952 Revolution, president Gamal Abdel-Nasser. A second military base — General Hassan Abu Seada Camp — was inaugurated in Sidi Barrani in the western zone and a graduation ceremony held for 1,500 students from military colleges. Administrative development and modernisation capacities at the Field Marshal Ahmed Badawi Camp in the Second Field Army zone were ramped up and a residential zone at the General Mohamed Abdel-Aziz Qabil Camp inaugurated.
NEW MILITARY BASES: The Mohamed Naguib Military Base is the successor to the military garrison built in Al-Hammam in 1993.
Contingents from the northern military zone have been re-stationed in the newly constructed base, supported by administrative and technical units. Their task is to protect vital areas in that north coast zone west of Alexandria which includes the site of the Dabaa nuclear plant, offshore petroleum fields, the port of Marsa Al-Hamra and New Alamein City.
The Army Engineering Authority supervised the construction of the 1,155 buildings that form the base as well as the development and expansion of roads inside and outside the camp. There are 18km of streets inside the base. Beyond the perimeter roadworks included the 11.5km long coastal link road, the 12.5km Al-Burqan road and the 14.6km Al- Umeid link road. The base has four main gateways as well as eight internal ones. The work also included the construction of new facilities that can accommodate 451 modern tank transport vehicles which have been relocated from Al-Amireya.
To ensure that a complete and comprehensive combat training system is available 72 fully equipped training fields were constructed, including small arms firing ranges and a complex for electronic tactical target practice equipped with state-of-the-art simulator systems. The marine landing platform in Al-Umeid has also been upgraded and expanded.
The Mohamed Naguib Base includes a residential quarter to host participants in joint training exercises. There are 27 rest houses for senior commanders, 14 apartment blocks for commissioned officers and 15 apartment blocks for non-commissioned officers. Two buildings are equipped to house 1,000 soldiers. Facilities include an officers' mess, canteens, lecture halls and a club complete with swimming pool, competition rings and gymnastic equipment. The capacity of the Al-Hammam military hospital has been increased to 50 beds and its medical equipment and machinery upgraded.
The base boasts a 1,600 capacity multipurpose conference hall, a state-of-the-art theatre, a centre for military combat competitions and language and computer labs, a museum dedicated to president Mohamed Naguib, a mosque which can accommodate 2,000 worshippers, an athletics village with a covered stadium and football field, an officers' club, a non-commissioned officers club, six open-air playing fields, basketball, handball and badminton courts.
The Barrani Base: The development of the Barrani base is a key part of the army's strategy to strengthen Egypt's western border and combat cross-border infiltration of terrorist elements, arms and drugs smuggling and illegal migration.
MILITARY ACQUISITIONS: Emphasis has been placed on improving the equipment and capacities of the navy and augmenting security in the Mediterranean and Red seas. The recently acquired French-made FREMM class frigate, Tahya Misr, will provide support for Egypt's combat fleet which has been boosted by the Mistral-class helicopter carrier and the acquisition of powerful multi-capacity and multi-task military hardware. The navy now includes German-made Type 209/1400 submarines, the most modern class of submarine in the world, advanced missile craft, fast attack vessels and Zodiac combat rubber raiding craft to transport frogmen.
The Air Force has been expanded to include French-produced Rafale multi-task fighters and contracts have been signed for Russian-made Mig-29 fighter planes and Kamov Ka-52 “alligator” combat helicopters. Recent acquisitions also include a CASA C-295 military transport aircraft manufactured in Spain, several US-made F-16 Block 52s and a number of drones. Egypt's French-made Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopters have been fitted with Red Arrow antitank missiles. The Air Force has consolidated its supply of missiles and ammunition and upgraded technical support and ground staff.
Much work has been done to improve the capacities of air bases and airports in strategic areas. The Air Force has been strengthened on the western front in the face of heightened threats caused by the deteriorating situation in Libya and the proliferation of terrorist groups there. The Air Force has been instrumental in deterring terrorist attacks from Libya and has struck terrorist bases inside Egypt's western neighbour, in the areas of Derna and Jaghbub. Vessels carrying arms, ammunitions and terrorist operatives from Libya have also been destroyed.
Radar coverage of Egyptian airspace at different altitudes has been developed and Buk and Tor-M missile batteries acquired alongside Igla-S manpads, a portable shoulder-launched missile system capable of intercepting aerial targets. New electro-visual systems enhance the speed and accuracy with which targets are intercepted and security systems are in place to safeguard missiles, radars and other equipment. Air Force command centres have been modernised and upgraded, utilising the latest military command and control systems.
The supply chain has been expanded by major joint venture projects, including the M1A1 co-production programme for M1 Abrams battle tanks, and domestic military production now encompasses technical equipment, antitank missiles, heavy ammunition, pilotless aircraft, high speed launches, trailers and tractors for transporting tanks, communications bridges and engineering equipment.
THE CHANGING NATURE OF WARFARE: The attendance of Arab guests at Egyptian military celebrations and military graduation ceremonies is an affirmation of solidarity and a recognition of the common threats faced by the Arab nation, said President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.
Addressing graduating cadets, Al-Sisi said: “Today, you begin your military careers under precarious regional and international conditions which will require from you the highest degrees of vigilance and combat readiness. This situation also demands your awareness of a set of basic principles to guide you. The honour of serving this great nation surpasses any other honour and to sacrifice oneself for its security, stability and dignity is an obligation incumbent on all loyal citizens. The Armed Forces, which you have the honour of joining today, is a venerable national institution which has always shouldered the duty of protecting this nation and its people.”
Addressing the families of graduates Al-Sisi said: “I congratulate you on the success of your sons and daughters. You are due the greatest esteem and respect for the values of dedication, self-sacrifice and patriotism that you have instilled in them.”
The president also saluted those in uniform who have died while serving the nation. “The martyrs of Egypt, the heroes of the Armed Forces and the people who sacrificed their lives: long may the people of Egypt live in safety,” he said.
At the inauguration of the Mohamed Naguib Base, Al-Sisi hailed its construction as testimony to the way “Egypt remains true to its loyal sons.” Late president Mohamed Naguib, he said, “acted on behalf of the nation at a delicate and crucial moment”.
On the 65th anniversary of the July Revolution, Al-Sisi noted: “This is an eternal day for Egypt. It is when the Egyptian people ruled again over their country, when they began their long and arduous struggle to realise their hopes for independence, freedom and development… The influences of this revolution extend far beyond Egypt. It inspired people around the world. It made national liberation a reality and ensured that the people's right to self-determination was universally recognised.”
“Let us pay tribute, today, to president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the leader of the July Revolution who epitomised the Egyptian people's aspirations for freedom and dignity and who expressed these hopes faithfully and proudly. He elevated the name of Egypt regionally and internationally and he strove to confront the challenges of his era to the fullest extent of his energies and abilities.”
Turning to current challenges, Al-Sisi said: “The nature of warfare has changed. The enemy, today is hidden and disguised. He doesn't risk direct confrontation but depends on terrorising peaceful people.”
“Terrorism is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon. Perhaps the most important aspect, which we have endured too long, is the role countries and agencies play in sponsoring and funding terrorism. Terrorism cannot be eliminated if we ignore the networks that finance it, back it logistically and promulgate it ideologically and in the media. We cannot tolerate those who spend billions of dollars to finance terrorism which leads to the death of our citizens while simultaneously paying lip service to the rights of brothers and neighbours. To these people we say: the blood of innocent people is dear. Your actions will not go unaccounted for.”
“We are progressing firmly and resolutely on this course. We are armed with a systematic scientific approach, an economic reform programme that has been thoroughly studied and carefully calculated. We are opening our economy to serious investment, whether from Egypt, the Arab world or abroad. We are creating new employment opportunities for young people commensurate with Egypt's population growth.”
CONFRONTING TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM: Addressing new military graduates, Minister of Defence General Sedki Sobhi spoke of the inauguration of the Mohamed Naguib Base, paying tribute to Naguib as head of the Free Officers and his role in establishing “a national government representative of all the Egyptian people and a strong national army to defend the sovereignty of Egypt's territory and resources”.
Sobhi also paid tribute to president Nasser and the other Free Officers who led the July Revolution, as well as “that great generation of the Egyptian people that championed freedom, independence and the desire to build a better tomorrow… As Gamal Abdel-Nasser said, the people are the leader and the teacher.” Sobhi lauded the Armed Forces as Egypt's “protective shield”.
The army, he said, “is the true embodiment of the noblest meanings of sacrifice, devotion and self-denial. Those who underestimate its value, capacities and strength are wrong.”
“The heroes of the Armed Forces, in cooperation with the valiant police, are sworn to serve the nation and are prepared to engage in the fiercest confrontations with the forces of evil, terrorism and extremism.”
These forces “are supported by countries and powers that harbour terrorist leaders and provide them with money, weapons and personnel to wreak harm on Egypt, the Egyptian people and the Arab nation.”
The general commander of the Armed Forces concluded: “We are pressing forward with the fullest faith in God and confidence in ourselves to build a better future under our wise and enlightened political leadership, protecting the nation and its people and safeguarding them from aggression in all its forms. We believe that Egypt can only be protected by a strong army and can only be built by the hands of the Egyptian people. We are all — the army, policy and the people — in the same trench. We are united in the same goal, which is for Egypt to be at the vanguard of developed nations. We can achieve this goal by rallying around Egypt's flag and its leadership, persisting with work and dedication for the sake of the present and future, so that Egypt will remain invincible for all eternity.”
HIGH-LEVEL ARAB ATTENDANCE: The ceremonies were attended by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, former general commander and former chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, interim president Adli Mansour, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Emirati Armed Forces Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Governor of Mecca and advisor to King Salman Prince Khaled bin Faisal Al-Saud, Commander-General of the Libyan Armed Forces Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Mohamed Khaled bin Hamad Al-Sabah and the Chief-of-Staff of the Mauritanian army Major General Mohamed Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed.

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