Egypt - Military Personnel
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.
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.
Only 150,000 of the more than 600,000 reserves receive any meaningful training. The military authorities did not give strong emphasis to maintaining reserve forces. Foreign military observers believed that the reserves would be of minimal value in the event of an emergency. An estimated 335,000 men were in the reserves in the early 1980s (300,000 army and ADF, 15,000 navy, and 20,000 air force). The total was expected to decline to about 200,000 by the early 1990s.
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.
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.
Although it was no longer possible for a prospective conscript to pay a fee in lieu of service, he could still apply for an exemption. Men employed in permanent government positions, sons whose brothers had died in service, men employed in essential industries, and family breadwinners were all eligible for exemptions.
Men who have not completed compulsory military service may not travel abroad or emigrate. National identification cards indicated completion of military service. Married Bahais and their children faced difficulties obtaining national identification cards because the government did not recognize Bahai marriages as legitimate. Some Bahai men of draft age were unable to establish they either had fulfilled or were exempt from military service and, therefore, were unable to obtain passports. Police officials reportedly forced unmarried young women, sometimes including those in their 30s, to present their father’s written permission to obtain a passport and to travel abroad, although the law does not require such permission.
Army recruits followed a basic training program that included, when necessary, some remedial literacy training. After specialized training, recruits participated in the annual cycle of training that commenced at the small unit level and culminated in army-wide exercises. Individuals who volunteered to continue in service as NCOs attended a command school followed by specialized training and eventually became eligible for enrollment in an advanced career school for senior NCOs. Recruits in the navy and air force followed a similar program of basic training followed by specialized training. The navy, however, required shipboard service before specialization.
Five academies trained cadets (midshipmen) for commissioning as regular officers. The academies included the Military Academy, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Military Technical Academy, and the Air Defense Academy. The oldest of these, the Military Academy, was located in Cairo, having been founded after Egyptian independence in 1922, when British influence in the military was still strong. In 1936 the Military Academy extended eligibility for admission to young men of lower-middle-class and peasant families. Graduates of the academy after the change in admissions policy went into effect included Nasser, Sadat, and seven others of the group known as the Free Officers who later led the 1952 military coup that toppled Egypt's monarchy.
Candidates applying for admission to the Military Academy were required to have a general secondary school certificate showing above-average grades. The academy based admissions decisions on the results of a competitive academic examination, a stringent physical examination, and a physical fitness test. Sons of military and police personnel and sons and brothers of men killed in action automatically received extra points in the scoring process. The Military Academy's curriculum included comprehensive undergraduate training and specific training in combat arms. Graduates of the three-year program were commissioned as second lieutenants. Newly commissioned army officers received branch training at schools operated by the infantry, artillery, armor, and several other branches.
The Naval Academy, located at the Ras at Tin naval base, offered an academic course comparable to the one offered by the Military Academy. The program at the Naval Academy, however, also included shipboard training during cruises that lasted from one to three months. On graduation, midshipmen were commissioned as ensigns. Engineers, communications specialists, and other technicians also graduated from the Naval Academy after following separate curricula. The Air Force Academy, about sixty kilometers northeast of Cairo at Bilbays, had a curriculum of theoretical, technical, and scientific subjects plus up to 200 hours of flying instruction. In 1988 the Air Force Academy reduced the period of study from four to three years. The academy also eased the requirement of a superior secondary school academic record to emphasize student's aptitude for flying through a series of tests. On successful completion of flight training and the academic program, graduates were commissioned as pilots or navigators; those who did not qualify were given administrative assignments in the air force or, in some cases, were transferred to another service.
The Military Technical Academy (also known as the Armed Forces Technical College), was located at Heliopolis. It educated technical officers for all armed forces and therefore reduced the need for foreign technical advisers. The Military Technical Academy's admissions office had more stringent entrance requirements than the Military Academy; applicants had to have a superior academic record in secondary-school science courses. Applicants to the Military Technical Academy also faced more difficult qualifying examinations in science and mathematics. Because of their intensive curriculum, graduates were commissioned as first lieutenants. Selected civilians who made a commitment to government service could also enroll in the Military Technical Academy. Under Abu Ghazala, the Military Technical Academy was upgraded by the grant of scarce resources for research in spite of retrenchment at civilian research facilities. The Academy of Military Medicine trained health workers and medical professionals. In 1986 the People's Assembly passed legislation calling for the development of a new Military Academy for Administrative Sciences. The Air Defense Academy, which opened in Alexandria in 1974, required five years of study leading to a bachelor's degree in engineering. Additional training followed on individual air defense systems.
The Command and General Staff College was founded in Cairo in 1939 as the Army Staff College, a name still frequently used. The school provided training in staff duties and command responsibilities for selected officers, usually majors and junior lieutenant colonels. The college provided intensive study of tactics, logistics, operations planning, and administration. The duration of the academic program was about eighteen months. Graduates received masters' degrees in military science and were considered qualified for assignment to staff positions at the division level and higher or to command a battalion or brigade. Completion of the staff college or an appropriate educational equivalent was a prerequisite for acceptance to senior military colleges.
Named in honor of Egypt's president at the time, the Nasser High Military Academy was founded in 1965. It was dedicated to the advanced education of senior officers of the armed forces and selected civilian government officials. It encompassed both the Higher War College and the National Defense College and was the summit of the officer education system. Studies at the Higher War College lasted for one year and emphasized familiarity with Egypt's military, economic, and international situation. This institution, which prepared students to participate in the formulation of Egypt's foreign and defense policies, awarded its graduates doctoral degrees in military sciences and national strategy. Foreigners were not permitted to enroll, but special courses were held for officers of friendly countries, such as Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia. In addition, beginning in 1980 the college held a number of symposia on African strategic issues and invited participants from most of the African countries.
The National Defense College admitted qualified applicants who were either senior officers or ranking civilians from state and public-sector institutions. The college gave preference to persons with a master's degree. The academic program, which lasted eleven months, emphasized national strategic planning and mobilization problems to develop a civilian's capabilities to hold a leadership position in state agencies.
Egypt started sending selected officers abroad for advanced training as early as the 1930s. Between the mid-1940s and mid1950s , hundreds of Egyptian officers attended schools in Britain, France, and the United States. When the Soviet Union became the chief supplier of Egypt's arms and equipment, it became the focal point of foreign military training. After Egypt severed relations with Britain and the United States in 1967, training abroad was conducted almost exclusively in the Soviet Union, although a few officers continued to attend French schools. Although some officers believed that the standard of instruction in Soviet institutions was seriously deficient, nearly all Egyptian officers below the rank of major general at the time of the October 1973 War had attended staff schools or received specialized training in the Soviet Union. Since the 1970s, Egypt sent almost all of its advanced military students to institutions in Western countries.
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