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Order of Battle

Until the late 1970s, the Egyptian army comprised 10 divisions, half of them mechanized or armored. The army had an estimated strength of 320,000 in 1989. About 180,000 of these were conscripts. Before the June 1967 War, the army divided its personnel into four regional commands. After the 1967 debacle, the army was reorganized into two field armies--the Second Army and the Third Army, both of which were stationed in the eastern part of the country. 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. Commandos and paratroop units were stationed near Cairo under central control but could be transferred quickly to one of the field armies if needed. District commanders, who generally held the rank of major general, maintained liaisons with governors and other civil authorities on matters of domestic security.

The army's principal tactical formations in 1988 were believed to include four armored divisions (each with two armored brigades and one mechanized brigade); six mechanized infantry divisions (each with two mechanized brigades and one armored brigade); and two infantry divisions (each with two infantry brigades and one mechanized brigade). Independent brigades included four infantry brigades, three mechanized brigades, one armored brigade, two air mobile brigades, one paratroop brigade, and the Republican Guard armored brigade. These brigades were augmented by two heavy mortar brigades, fourteen artillery brigades, two surface-to-surface missile (SSM) regiments, and six commando groups [each consisting of about 1,000 men], which increased to eight by 2010.

As of 1989, an estimated five of the twelve divisions and portions of other units had made the transition to American equipment and order of battle. By the late 1990s the army had 12 divisions, all but one either mechanized or armored, and at that time planned to field a completely mechanized army by 2005. The Egyptian army was a modern mechanized military that can move with speed and firepower equal to that of most modern armies.

Although disposition of the forces was secret, foreign military observers estimated in the late 1980s that five Egyptian divisions were in camps west of the Suez Canal while half a division was in Sinai. The Second Army was responsible for the area from the Mediterranean Sea to a point south of Ismailia; the Third Army was responsible from that point southward to the Red Sea. The government deployed the armies in this way partly because of a desire to protect the canal and the capital from a potential Israeli invasion and partly because the housing facilities and installations for the two armies had long been located in these areas. The commander of the Western District controlled armored forces supplemented by commando, artillery, and air defense units (possibly totaling the equivalent of a reinforced division) that were stationed at coastal towns in the west and in the Western Desert (also known as the Libyan Desert) facing Libya.

The London-based Sunday Times newspaper said on 12 August 2001, that Egypt was considering sending its Third Army into the demilitarized Sinai Peninsula. The newspaper, quoting a senior Egyptian security source, said that the Egyptian Government would send in the army if Israel moved into Palestinian territories. President Mubarak had come under increasing pressure to help the Palestinians, the paper said. A Third Army exercise took place east of Cairo in September 2001. Israeli security sources said the prospect of an Egyptian military intervention is being considered. They told the Times that an Egyptian invasion of the Sinai would be regarded as a violation of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. In early September 2001, Egypt's Third Field Army held a major exercise near the Suez Canal. The exercise was meant to train the military to repel any attack from Israel.

The Frontier Corps, a lightly armed paramilitary unit of about 12,000 men, mostly beduins, was responsible for border surveillance, general peacekeeping, drug interdiction, and prevention of smuggling. In the late 1980s, the army equipped this force with remote sensors, night-vision binoculars, communications vehicles, and high-speed motorboats.

Units - 1990

  • HQ, Operations Authority: Cairo
  • HQ, Second Field Army: Ismaelia
  • HQ, Third Field Army: Suez
  • HQ, Western Military Region: Sidi Buraimi
  • HQ. Central Military Region: Cairo
  • HQ, Northern Military Region: Alexandria
  • HQ, Southern Military Region: Assiut
  • 4 armored divisions (each consisting of 2 armored brigade and 1 mechanized brigade, and 1 artillery brigade).
  • 8 mechanized infantry divisions (each consisting of 1 armored brigade, 2 mechanized brigades, and 1 artillery brigade).
  • 1 Republican Guard Armored Brigade.
  • 4 independent armored brigades.
  • 2 independent infantry brigades.
  • 1 airmobile brigades.
  • 1 airborne brigade.
  • 6 commando groups.
  • 15 independent artillery brigades.
  • 2 heavy mortar brigades.
  • 6 ATGW brigades.
  • 2 SSM brigades

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Page last modified: 10-01-2012 19:29:28 ZULU