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Ministry of Defense

According to Articles 180 to 183 the Constitution of 1971, the armed forces "shall belong to the people" and are required "to defend the country, to safeguard its territory and security, and to protect the socialist gains of the people's struggle." The Constitution allows only the government to have armed forces; it forbids organizations or groups from establishing a military or paramilitary force. The Constitution also refers to the defense of the homeland as a "sacred duty" and mandates compulsory conscription.

The Constitution designates the president of the republic as supreme commander of the armed forces and empowers the president to declare war or a state of emergency as long as the People's Assembly (Majlis Ash Shaab; formerly the National Assembly) concurs. The four presidents who have held the office since the 1952 Revolution Muhammad Naguib, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak--have all been military officers and have played decisive roles in matters affecting security and the armed forces. The Constitution establishes the National Defense Council as the president's principal advisory body for all matters relating to the country's security. The Constitution provides no rules for membership in the council, but it does designate the president as the council's chairman. In practice, however, the National Defense Council was rarely mentioned; the president and the minister of defense usually dealt informally with national security matters. On issues of broad significance, other members of the cabinet might also be present to offer their views.

The post of commander in chief of the armed forces had customarily been combined with the offices of minister of defense and minister of military production. The Ministry of Defense dealt with budgetary, administrative, industrial, and policy matters affecting the military. It also handled affairs related to reserve officers and veterans. The senior deputy to the commander in chief, the chief of staff of the armed forces, was responsible for current operations of the armed forces. The Military Operations Authority, headed by the army commander, served as a combined services coordinating and control center. The commanders of the navy, air force, the Air Defense Force, and the two field armies worked under the direction of the chief of staff. These lines of command, however, were not always strictly observed, especially under operational conditions.

The commander in chief of the armed forces held the rank of a full general, except in the case of Abu Ghazala, who was promoted to field marshal in recognition of his importance in the national security establishment. In 1990 the chief of staff of the armed forces and the commander in chief of the Air Defense Force were lieutenant generals. The naval and air force commanders held the ranks of vice admiral and air marshal, the air force equivalent of field marshal, respectively. The chief of the Military Operations Authority and the commanders of the two field armies were major generals. Decision-making within MOD rested almost solely with Minister of Defense Field Marshal Tantawi. In office since 1991, he consistently resists change to the level and direction of FMF funding and is therefore one of the chief impediments to transforming our security relationship. During his tenure, the tactical and operational readiness of the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) has degraded. But he retains President Mubarak's support, and so he and the top brass will most likely stay in position until Mubarak leaves the scene.

Paramilitary forces numbered about 440,000 as of 2002, including Border Guards (part of the Ministry of Defense), the People's Defense (basically rural para-military reserve militia, under the Ministry of Defense, equipped with small arms and light anti-personnel variant of RPG-7 rocket), the Central Security Forces (est. between 150,000 and 300,000, operating nationally as the principal domestic security force, and equipped with armored vehicles, mortars and other medium weapons; comes under the Ministry of Interior), and Coast Guard (a unit of the Navy).

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:38:44 ZULU