Egypt launched a large military exercise this week at its Mohamed Naguib Military Base. The drill includes 30 participating countries and will continue through September 14.
Egypt sees this as one of the most important military exercises in the region. It brings together key countries that are linked to Egypt, such as Saudi Arabia, and is also important for US forces and partners in the region. The drill takes place every two years and has gone on since 1980.
This is its 18th year and this year has increased importance because of the number of countries involved and Egypt’s increasing diplomatic and military influence in the region.
Israel not involved in Bright Star 2023
An emblem produced for this year's Bright Star 2023 shows flags from countries such as Greece, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, India, Tunisia, Morocco, Japan, Germany and others.
Reports from the drill did not mention Israel, even though Israel and Egypt have a peace treaty and Israel is increasingly connected to Abraham Accords countries it is still a sensitive issue to include Israel in regional military drills alongside countries that do not have relations with Jerusalem.
According to the US Embassy in Cairo, “the United States and Egyptian Armed Forces will jointly lead the BRIGHT STAR 23 military exercise being conducted along with over 30 participating nations at Mohamed Naguib Military Base in Egypt from August 31 to September 14.
"Bright Star 2023 builds on the decades-long strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt.”
With Egypt as the host country, the US is the other major partner in the drill. Some 1,500 US military personnel were deployed alongside the other thousands who are taking part. The US says there is a focus on regional security and “promoting interoperability in conventional and irregular warfare scenarios.
"Participating military service members will conduct field training exercises, a command post exercise focused on military decision-making processes, military academics, command and control operations, combined Joint Task Force planning, and a senior level leadership seminar.”
US Embassy in Cairo's Chargé d’Affaires Evyenia Sidereas praised the drill saying it strengthens the critical defense partnership between the United States and Egypt and highlights the importance of the continued cooperation between our two countries to improve stability in the Middle East.
“We appreciate Egypt’s leadership in this endeavor and the invitation to work as partners with the Egyptian Armed Forces during Bright Star 23,” he said.
CENTCOM head Michael Kurilla also praised the drill. “This year’s exercise demonstrates the strength of the U.S.-Egyptian military cooperation and deepens the interoperability of all the partnering Nations,” he said. The US statement noted that the US has contributed more than $50 billion in military assistance to Egypt since 1978.
The New Arab website noted that 18 countries sent forces to the drill and 15 are observing. There are at least 8,000 participating forces. Egyptian Maj.-Gen. Osama Naga praised the training as the “finest” in the region, the New Arab said.
Asharq al Awsat reported that the training “involves ground forces, infantry, armored vehicles, artillery units, navy, air force, and special operations forces.” The National in the UAE said that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, UK, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Cyprus, Greece, Morocco, Kenya, Italy, Spain, France, Tanzania, Nigeria, Tunisia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Australia, Algeria, Qatar, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Nigeria took part.
Some of these countries are key eastern Mediterranean partners for Egypt, such as Greece and Cyprus, as well as Italy. In addition, some are key Middle East partners such as Morocco and the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
There are also African partners such as Nigeria and Uganda. With recent instability in the Sahel, it is important to bring the African countries to Egypt for these trainings. Sudan’s military leader, who is fighting a civil war, was also recently in Egypt. Turkey was not at the training this year and Egypt and Turkey have had difficult ties since 2014, although they recently tried to reconcile.