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TAMPA, Fla. – General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, visited with Egyptian Minister of Defense General Mohamed Zaki, and Lieutenant-General Osama Askar, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces this week in Cairo.
The leaders discussed mutual security concerns, to include methods to improve border security, opportunities to enhance partnered training for counterterror operations, and opportunities to strengthen the U.S.-Egypt military partnership.
On Bright Star exercise:
Generals Kurilla, Zaki, and Askar also discussed the size and scope of Bright Star 23. The biannual multinational Bright Star exercise in Egypt, which began in1980, is a critical training event for U.S. and Egyptian forces. The next iteration is in August of 2023, with planning sessions beginning in October of 2022.
“I greatly value Egypt’s leadership role in the region,” said Kurilla. “Egypt has long served a critical role in stability across the region and CENTCOM is committed to this strategic partnership.”
Kurilla lauded Egypt’s role in deescalating the most recent conflicts between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas in the past. He also congratulated them on their upcoming command in November of Task Force 153, a partnered maritime force charged with security of the Red Sea. Kurilla also pledged to work with elements of the U.S. Government to expedite the bureaucratic and cumbersome Foreign Military Sales process with partners in the Middle East.
“Trusting partnerships allow for candid, tough conversations,” Kurilla continued. “That is the kind of relationship we have with Egypt. We don’t agree on every subject, and we don’t have to, but we have candid discussions about every subject. We work through challenges to strengthen this enduring strategic relationship.”
The U.S. and Egypt have had decades of military-to-military collaboration. For thirty years, the U.S. has helped Egypt train and equip a large, modern, and powerful military that contributes to both Egyptian security and regional stability.
“Egypt played a critical role fighting terrorism with United States since 9/11,” said Kurilla. “The American military partnership with Egypt reaps a rich harvest for both our countries and for the region. It will continue to do so into the future.”
Suez Canal Visit:
Kurilla also visited Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman and Managing Director of the Suez Canal Authority, and Major-General Mohamed Rabie, commander of 2nd Field Army, in the Suez. The three leaders discussed maritime security along the canal.
Approximately 12 percent of global commerce and 30 precent of global container traffic traverses through the Suez Canal, making it among the world’s most important choke points. Over 22,000 ships transited the canal in 2021.
“This canal, and the broader Middle East, is critical to global commerce and energy, so we must ensure its security,” said Kurilla.