Its last major engagement was Operation Desert Storm , the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in , in which the Egyptian army constituted the second-largest contingent of the allied forces. As of , the army has an estimated strength of , soldiers, of which, approximately 90,—, are professionals with the rest being conscripts. For most parts of its long history, ancient Egypt was unified under one government. The main military concern for the nation was to keep enemies out. The arid plains and deserts surrounding Egypt were inhabited by nomadic tribes who occasionally tried to raid or settle in the fertile Nile river valley.
Nevertheless, the great expanses of the desert formed a barrier that protected the river valley and was almost impossible for massive armies to cross. The Egyptians built fortresses and outposts along the borders east and west of the Nile Delta, in the Eastern Desert, and in Nubia to the south. Small garrisons could prevent minor incursions, but if a large force was detected a message was sent for the main army corps. Most Egyptian cities lacked city walls and other defenses.
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The history of ancient Egypt is divided into three kingdoms and two intermediate periods. During the three kingdoms Egypt was unified under one government. During the intermediate periods the periods of time between kingdoms government control was in the hands of the various nomes provinces within Egypt and various foreigners. The geography of Egypt served to isolate the country and allowed it to thrive.
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This circumstance set the stage for many of Egypt's military conquests. They weakened their enemies by using small projectile weapons, like bows and arrows. They also had chariots which they used to charge at the enemy. Following his seizure of power in Egypt, and declaration of himself as khedive of the country, Muhammad Ali Pasha set about establishing a bona fide Egyptian military. Prior to his rule, Egypt had been governed by the Ottoman Empire , and while he still technically owed fealty to the Ottoman Porte , Muhammad Ali sought to gain full independence for Egypt.
To further this aim, he brought in European weapons and expertise, and built an army that defeated the Ottoman Sultan , wresting control from the Porte of the Levant , and Hejaz.
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In addition, he utilised his army to conquer Sudan , and unite it with Egypt. Egypt was involved in the long-running —99 Mahdist War in the Sudan. In the Egyptian Army was a largely native home-defence force. It comprised 17 battalions of infantry 8 Sudanese and 9 Egyptian , 3 companies of mounted infantry, a Camel Corps, support services and various local militia groups. It was organised, expanded and equipped by the British during the prewar years, and led by British officers. Although a few field artillery units participated voluntarily in the defence of the Suez Canal in early , the Egyptian Army was primarily employed to maintain order in the troubled Sudan.
During Muhammad Ali Pasha 's reign, the Egyptian army became a much more strictly regimented and professional army. The recruits were separated from daily civilian life and a sense of the impersonal of law was imposed. Muhammad Ali Pasha previously attempted to create an army of Sudanese slaves and Mamluks , but most died under the intense military training and practices of the Pasha.
Instead, the Pasha enforced conscription in and the new military recruits were mostly Egyptian farmers, also known as fellah. Because of harsh military practices, the , soldiers conscripted in revolted in the south in The Pasha's goal was to create military order through indoctrination by two new major key practices: isolation and surveillance.
In previous times, the wives and family were allowed to follow the army wherever they camped. This was no longer the case. The Pasha sought to create a whole new life for the soldier distinct from that of civilian life. In order to be completely indoctrinated and adapted to the military, they needed to be stripped of their daily lives, habits, and practices.
Inside these barracks, soldiers were also subjected to new practices. The rules and regulations were not made to inflict punishment on the recruits but rather to impose a sense of respect for the law; the threat of punishment was enough to keep them in line and from deserting. The roll-call was taken twice a day and those found missing would be declared deserters and would have to face the punishment for their actions.
The trivial tasks that filled the soldiers live was an attempt to keep the men constantly engaged in useful tasks and not thinking about leaving. There were also many other reasons why the Pasha enforced this strict isolation. Previously, soldiers would ransack towns and cause mayhem wherever they went.
Military disobedience was so frequent that the Bedouins were employed to keep the soldiers in check. Unfortunately this backfired when the Bedouins also indulged in the same destructive behavior. Thus, with the new isolation practices, there was more peace in civilian life. Isolation also allowed for more intense surveillance. The idea was to promote order through initial obedience rather than through punishment.
Though this idea seems humane in nature, the change in mindset went from trust to mistrust and the consequences of disobedience were often fatal. Complete subservience was the Pasha's ultimate goal. An example of this extreme surveillance was the Tezkere.
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The Tezkere was a certificate with a military official's stamp of approval that allowed the soldier to leave the camp premises. The certificate specified the soldier's reason for and specific details of his absence. The soldier would be invoked to show his certificate when he traveled to prove the legitimacy of his excursion. Even outside the camp surveillance, the soldier is still closely watched.
The Pasha himself also served as a form of surveillance. The law and its strict implementation thereof gave the impression of the Pasha's constant presence. The Pasha highly regarded law and fabricated in his society a strong link between crime and punishment. If a soldier committed crime, its discovery was assumed to be definite along with the punishment thereof.
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For example, a deserter would receive 15 days imprisonment and lashes for his crime. The harsh punishment, coupled with the fact that roll was called three times daily, dispelled any thought of desertion on the part of the soldier. The previous conception of punishment changed from vengeance to certainty.
By far the biggest military reform in this period was crafting the military mindset into one of absolute obedience to prevent any want of dissent. As the soldiers left their old lives for their new military life, they learned their new place in society through their own unique law code and practice.
The transition from corporal punishment as the official policy for punishment to imprisonment is important to the modernization of Egypt's army. Shipping to: Worldwide. No additional import charges at delivery! This item will be shipped through the Global Shipping Program and includes international tracking. Learn more - opens in a new window or tab.
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Chariots of the Desert: The Story of the Israeli Armoured Corps
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