U.S. Pulls Out of Egypt’s Bright Star War Game

Cairo's brutality highlights U.S. fecklessness despite billions in military aid

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Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

A U.S. Air Force C-17 arrives for the Bright Star military exercise in Egypt in 2009.

President Obama on Thursday cancelled the U.S. military’s participation in next month’s Operation Bright Star in Egypt – a biennial training exercise with the Egyptian military – following Cairo’s brutal crackdown on opponents that left more than 500 dead the day before.

“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” Obama said in a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing. “As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month.”

Following the slaughter of hundreds of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi this week in cities across Egypt — by the same Egyptian military led by Army General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that overthrew him in a coup – the President had little choice.

“We don’t discuss any of the specifics of the strategies and the exercises that we have ongoing,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said July 31, when asked about the status of the next Bright Star exercise, which had been slated for mid-September. “We’re planning on going ahead with it.”

But that was before this week’s bloodshed.

Continuing the charade – that the U.S. needs to continue to cooperate with Egypt to improve things there – would have been bizarre.

“This exercise is an important part of U. S. Central Command’s theater engagement strategy,” the Pentagon routine says when discussing Bright Star’s importance. It “is designed to improve readiness and interoperability and strengthen the military and professional relationships among U.S., Egyptian and participating forces.”

But the U.S. currently has no clout among Cairo’s power brokers – the generals it has sought to woo for years — and pretending that it does by going ahead with Bright Star would only highlight American impotence.

The notion that such military cooperation can give the U.S. influence over a foreign military is dubious. The emperor, you might say, has no uniform — despite the $1.3 billion in military aid the U.S. gives to Egypt annually, a bounty for signing the Camp David accords with Israel in 1978.

Bright Star, also stemming from the peace pact, began in 1981, and generally has been held every two years. Thousands of U.S. and Egyptian troops, along with soldiers from several other nations, participate in war games and training exercises in locations around Egypt.

To assay its worth, it’s instructive to compare U.S. aid to Pakistan, which was cut off in the 1990s after Islamabad was caught developing nuclear weapons. U.S. military officials decried the lack of Pakistani officers in U.S. military schools, and said things would get better once aid, arms sales and military-to-military relations resumed.

They eventually began anew, but not much has changed. Pakistan remains perhaps the key stumbling block to U.S. success in next-door Afghanistan, not to mention serving as Osama bin Laden’s home for the last five years of his life.

The U.S. cancelled Bright Star in 2003 because of the demands of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama concluded it was also right to scrap it again, amid the war in Egypt.

25 comments
JasonVincent
JasonVincent

Seems to me that Bright Star would give us some first hand intel on what's going on there.  Obama probably never thought of that and he's surrounded himself with so many dolts that there is no one around to keep him squared away.

ChanAunLen
ChanAunLen

there are many people were killed in Egypt. I believe that the Egypt citizen completely doesn't need the war, the protest but how can they live under the communist power. they need peace, freedom as the real democracy country all around the world. why don't the leader be able to provide  them this? Talking about this it's similar to my country situation right now. it's Cambodia. after national election, it's worse than before. the prime Minister order to spread the army, police every where in order to threat the Cambodian from protest because the opposite leaser Mr. Sam Rainsy will claim for true voting result not the fake one that provide by NEC.  Cambodian want Hun Sen to go away, it's time for him because it's enough for him to destroyed Cambodia. we really need you, Mr. Obama, we need you to take action in Cambodia. we don't want to become Egypt's situation.


MohamedHossam
MohamedHossam

There was another choice: To stay away of Egypt's internal affairs, like Russia or China did. It's your administration's fault supporting Muslim Brotherhood (MB) terrorism from the start. Your administration didn't lift a finger when he declared himself a pharaoh, when he threatened his oppositions, and when the MB militias killed and tortured demonstrators just under his nose few meters away from the presidential palace. Mohamed Morsi is an escaped convict accused of spying to Hammas, and you want him back because you made a dirty deal with him?

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Operation  Bright Star is a shrewd strategy of Obama to train the Islamist Egyptian army in defensive and offensive operations while feigning friendship with Israel. We can tolerate if the Islamists are given training in defensive operation, but the training in offensive operation is a wicked attempt to train the Islmists to attack Israel and the West in a future war. In the same manner the supply of jet fighters to Islamist Egypt is a sinister strategy to make Egypt strong in air power to face a future war against Israel or any western country. These acts of Obama are quite sufficientto impeach him, if any such eventuakity occurs in the coming months.

MuhammadHassan
MuhammadHassan

I am Egyptian, and i would proudly say we don't ever need those money anyway , you better keep it for other investments and help your country to pay the Chinese Dept you owe to them and leave us alone, we are the only country that have no historic wars aganist any country despite our invincible Soliders Faith and strenght we only take these weapons to defend our soil aganist Any. 

grape_crush
grape_crush

Welcome (back) to Swampland, Mark. Hoping you can at least make it a little more interesting around here than it has been. August in a non-election year is dead, dead, dead...even if there's actually plenty to be writing about.

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

$1.3 billion is a scandal. What justification is there for sending so much of our taxpayers' dollars to Egypt?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@menna-zein So you liked when Bush was invading countries in your backyard and creating problems for everyone.

MohamedT.ElGendi
MohamedT.ElGendi

@ZacPetit Trust me, I'm an Egyptian, we don't want the money, it was given to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's regime, everyone hates them now, except for extremists.

The money just damaged us.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ZacPetit Its a bribe to keep them on good terms with Israel and help crackdown on extremists and weapons smugglers in the Sinai peninsula.

nalexf25
nalexf25

@mantisdragon91 @menna-zein Who knows what he thought about Bush, but one thing I know is that Bush hasnt been president for years now and you have to realize Obama is a garbage president. The end.

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

@mantisdragon91 @ZacPetit For what? Israel provides nothing but instability in the Middle East... they don't provide us with any meaningful return on our investment. We are no longer completely dependent on the Middle East for oil... why not take all of the money we throw away out there and invest into becoming more energy independent? Or invest it in... literally anything else.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@nalexf25

1) How the heck is it his fault that someone else decided to award him the Nobel peace prize?

2) How do you grow the public sector exponentially when, during Obama's tenure, the number of federal employees has decreased?  (Also, there's the not to ignore point that technically, anything that moves with inflation is technically under exponential growth)

nalexf25
nalexf25

@mantisdragon91 @nalexf25 @menna-zein Well their is literally thousands of reasons why he's a garbage president, ranging anywhere from the joke which is Obamacare, worsening the countries economic condition, growing the public sector exponentially, playing the race card at every occasion, ignoring the constitution, winning a Nobel peace prize for no reason and then bombing Children in 6 different countries, and I could go on. But another great reason of why he's a garbage president is supporting this Sharia loving, Jew and Christian hating Muslim Brotherhood government.

nalexf25
nalexf25

@forgottenlord @ZacPetit its ironic that Muslim countries have been at each others throats for centuries, yet somehow their is still people who are ignorant to the point of blaming Israel for the instability in the middle-east.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@ZacPetit @mantisdragon91 The political wheels behind the payments will grind slowly onward.  Ironically it might be in the Egyptian military's best interest to pick a fight with Israel at this point.  Nothing like nationalism and a common enemy to fill in social cracks... at least for a time.  Since nobody seems to be considering the long term over there then whatever aid is pulled or sanctions started won't make it into the political calculations... I'm figuring.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@ZacPetit

Well....that a whole different discussion which seems to lack any relationship to logic or reason.

Basically, it's a domestic political necessity because the people in Washington and pundits everywhere are idiots when it comes to Israel.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

That is a much bigger political discussion and points to the influence that the Pro-Israel lobby have over our political process. I merely answered the question of why this payment has been happening for the last 30 years.