Chair of the NATO Military Committee visits Egypt
From 23 to 25 September 2023, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, visited Egypt upon the invitation of General Mohamed Zaki, Commander-In-Chief Of The Armed Forces, Minister Of Defense And Military Production. In Cairo, Admiral Bauer met with senior political and military authorities and delivered a lecture at the Nasser Higher Military Academy. Building on almost three decades of cooperation through the Mediterranean Dialogue, the visit provided an important opportunity to look in depth at the military cooperation between NATO and Egypt.
The visit began in Nasr City, Cairo at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier. Admiral Bauer paid a tribute to the men and women in uniform who put service before self to contribute to the peace and prosperity of their nation.
Admiral Bauer was then welcomed by General Mohamed Zaki as well as the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Osama Askar, with whom he discussed future opportunities to deepen NATO and Egypt’s military cooperation. Egypt has been engaging with NATO through the Mediterranean Dialogue since 1995. Cooperation efforts have since then focused on areas of mutual interest, including maritime and cyber security. “With adversaries increasingly challenging global commons and access to cyberspace, this cooperation allows us to raise our awareness and strengthen our defences by sharing experiences and expertise”. Together with Counter IED, demining projects and cyber security, information sharing is expected to be bolstered in the new Individually Tailored Partnership Plan (ITPP) for Egypt that is currently under development. Egypt’s expertise in the security developments in the Middle East and North Africa has proven key to foster Allies’ comprehensive understanding of the region.
Another of Egypt’s key expertise is that of anti-radicalisation and counter terrorism efforts. Admiral Bauer discussed this during his meeting with senior Ministry of Defence officials. The meeting also covered Egypt’s border security challenges and the impact of climate change on the country. Discussing the volatile security situation in the Sahel and North Africa more broadly, Admiral Bauer noted how terrorism threatens the security of populations, forces and territory. “We need to continue to counter, deter, defend and respond to threats and challenges posed by terrorist groups”, said the Admiral.
As part of the official visit, Admiral Bauer was briefed at the Counter-Terrorism Centre for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD). This centre is tasked to combat terrorism, organised crime and unorganised immigration.
Allies’ cooperation with Egypt in the area of counter terrorism is long-standing, including through the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme. Egypt’s expertise has made the country a co-chair of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum alongside the European Union.
During his meeting with Major General Ashraf Mohamed Fares, Commandant of the Nasser Higher Military Academy, the importance of partnerships was reiterated. The two senior military officials had the chance to discuss the importance of NATO-Egypt cooperation, including in the areas of training and education, leveraging shared common values and vision against an increasingly fragile security situation in the Middle East and North Africa. “We all share an interest in upholding the rules-based international order, where conflicts are resolved in the courtroom instead of the battlefield, and the rule of law applies to all,” said the Admiral before delivering a speech to course participants and assembled senior officers and faculty members. Admiral Bauer’s remarks also illustrated NATO’s biggest defence posture overhaul since the Cold War. Outlining NATO’s challenges and 360 approach, he reiterated the important contributions Partners bring to the Alliance. “Your regional expertise provides significant contributions to our situational awareness, operations, missions, and activities” said the Chair in a closing message.
In January 2011, Egypt’s Cairo International Centre for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding joined the NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Centre network – the first such affiliation by a Mediterranean Dialogue country.
While the Chair of the Military Committee conducted his visit in Cairo, units from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian conducted a port visit in Alexandria. The OSG flagship HS Navarinon (Greece), ITS Margottini (Italy), ROS Regina Maria (Romania) will conduct an exercise with the Egyptian Navy. The goal is to improve interoperability and share best practices with Egyptian Navy personnel. A boarding team from the Georgian Coast Guard has embarked on the Greek flagship HS NAVARINON. This is the first time Georgia has served with MARCOM on operations as a recognised Operational Partner.
In addition, the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre is visiting Alexandria during the same period. It will conduct a maritime security workshop, for discussion and exchange of ideas. Earlier this year, Egypt hosted a field study of the NATO Defence College as well as a NATO military delegation.