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State Department notes "constructive" Egyptian Military
News reports from Cairo indicate
the Egyptian military is not taking sides in the demonstrations
and counter demonstrations taking place in the country.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. government
is in daily contact with defense and military leaders.
“I think that broadly speaking, the military has played
a very important and constructive role in being a stabilizing
force on the ground, particularly, … relative to what the
situation looked like, … prior to the weekend,” he
said during a news conference today. “Yesterday was a bad
day for Egypt.”
Crowley said there are indications the military is adjusting
its movements today in response to the rioting and fighting yesterday.
Still, “we are very impressed by the posture and the professionalism
displayed by the Egyptian military,” Crowley said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has spoken three times with
Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi since the demonstrations
started in Egypt.
“To date we have seen them act professionally and with
restraint,” said Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. David Lapan. “Again,
it’s a very fluid situation, so we are watching every single
The United States is reviewing military aid to Egypt, but has
not stopped sending aid, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
said yesterday. “We will evaluate the actions of the government
of Egypt in making and reviewing decisions about aid,” Gibbs
said during yesterday’s White House media briefing. “That
Lapan said military aid is episodic.
“It’s not like something is happening every day,” he
said. “It comes and goes over time, whether there is a
scheduled delivery that’s happening right now or in the
The State and Defense departments manage the foreign military
sales program. Systems have been approved and are scheduled for
delivery to Egypt this year, including include coastal patrol
craft, air combat maneuvering instrumentation, spare parts for
F-16 fighter jets, air defense missiles and fuses for certain
About 625 U.S. service members are based in Egypt, most of them
as part of the United Nations Multinational Force and Observers
in the Sinai. Their mission has not changed, Lapan said.
The colonel said the department is conducting prudent planning
if called upon to execute a noncombatant evacuation order.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that we’re
actively planning and on the verge of something,” he said. “As
the situation develops, we’re always looking from a military
standpoint at what’s happening, and what we might do should
we be called upon.”
He stressed there the State Department has not requested any
type of evacuation assistance from the Pentagon.
For more than 30 years, Egyptian officers and noncommissioned
officers have trained and attended professional military education
alongside American officers and NCOs. Foreign military service
members training alongside U.S. personnel learn leadership and
military skills, “but it’s really about being a professional
military force,” Lapan said.
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