Notes on Compulsory Army Service in Egypt

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Many countries have some form of compulsory Army service for a certain period, including Netherlands, Israel, Turkey, Egypt and others. In Egypt, service in the army was compulsory for most of the 20th century. It is restricted to males 18 years to 35 years who do have another male brother, and is physically and mentally fit. Those who study can have a temporary reprieve until they finish their study, to a maximum of 24 or so. The duration of the service varies from 1 year (plus 3 months training) for university graduates, to 3 years for those with only elementary education. Before 1952, service could be avoided if one paid a large sum of money to the government. After 1952, and in the name of equality, this practice was abolished, and every eligible person had to serve. On the face of it, service in the army makes a young youth ready for combat if need be, teaches him to be adaptable, resourceful and tough. Reality is much different though. The army in Egypt, just like many other countries, is the culmination of bureaucracy, favoritism, nepotism, cronyism, corruption. All of these are rampant in the government, but more so in the army.The reasons for this are plenty. Those who serve in the army are two types: the recruits forced to serve before they can hold a job, or  travel abroad, and career staff. The career staff are two classes, the higher rank army officers (Second Lieutenant to General), and the lower rank (Private, Sargeant, ...etc.). The officers are either from a technical background (medicine, engineering, ...etc.) graduating from normal technical colleges, or of military disciplines, graduating from specialized military academies. Most join the army because it is a guaranteed government job that pays a relatively good salary and pension, and comes with many perks, such as use of army clubs, percieved social status, ...etc.. The lower rank officers are mostly people from lower social levels who have no education and join the Army because it is the only hope they have for a paying job. This is true in most armies of the world, including Canada, UK, USA and others. These lower rank officers can later go up to the first few ranks of officers, but are often derogatorily called ضابط مخلة (Dufflebag Officer), because they joined the armies as private rank soldiers.Many of the permanent  staff, specially the lower rank ones, disdain the temporary recruits, envying them for having education and better job prospects. They therefore use all the tricks to make their life miserable for the duration they are in the army. Some get the sick feeling of pleasure from the misery of others. Some feel satisfaction from being able to humilate a medical doctor or an engineer. Most of this is allowed in the name of teaching discipline and absolute obedience. Others use their position and influence as a secondary source of income. For example, they would agree to give recruits extra vacation days in return for a bribe. Some of these recruits, most likely farmers with no education at all, need the vacations because they have married early and have a family to support, so they need the vacation to work.Those lucky recruits with connections can practically spend the whole duration at home, with all the paper work arranged to make them look like they have been "sent on a mission" or "on loan" to some other unit. This is reminiscent of George W Bush national guard service during the Vietnam War era, but on a larger scale.Those with no connections, and no money for bribes can only watch how cruel real life is  ... So, the army is mostly a demoralizing experience for those forced to do the compulsory service. Some reverse wisdom can be seen in proverbs and saying that are famous in the army such as:

  • "Injustice to all is justice!" الظلم لما يعم يبقى عدل This is told by officers when recruits complain of some situation. The response is to apply injustice to everyone, then it becomes justice. Of course, not even this twisted logic is true, given the bribes and favoritism that are widely practiced.
  • "In the army, you have to find a way"الجيش قال لك اتصرف. This used to mean resourcefulness, and making do with what you have. However it gradually evolved into "the ends justify the means", such as bribes.
  • "Talk only about yourself" اتكلم عن نفسك بس. A rebellion in the army is a big disaster to the chain of command. A mutiny used to be punishable by death (e.g. Fletcher Christian and the Mutiny on the Bounty). Hence, the army always do not want any kind of groups forming under any circumstances.

Of course, the Egyptian army is up to the challenge in the battlefield, no doubts about that. However, the compulsory draft system is absolutely useless, and is a remnant from another age.

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Comments

Training

In the old days, training was 3 months. I don't know if it has changed or what. It may be 2 weeks, it may be 45 days. I can't say for sure.

As for a break after training, it may be a weekend (not a week!), or nothing at all.

He has never asked me for

He has never asked me for money. He once complained about an extra bill he got. And I offered to pay it. He said no, because a man doesn’t let a woman pay. That would be embarrassing. And he got a little bit upset by it. He always pays. So there has never been anything with money. And there has never been a day where we are not contact. Always texting and calling. All through the day. So in that way I’m not nervous about he be a scammer. But of course what u have said, is on my mind now. I will look out for the signs. Thank u!
I read an old comment, were a girl wrote, that training campwas for 45 days. But my husband says 2 weeks. Can that rule been changed? Since he says 2 weeks. Or is he lying?
But to got back to the original question 😊 So u say that sometimes they get a week off after training. And sometimes directly to the military?

When does it usually start

Hey thank you for replying so fast. No he's not a scam I've been with him for 2 years we met when he studied in US too but he had to leave for his military
One last question does it usually start in January? Or it could be any months?

Not sure

I am not sure what the rules are now.

It used to be that training, for those who finished university, started in October, and was done by December (3 months). Then the year of service started January through December of the following year, and there were other times of the year for those who did not attend university, ...etc.

All this may have been changed in recent years.

So his medical examination is

So his medical examination is in January..so does that mean he will start right away or he has to wait for couple of weeks?
Also do you know is there any rule laws kind of thing that written in English

No public rules

There are no rules published publicly, whether in Arabic or English. It is just how these things are over there.

Why don't you ask your boyfriend these questions directly?

Does he not know, or you are not sure if he is telling the truth?

If it is the latter, then please read again about these romance scams. 'Going to the army' is a common excuse that these fraudsters make.

Training camp

Hey. My husband is soon going to the military. But before that, he is going to a training camp for 2 weeks. How long after that training camp, will he be going to the military? Help please 🙏🏼

A year

If he was admitted into the army as a private (not an officer), the total service is usually a year if he has a university degree. If he does not have one, then it could be 3 years.

If he was taken in as an officer, then the total is 3 years.

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