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.



about your husband

Hi , i married a man from egypt in 2007 too ,and he is gonna go military soon now too:( life is so hard being married to someone out there cuz of there laws ,i feel for u and also my self:( its been along wait for me to be with my husband :( if u have yahoo account add me to it plz i would love to talk to u on yahoo messenger:) jessica

hi jess please help me what

hi jess please help me what do i do i love my man so much we have spent so much money and time noe hw cant come he needs to w8 till aug/sept to see if they call him or not please add me

That is wrong

Am sorry to say that but i agree with the person who has commented on that .. Your husband is telling lies about that .. Am an Egyptian male .. Am exempted cause am dual National ..
The army in Egypt cannot force someone to divorce .. Even if the person is married to an Israeli woman .. THIS IS NOT TRUE!
You have to find out what your husband is up to! Am sorry to say that

Is my Egyptian fiancee allowed to contact me while in the army?

Hi, assalamu-alaykum I came across your response here on the website in regards to the egyptian army forces. I figured going by your response you would be able to assist me with my question. My fiancee is native born egyptian and he is 36 years old and he was just called back 1 week ago to join the army again for 3 weeks. I am an American born citizen living in the United States. He clearly told me before he left that he is not allowed to call outside of egypt , have a mobile, use the internet or any source of communication outside of egypt to be able to contact me is this TRUE?

I would really appreciate a response is my email address...Hope to hear from you soon....

My dear.... sorry but that is

My dear.... sorry but that is a huge lie. Talk again with your Egyptian husband...

Did you get anything on

Did you get anything on this?
coz were the same case

Trying to get a straight answer

In reading the above, I see that many are as confused as I am regarding the definitive law regarding compulsory military service. My fiance, soon to be husband, has already served his compulsory year - and then stayed an extra 4 years serving as a lieutenant. He was recently called back to serve for one month - sort of a "refresher" on training. I have a few questions: 1. Will he be exempt from this service in the future after our marriage - as I am an American? 2. Who do I speak to to verify these "laws" on service and exemption? 3. Does anyone know how many years he will be required to spend a month in training if he is not exempt?

Security Office; It does a

Security Office; It does a kind of security check up that investigates issues regarding problems with the loyalty of the person being recruited. Based on their opinion it is decided if a person is should serve or not. They do not decide the period a person would spend in the army.

The following are some of 9 conditions that are investigated by the security Office, these conditions are clearly posted at every recruitment camp.

Bearing another citizenship, or being married to a foreigner
Having a parent or brother/sister bearing another citizenship
Visiting israel
Refusing to shave beard


I don't think this information is completely accurate. You say "they do not decide the period a person would spend in the army", but they can indirectly do that.

If they refuse a person to be an officer but allowed to be a private, then automatically they have decided that the person will not serve 3 years, and will serve just 1 year instead.

I know of cases where Egyptian men who had a non-Egyptian mother were made to serve as privates instead of officers (which is considered lucky, given the shorter period of time to serve).
Khalid Baheyeldin

I ve a question: when a

I ve a question: when a egyptian man is already in the army (when he works in it) and wants to marry a forigner..How can he ? Cos it's forbidden ?
How can u leave army ? Is there some money to give ? Or do the officers have a contract with for example, 5 or 10 or 15 years ?
Please tell me
Thank u so much