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.



Hi how he will be able to


how he will be able to apply for a visa if he does not have a passport. the problem is to apply for a passport you will need a certificate from the army to say he had finished his training or he had an exemption.

Egyptian Army Clearance

My husband and I went to Egypt for the 1st time together since he was a child.We arrived in nov 09 and at the airport his passport got conviscated and he was held for questioning for 12 hours. I stayed till early january but they would not allow him to travel with me until he sorts his army position out.its been a year in november 2010 coming up and still he is stuck there being told he will not serve the army and just needs a signature from the ministry.Everytime he goes to the army to check if his paperwork is complete they tell him come back in 15days to 1 month.Can anybody tell me why they are doing this to him and how long more could this continue on for?

Egyptian Army Clearance

If your husband has not been there sense he was a child that means he never did the military service.
And sounds like he is under 30 years old.
If he or his father was born there,then he is a citizen. No matter how long he has been away.
If they keep him in that country for certain length of time they can then say he is a legal citizen with no question about it,and make him do the miltary service. Hopefully that does not happen but as for how long this is going take thats totally up to the military. One indication they want him for military is if they send him to office 75 in Cairo. Another indication is if they ask for pictures of you and a copy of your passport. That means they are checking to see if he would be a security issue if in the military.If his father is over 60 years old there is form he can file stating that the father can no longer work and he helps support the family.He does not have to live in Egypt to help support the family.He just needs to be exempted in order to leave. As to why they do this, Because that government hates it when an Egyptain marries a forienor.


Was wondering whether anyone can shed any light...... I have been to Sharm 4 times this year to see my boyfriend, whom I love very much, we are due to get married next year at Cario with the relevant paperwork from the British Embassy, so it will be an official marriage.

He is of the age were he can be called to do his military service and before meeting me he said this was not a problem, but now the only thing he wants is to be with me...... (I initially met him in Sharm whilst on vacation)

When I was over last month, we were talking about where we wanted to live, I have a child here in the UK and do not feel the time is right to uproot and move to Egypt, so what we decided was that my boyfriend would apply for his passport and then we would get him a vacation visa to stay with me. I would go back to Egyot with him and we would get married before applying for a residency visa in the UK, until my child is old enough to look after himself, then we would move back to live in Egypt.....

He is now worried, as applying for his passport will mean that he may have to complete his Military Service of 12months before they will let him leave Egypt. He is so upset and is trying to find another way for us to be together if this is the case. He has 2 brothers one older and one younger..... and his father is working. He is medically in good health, so as far as another reason and from what I have read its not looking promising that he will have to carry out his service.

If he does have to do his Military Service, I am of the opinion that we should wait to be married until he has completed this, he however is not and still wants to get married as soon as possible and in fact bring it forward, but I dont see the rush as he will be away from me for 12 months anyway.

My boyfriend is 24, yes he is younger than me but I without sounding over confident look around the same age..... I am typically what you would say is bait, older than my boyfriend, financially independant, blonde and petite..... but even though I have questioned his motives and not once has he given me reason to doubt his intentions as to why he wants to marry me so quickly.

My question would be:-
1. Will applying for his passport automatically mean he will have to complete his Military Service, sooner rather than later?
2. Is there any other way he could get excepted from completing it?

Thank you for your help in this matter, will be much appreciated.


Sounds to me like your boyfriend is under the empression that being married to a forienor will exempt him from doing military service. Years ago that was true but the law was changed. If he was to get married before checking with the military that will ensure that he will do his time and possibly longer time. There are several reasons for that.
If he brings it forward and tells them right off that he is married to a forienor they will start thier investigation that will last 6 months to a year. If there is no security issues then he will start his duty.
You might also advise him of the treatment he will get being married to a forienor. It's not good.
The best thing is to let him do his duty and get that over with before getting married.
He could get lucky and not be chosen in the random drawing or if his father is over 60 years old then he can apply to be exempted but that also takes several months.
The fastest way is to do the time and not mention the girlfriend or they will make him sign a paper stating no contact with forienors during his military duty.
The education in egypt is free and in return they serve thier country with military service. If they think he will leave the country they will extend his service for repayment of his education.
My husband believed his love was strong enough to endure whatever treatment they dished out. That love is being tested everyday and they are in the process of sending his papers back to the security office recommending a transfer for his own safety.
Every case is different but if you would like to know the steps that we have gone threw so far you may email me.

entering the army

I just had something I would want answered about it to serve the military in egypt .. he I'm with and I now have waited for weeks on weeks when he was going into. we are not either married on one way or another, that we choose to wait until after he has finished in the military

Now we know that he is in at the beginning of January. both are pretty stressed and wondering what will happen in the future, in terms of mobile phone use, Internet and vacations where we can meet ... how are the rules on this? how will we be able to maintain contact while he's there?

to those who might wonder what kind of man he is, then the answer is simple ... a good Egyptian
it is a pity they are being chopped at all times to never have noble thoughts, it is that people around the world. where we find the same thing ..

Entering the army


Its a very stressful time, and does put stress on any relationship.

He finds out today whether he will be doing his Service in January so I have my fingers and toes crossed.... I know it stresses them out and if your boyfriend is anything like mine he will not talk much about it but will get on with it.

If he does his service he has been told that he can not have contact for the first 45 days of training....this upsets us as we speak every day but its something we are going to have to get use to, after that it all depends where they actually send your boyfriend to and he wont find this out till near the end of his training.

Only advise is to stay strong and hope he gets a good position where he can have good vactions and will be able to have contact with you...... best of luck and stick in there!!!!!!

thank you for the answer:D

Hello and thanks for the reply: D

Hope it works out for you, too, and agree with you saying that there is a strain on the relationship .. We'll probably both, you and I just wait and keep faith in the relationship should be able to do this.
I must say here he is probably not the one who talks so much about it, But it a very easy to see that he thinks about this alot. Now i am so looking forward to see him again in 2 weeks, and just enjoy our time together.

Wish you and your boyfriend the best & make the best of your time together while you can.
Take care:D

Military..what can you do??

My husband is going today to hand in the last of the paper work, he will begin his service in January. I am curently in Egypt with him. It is a hard time for us as well.

To everyone dealing with this, I must say as he has said to me:"God doesnt give us what we cant handle" I was mad with the thought at first(why would God want to keep us apart!) but if you take the time to ponder it, maybe you too will see the truth in it.

There are trials and tribulations in life, and in every relationship, whether you marry someone from your country/religion or not. Put your faith in God and in EACH OTHER. Let the time your apart be something to create a stronger bond for you. Enjoy each and every minute you have with each other, dont take even one second for granted.

As much as I need him, he needs me. We both need to support each other and there is no time like the present to show that support. I hope you all find the strength to prevail.

As hard as it will be, (as I will be returning to my home country soon)....alone....I still have faith in this world, and most of all, in our love.

I wish you all the very best with yours. Keep smiling and brighter tomorrows :D

Counting the days untill March 2011...the end of his service, and the begining of the rest of our lives TOGETHER!

My husband(I am Canadian) was

My husband(I am Canadian) was doing the same thing had to go to head office in cairo for an interview and then the next day they told him to come back in a month, is that normal procedure? What would make them postpone it YET AGAIN????It has been alot of: ok, bring this and come back, get this and come back so far.......been going on since August. Any comments or advice welcome thanks!