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US equipment starts arriving in Egypt
for the world's largest military manoeuvres

Jordan Times, AP, 5 Sep 2001


CAIRO (AP) -- US troops, tanks and artillery are pouring into the Mediterranean port of Dekheila for the world's largest military exercises, Egyptian Defence Ministry sources said Tuesday. The 10-days war games dubbed Bright Star are due to begin Oct. 13. Forces from 10 nations will take part, familiarising themselves with each other's equipment and techniques.

The main military manoeuvres, including land, sea and air operations, are to begin on Oct. 18 and runs through Oct. 23.

The biannual Bright Star manoeuvres began in 1981 as a US-Egyptian training exercise. Other nations joined over the years. This year, eight other countries will take part in the exercises designed to improve the ability of allies from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to work together in times of war.

Jordan, Greece and Germany will take part in the exercises for the second time. France, Britain, Italy, Spain and Kuwait will also participate.

Egypt, a strategic ally of the United States, is the second-largest recipient of US military aid, after Israel, receiving $1.3 billion a year in military aid.

It was the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel and is a key player in Mideast peacemaking efforts.

About 18,000 US soldiers took part in the last manoeuvres. This year, some 14,000 American troops are expected to take part.

On Monday and Tuesday, about 110 people from Hill Air Force Base in Utah began heading to Egypt as an advance team to build an air base. They will set up electrical and water operations, along with a tent city and dining facility.

Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the US Central Command, was in Egypt in August and held meetings with Egypt's top brass about the exercises as well as the escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

On Aug. 19, Egypt received four F-16 jets from Lockheed Martin, the first batch of its six orders of F-16s, a company statement said. Four more aircraft are to be ferried to Egypt in early September.

The six orders make Egypt the second biggest repeat buyer after the US Air Force, according to an official of the US aeronautics company.

© 2001 AP
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

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