Thursday,21 June, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Thursday,21 June, 2018
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Military makeover

The Egyptian army is set to get a new look, replacing its famed uniform. Amirah Ibrahim looks into the indications and beyond

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egyptians who went to polling stations to vote on the new constitution were surprised to see army soldiers dressed in a new uniform.

“We thought they hired a special security forces to secure the voting. We then recognised they are our army soldiers,” commented one lady at a polling station in Nasr City. “They look great in the new colour. We are happy that the state cares about the soldiers and dresses them up well. It’s good.”

The decree, which was applied to soldiers who took part in safeguarding the referendum, will be applied to all army officers starting next week.

Hundreds of thousands of army soldiers, officers and personnel will put on the new outfit. This means more than 300,000 new uniforms are being prepared in the first phase and will be ready on time.

“It’s normal that each soldier receives two military uniforms, one for operations on the field and one for the office,” explained Colonel Ahmed Ali, the Armed Forces official spokesman. “This doubles the number of new uniforms in the second phase,” Ali added. Expenses were not revealed to the press.

The Egyptian army has been wearing its current uniform for around 30 years. Following the 1973 October War, former president Anwar Al-Sadat sought a change of military uniform as part of his significant shift away from the then Soviet Union, Egypt’s ally, to a new American partnership. As such, the military uniform changed during Sadat’s time from light brown to olive green. The office uniform remained the khaki or medium-coloured brown.

The new field uniform will be yellow beige with dark leopard spots in brown and green. The helmet takes the same colours while the shoes remain black.

Ali explained that changing the uniform was part of the army’s ambitious plan to develop and improve all aspects related to its personnel. “The Armed Forces Command made the military uniform on the list of items subject to development among dozens of other requirements. This started a year ago, but the involvement of the Armed Forces in the political scene delayed the action or slowed it down.”

Ali was referring to the transitional period following the 25 January Revolution when former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down and assigned the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to run the country. Military commanders took over all related political, economic and social affairs and the army deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to replace police forces after the collapse of security bodies.

After almost 18 months, SCAF quit the political theatre, handing over power to Egypt’s first civilian president with no military background, and returning to its barracks. President Morsi dismissed all SCAF commanders in August and appointed a new commander, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi as defence minister, forming a new military team of assistants in which SCAF was reshaped.

According to Ali, the Armed Forces command sought to make the debut of the new uniform coincide with the constitutional vote to give the public a positive impression of the troops.

“Our aim is to keep the troops alert for their major mission which is to preserve the national security of the country, defend the borders against any threat and protect our people and ensure peace,” explained Ali.

Accordingly, Al-Sisi ordered a speeding up of the new uniform to improve the army’s image which was tarnished during a messy and many times violent transitional stage following the stepping down of Mubarak.

“Commander Al-Sisi is keen to heal the wounds [and strengthen ties] that marked the strong and positive relationship between the army and the people. A change in uniform accompanied by a return of the troops to concentrate on their main duties would help both the people and the troops overcome the consequences of the hard times the Egyptian people passed through.”

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