Egypt, Greece Conclude Joint Exercise 'Medusa 2017'

Egypt and Greece became strategic allies to tackle common challenges and threats in the unstable Middle East. Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay considers the military ties between the two states

Photo courtesy of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff

Egyptian and Hellenic air and naval forces have conducted a joint military exercise from July 30 to August 3, 2017. The exercise was held in the framework of the military cooperation between the two countries.  

Hellenic Navy units that participated in the drills included Hydra-class frigate HS Spetsai, Elli-class frigate HS Kanaris, a submarine and a range of aircraft. The Egyptian Navy ships sent its Mistral-class landing helicopter dock Anwar El-Sadat, FREMM frigate Tahya Misr, and the recently commissioned S-41 submarine. Egyptian F-16 fighter jets also took part in the exercises.

The forces participated in surface, anti-submarine, and anti-air warfare exercises, in addition to search and rescue drills, gunfire exercises and maritime interdiction operations training.

Egypt's Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi and Chief of the Greek National Defense General Staff (HNDGS) Evangelos Apostolakis attended on August 3, 2017, the main phase of the Egyptian-Greek military drills.

Speaking on the occasion, Hegazi commended the excellent performance of the troops participating in the exercises, a matter that reflected their combat preparedness. He lauded the deeply rooted ties and military cooperation between the armed forces of Egypt and Greece. For his part, Apostolakis extolled the high performance of the troops participating in the exercises.

"Medusa 2015" Joint Exercise (December 2015)

Egypt and Greece held a joint naval and air force exercise dubbed "Medusa 2015" on December 9-15, 2015, at the sea region of the southern Aegean, the Cretan Sea, and the Libyan Sea. "Medusa 2015" included search and rescue exercises with the participation of warships and Super Puma helicopters, air-defense and electronic war exercises, fire exercises, technical and interception exercises.

Greece participated with its Psara and Nikiforos Fokas frigates, the rocket ship Daniolos, and ten F-16s. Egypt sent its Alexandria frigate, the rocket ships ENS M.Fahmy and ENS A.Gad, four aircraft F-16 stationed at Souda base, and six F-16 that operated from airbases in Egypt.

The chiefs of the Egyptian and the Greek staffs, Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy and Adm. Evangelos Apostolakis, observed the exercise from the Greek frigate Psara and afterward from the Egyptian frigate Alexandria.

The Military Cooperation between Egypt and Greece (2017)

On January 30, 2017, Egypt’s Army Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy met in Cairo with the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff Nikolaos Tsounis for talks over means of expanding military cooperation. Egyptian army spokesman Tamer El-Rifaei said that the talks involved several issues of mutual interest, including an exchange of viewpoints towards developments taking place in the MENA region and their regional and international impact.

Hejazy affirmed the depth of the ongoing partnership and cooperation between the Egyptian and Greek armed forces to support the efforts of security and stability in the Middle East.

On April 24, 2017, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on the sidelines of the "Ancient Civilizations Forum" in Athens. The meeting took up ways of boosting bilateral ties between Egypt and Greece, especially in the military sphere. The meeting also tackled efforts to combat terrorism, organized crime and the illegal immigration in the Mediterranean region.

The two sides also took up joint projects being implemented as part of a cooperation mechanism between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus in electricity, managing wastes and fish farms. The Greek minister listened to Egypt's viewpoint regarding the crucial issues in the regional sphere, with a special regard to the situation in Libya.

On May 17, 2017, Greece and Egypt signed the Military Cooperation Program (MCP) 2017 at HNDGS HQs. The MCP was signed by the Director of HNDGS International Relationships Directorate, Brig. Miltiadis Grillakis and the Director of International Cooperation Directorate of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Staff, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Fahmy Ahmed Mohamed. The MCP includes actions concerning operational and individual training, as well as information exchange.

Summary

Greece and Egypt face common challenges and threats in the unstable and violent Middle East:

Refugees: Greece has received millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, while Egypt already hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Sudan, Eritrea and other African countries.

Terrorism: Egypt is challenged by religious extremism and terrorism, while Greece has a similar potential threat.

Libya: After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya became a failed state and a gateway for illegal immigrants, terrorists, and weapons.

Turkey: both countries have political and economic disputes with the Erdogan regime.

To tackle these challenges, Egypt and Greece became strategic allies. Combating terrorism, smuggling, sea piracy, and illegal immigration is part of the security cooperation between the two countries.

The Egyptian Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi met with his Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos in April 2015, to discuss the possibilities to "enhance cooperation and military relations between the armed forces of both countries." A month later, Hellenic Air Force units arrived in Egypt to participate in the joint Egyptian-Greek air force exercises "Horus 2015." In December 2015, Egyptian Navy and Air Force units left for Greece to participate in the joint exercise "Medusa 2015."

The joint exercises came in the context of augmenting unique relationships, bolstering cooperation and exchanging expertise between the armed forces of Egypt and Greece.

Earlier this year, Egypt collaborated with the US Navy in the "Eagle Salute 2017" exercise that took part in the regional waters of the Red Sea, and later held a naval exercise with French naval forces dubbed "Cleopatra" in Egyptian territorial waters of the Mediterranean and Red seas.

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