The United States has transferred a final shipment of 101 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to Egypt, completing an Excess Defense Articles grant of 930 MRAPs. The MRAP vehicles were transferred with no cost to the Egyptian government while Egypt is only responsible for arranging the shipment of the EDA MRAPs from the Sierra Army Depot in California to Egypt. After arrival in Alexandria, Egypt, the MRAP vehicles were loaded onto trains to be taken to a military workshop in Cairo for refurbishment.
The transfer included M1232 RG33L (baseline RG33), M1233 RG33L (Heavy Armored Ground Ambulance – HAGA), M1237 RG33 Plus (with additional armor), M1220 Caiman, and M1230 Caiman Plus vehicles, as well as MRAP Recovery Vehicles.
Egypt has submitted another Letter of Request for an additional 1,000 MRAPs that is awaiting approval.
The first shipment of 762 American MRAP vehicles arrived in the port of Alexandria on May 13, 2016.
Under the Excess Defense Articles Grant Program, the US DoD works to get rid of surplus military equipment and dedicates it to friendly countries and allies.
The heavily armored MRAPs are considered a US military light tactical vehicles designed specifically to protect soldiers from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines. The delivery is the latest step taken by the US government in support of Egypt’s fight against terrorism and is part of a broad range of military cooperation initiatives between the two countries.
The IED and Landmine Threat
In 21st-century asymmetric conflicts, IEDs and landmines play an increasingly important role, including in the conflict between Egypt’s security forces and Islamic terror groups in Sinai. An IED is a type of unconventional explosive weapon that can take any form and be activated in a variety of ways against military targets and civilians alike.
The IED in asymmetric conflicts is the weapon of the weak side and has proved to be a cheap, relatively easy-to-use tool against both civilians and military targets. Knowledge of IED construction is more readily available than ever. IED knowledge is available on the Internet, in extremist publications, and at terrorist training camps as well as the exploitation of readily available off-the-shelf technologies. Concerns over IEDs have increased markedly over the last years, as they continue to grow in scope and use.
Army and police forces in Egypt are engaging in a wide-scale anti-militant operation launched in the presence of the Islamic State in North Sinai since February 2018 (Sinai 2018 Comprehensive Operation). The operation aims to get rid of the terrorist group previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis that became “ISIS Sinai Province” in 2014, after declaring allegiance to the Islamic State.
Since the start of the “Sinai 2018 Comprehensive Operation,” the rate of militant attacks conducted by ISIS against the army, police, and civilians has declined due to many counter-attacks by the army against militants.
The threat of the IEDs will not disappear and continue to be part of the operational environment in Sinai and beyond. However, training troops in dealing with IEDs, the operational use of (MRAP) vehicles, and intelligence-based operations against the bomb makers can reduce the IED threat and the number of victims.
[Sources: DefenceWeb, Egypt Daily, Ahram Online]