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CENTCOM chief visits Sinai as US, Egypt prep military drill

CENTCOM chief visits Sinai as US, Egypt prepare for largest military drill in years
2 min read
31 July, 2023
US CENTCOM Commander General Michael Kurilla visited Sinai and discussed an upcoming military exercise on the Egypt-Gaza border.
General Michael Kurilla is the most senior US military official ever to visit northern Sinai [Getty]

The chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Michael Kurilla, has visited northern Sinai on Friday in the first-ever such visit by a senior US security official to the area.

General Kurilla met the commander of the 2nd Egyptian Field Army, Major General Mohammed Abd El Rahmman Rabie, at the Rafah border crossing, where preparations for military exercises on the Egypt-Gaza border were discussed.

He toured the border area between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt, marking the "first-ever visit by a US military official to northern Sinai, particularly in the border area with Gaza and the Rafah crossing", sources in north Sinai told The New Arab's Arabic language site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

General Kurilla also met with Egypt's Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Osama Askar, and his aides in Cairo during the trip to Egypt.

"The trip focused on shared security concerns, including border security; enhanced partnered training, including the upcoming BRIGHTSTAR 23 exercise; and opportunities to reinforce the long-standing U.S. and Egypt military partnership," a CENTCOM statement said.

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The upcoming Bright Star military exercise, set to take place next month, has been described as the largest such drill in years and is expected to see the participation of over 7,000 military personnel from 33 countries.

"The growth of the BRIGHTSTAR Exercise is key to improving the interoperability between CENTCOM forces, Egypt’s Armed Forces, and all the other regional forces participating," said General Kurilla. "Egypt’s leadership is critical to security in the region."

The leaders also discussed the continued efforts to improve security of the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip - which is under a crippling siege by Israel - with a particular importance on the Rafah border crossing.

The area witnessed a rare security incident in August, which left three Israeli soldiers and one Egyptian policeman dead.