US to participate in biennial military exercise with Egypt for first time since Arab Spring

By Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN

(CNN) -- The US military will take part in a biennial joint military exercise with Egypt called Bright Star 2017 -- marking the first time the United States has participated in the joint exercise since the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The joint exercise dates back to the early 1980s, following the signing of the Camp David Accords during President Jimmy Carter's administration. Bright Star was carried out every other year since -- until 2012, when the exercise was canceled due to instability in Egypt after Mubarak's ouster.

Then-President Barack Obama canceled the exercise in 2014 over allegations of human rights abuses by the Egyptian government following the 2013 military coup.

US Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesman for US Central Command, which oversees US troops in the region, called Bright Star 2017 a bilateral "command-post exercise, field training exercise and senior leader seminar held with the Arab Republic of Egypt."

A US defense official told CNN that about 200 US troops would participate in the exercise. The last time Bright Star was held, in 2009, some 1,300 US soldiers and Marines took part.

"Participation strengthens military-to-military relationships between US forces and our Egyptian partners," Jacques told CNN, adding that "the exercise enhances regional security and stability by responding to modern-day security scenarios."

"We appreciate the invitation to work with the Egyptian Armed Forces," he added.


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