I’m going to let you in on a secret:
Not even Egyptian Generals know.
Now you may ask yourself “how is that possible?”
The only way to truly know a military’s capabilities is to test them out, aka, fight a war (or at least intervene in one). The fanciest weapons in the world don’t mean anything to a military’s capabilities if the soldiers are not adequately trained and if the generals are not adequately competent to command them. This is why the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen has been so disastrous: they have the most expensive equipment in the world, but the Kingdom is reluctant to train its own troops on their fancy equipment and Saudi Arabia has a purposefully inefficient military chain of command – this is all to prevent a military coup of the el Saud family.
So what was the last combat operation Egypt was involved in? The first Gulf war in 1991.
Egyptian soldiers in Kuwait
That was nearly 30 years ago. On top of that, Egypt played a small role, only liberating Kuwait city itself, with the US taking the lead in that operation. It was hardly an event that tested Egypt’s military competence. But at the very least there were no stories of the Egyptian military being incompetent, so we know it wasn’t terrible.
So when was the last time Egypt fought a war on its own? 1973, the October War/Yom Kippur War against Israel. In this, the Egyptian chain-of-command did devise a strategy that took Israel off guard and defeated the Bar Lev line. That was undoubtedly an act of Egyptian High Command competence, at least, until the President of Egypt (Sadat) himself intervened and ruined it. In fairness, the Egyptian high command was against President Sadat’s intervention, so the generals were competent, but Sadat blew it.
Egyptians crossing the Bar Lev line
But once again, that was nearly 40+ years ago.
Egyptian generals today have very little actual combat experience, and the ones who did have experience in warfare, like General Tentawi, have either retired or are close to retiring.
So while Egypt may be going on a buying spree of upgrading its military, if the military commanders don’t know what they’re doing, it’s useless. And there are suggestions that the Egyptian military is lacking adequate training on these new shiny toys:
The low utilization rate of Egyptian equipment suggests an equally low level of training activity, and regardless of its equipment, no military can succeed without rigorous, realistic, constant, and repetitive training. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Egyptian training too often lacks free play in favor of rigid, pre-planned scenarios where the outcome is obvious and no surprises are permitted. Debriefings are similarly stage-managed, with a reluctance to address failures and develop lessons learned. There is little evidence of realistic joint training and no apparent effort to instill the kind of flexibility and resilience in leaders and decision makers that is so critical to success in any conflict, but perhaps especially so in counterinsurgency operations, which necessarily confront fluid and frequently ambiguous circumstances.
But here’s the thing: we just don’t know. This is all speculation, and we can take guesses, but they’re just guesses. Until Egypt faces a large enemy or launches a large-scale intervention in a conflict, like in Libya, we will never know. Who knows, maybe the doubters will be proven wrong & Egypt will have a very effective fighting force. But until that day happens, it’s anyone guess