By Ms. Adriane ElliotOctober 11, 2016
The Aug. 13 delivery of Army Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles from the United States to Egypt is another rung in the longstanding relationship between the two countries.
The most recent MRAP batch, part of a foreign military sales (FMS) case managed by the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC), combined with multiple previous deliveries makes it the largest FMS vehicle transaction of its type in Egypt's history.
Ivan Evans, USASAC's Country Program Manager (CPM) for Egypt-Land Forces, said the MRAPs were provided as part of the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Program. Typically used to help modernize partner forces, the program offers excess defense equipment at a reduced price or as a grant.
Evans said while the Egypt case is historic in volume, it is by no means unusual.
"The USASAC mission is to build partner capacity with our foreign allies," he explained. "When a nation strengthens its ability to defend its borders and protect itself, it contributes to stability throughout the region, and that can have a global impact."
In this case, Evans said the MRAPs are expected to enhance the Egyptian Armament Authority's ability to engage in counterterrorism operations and improve border security.
MRAPs were a critical tool in the war on terrorism, designed to withstand improvised explosive device attacks and ambushes. Prompted by U.S. deaths in the Iraq War, the U.S. Military MRAP program deployed more than 12,000 MRAPs in the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan.
In addition to supporting counterterrorism, FMS cases also support combatant command engagement strategies and strengthen U.S. global partnerships--critical elements of U.S. National Security.
Manuel (Manny) Rodriguez-Valentin agrees.
A retired Soldier and Team Lead CPM for the Egypt Program, Rodriguez-Valentin says he's spent years working cases in the Middle East nation and works closely with the Egyptian Ministry of Defense. Those years have fostered a trust and teamwork that is the bedrock of the FMS process.
"That's really what our motto, 'Strength in Cooperation,' is built on," he said.
Another key factor in building trustful relationships with partner nations is USASAC's Total Package Approach.
"USASAC's Total Package Approach means that we not only provide materiel to foreign allies, but we provide a long-term sustainment package--training, replacement parts, facilities, manuals, logistics support and other services to ensure a capability," said Rodriguez-Valentin.
"We don't provide allies equipment that they can't sustain" he said. "Our partners know they can depend on us for the long haul."
Despite shifting politics over the last century, the professional commitment underlined by the MRAP FMS case has proven solid since the U.S. began diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1922.
"FMS relationships strengthen defense capabilities for both the United States and the partner nation," said Rodriguez-Valentin. "As our partners increase their capability, it strengthens the multilateral coalitions and enables U.S. joint forces to be increasingly interoperable."
It also helps reduce deployments and saves the Army money.
"As allied militaries improve their capabilities and increase their load, it minimizes the need for U.S. troops to deploy in support of operations abroad," explained Rodriguez-Valentin. "This is one of the many significant benefits of foreign military sales and divestiture of excess defense articles."
The refurbishment of EDA supplements the workload at Army depots throughout the United States, keeping workers employed and industry enabled. FMS can also produce economies of scale, which lowers the Army's production costs of equipment. The savings go toward modernizing other defense systems.
"What most people don't know is the USASAC mission is going on every day, without fanfare, in all corners of the globe," said Rodriguez-Valentin. "The benefits are numerous and far reaching, helping achieve U.S. national security objectives. A win for our partners is a win for us."