O (Reuters) - Egypts military has resisted US pressure to modify its strategy to counter new regional threats, stressing the countrys national security was a red line the United States could not cross, leaked US diplomatic cables showed.
Egypt has received over $36 billion in US military aid since in 1979 when it made peace with Israel, the second largest recipient of US foreign aid. But the cables showed Washington and its Arab ally disagreed on how the money should be spent.
US defence officials said Egypts army was outdated and needed to be re-focused to counter asymmetric threats such as terrorism, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, piracy and support US policy toward Iran, a February 9, 2010 cable showed.
While the US-Egypt military relationship remains strong, the Egyptian military has been resistant to our efforts to adjust its focus to reflect new regional and transnational threats, said a February 28 2010 cable. But Egyptian military officials said threats facing their US ally were different from Egypts.
The Arab countrys defence policy priorities were Egyptian land and the Suez Canal, and keeping a strong conventional army to counter other armies in the region, Major-General Mohammad al-Assar said in the February 9 2010 cable.
While Egypt preferred to purchase its weapons and armaments from the United States, its national security was a red line Assar said, adding that they could go elsewhere if they had to, the memo showed.
Much of the annual $1.3 billion military aid to Egypt goes toward acquiring US equipment to modernize its aging army.
A September 2008 cable showed US officials criticizing Egypts army for continuing to ... train for force-on-force warfare with a premium on ground forces and armour.
The US memo said Egypts Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, 77, was the chief impediment to transforming the militarys mission.
But Assar said heavy gear such as aircrafts and tanks were necessary in counter-terrorism missions and called on US officials to tell Congress not to limit the number Egypt acquires.
Other Egyptian officials complained that the United States has increased military aid to Israel while Egypts amount was fixed, adding Israel possessed unconventional weapons which creates a regional imbalance and could cause instability.
Analysts have said Egypts military had a disgruntled mid-level officer corps, and was in decline, but remained influential in ensuring the stability of President Hosni Mubaraks government, the Sept 2008 cable said .
Since a 1952 coup that ousted the monarchy, all of the countrys presidents have come from army ranks.