How cancelling Bright Star effects our relationship with Egypt. John McRae, a Bright Star veteran, explains.
I spent the month of November 2007 in the Sinai desert as an American Army officer participating in Operation Bright Star, the multinational military exercise hosted by Egypt. Bright Star recently made headlines when the White House pulled out of this year’s rotation, signaling a withdrawal of support for the Egyptian government in the wake of its latest brutal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In the past, Bright Star has been a fairly routine, though large-scale training mission, but in light of its sudden relevance to geo-politics, I thought I’d offer some observations for the unacquainted.
Operation Bright Star is officially a biennial training mission for militaries with a significant stake in Middle Eastern affairs to show good faith and partnership by conducting joint training missions—the high point of which is the chance to observe painstakingly rehearsed, controlled explosions. It’s also a long-standing symbol of the partnership between Egypt and the United States, a means of cementing that relationship, and a chance for U.S. officials to observe some of the returns on the 1.3 billion dollars annually that Washington has given Cairo in aid.