A celebration marking the completion of the Peace Vector VII Program was held at Cairo West Air Base in Egypt on Sept. 11, 2019.
“This is a great accomplishment that took nearly two decades of hard work by the district’s great Egypt PDT,” said Khaled Masoud, chief of Construction Division for the USACE Middle East District and one of the distinguished guest speakers at the ceremony. .
“The Peace Vector VII program was initiated at the direction of the Egyptian Air Force around 2003 to upgrade the existing operations and maintenance facilities serving the F-4 mission to become available for the F-16 program use,” explained Masoud. “The intent was that common support facilities would be shared by all missions at Cairo West Air Base, including the F-4’s, E-2C’s, and the C-130’s. The program was tailored to have Cairo West Air Base be fully functional, self-sustaining, and not reliant on facilities at other bases for operational or maintenance functions.
“And this is the culmination of over a decade of dedicated work with more than a $150 million foreign military finances investment,” said Masoud. “On behalf of the Middle East District Commander Col. Philip Secrist, myself and the district staff, congratulations on this great achievement.”
Masoud gave special thanks to the Egyptian Armament Department and Cairo West Air Base for allowing this ribbon cutting celebration in one of the largest facilities executed under the Peace Vector VII program.
The program achieved the mission of delivering vital military engineering services; strengthening Egypt’s and the United States’ security and regional stability objectives. The Peace Vector VII, F-16 Squadron is the symbol of successful partnering between the two nations.
Maj. Gen. Ralph Groover, Defense Attache to the Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, said that the ceremony marked a great day for both countries. “This is another demonstration of the close partnership between Egypt and the United States. And this is a very significant milestone. This doesn’t happen overnight. [Peace Vector VII] is the result of many people’s long-term efforts to try to put this together,” Groover said during the ceremony.
“The Egyptian government and its military are critically important to the stability of this region. And everything that we do together to empower the Egyptian armed forces to reach their defense requirements and goals, adds to the stability in the region. Operation of a big fleet of these modern airplanes like the F-16 takes the skills of not only trained pilots, but also trained maintenance technicians, support personnel and facilities infrastructure. It takes all of that to make this capability a reality. The teamwork of all of these organizations [Egyptian government and armed forces, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Corps of engineers and contractors] has ensured the success here,” said Groover.
“This is not about concrete brick and mortar,” Masoud said, but “it is about strengthening the power projection and the regional stability. With all the challenges we faced as a team over the past decade, we were able to deliver this vital program that we are all proud of.”
“This accomplishment would not have happened without the solid leadership and direction provided by the Egyptian Air Force, Armament Department, Office of Military Cooperation, U.S. Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and contractors, AICI and all previous contactors,” Masoud said.
History behind the Peace Vector Program
The Peace Vector program came about as a result of devastating losses to Egypt’s armed force during the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967. Egypt turned to the USSR for assistance afterward and Russia provided advisors and instructors to help rebuild the Air Force. Then in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War with Israel, the Egyptian Air Force lost nearly half of its 220 aircraft, but Russia wasn’t as quick to assist that time. So Egypt reached out to others, including France and the United States.
Egypt and Israel had been at odds, diplomatically and militarily, since Israel was established in 1948. Tensions only grew after both the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Also tensions grew when the Sinai Peninsula, which had been under Egyptian control, was taken over by the Israelis during the 1967 conflict.
In September 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter brought Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin together for nearly two weeks of secret negotiations at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. On Sept. 17, 1978, a series of agreements were signed that stabilized the relationship between the two countries.
The ultimate goal of the negotiations, which later became known as the Camp Dave Peace Accords, was to establish the framework for peace in the Middle East by gaining Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist, coming up with a plan for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories of the West Bank, to establish a Palestinian state, and to take steps to safeguard the security of Israel.
The Camp David Accords included two separate agreements: “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” and “A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel.”
The two agreements effectively outlined the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty that was ratified by both sides in March 1979. Several issues were discussed including the Palestinian statehood and legitimate rights of citizens, withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank, the future of Jerusalem, and restoration of diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt. In turn, Egypt would allow Israel to use the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran to connect to the Red Sea. The treaty also called for the United States to provide both countries with billions of dollars in annual subsidies, including military aid – Egypt was to receive $1.3 billion in military aid and Israel, $3 billion.
These financial funds were and are still provided to both countries in addition to other aid and investment packages. Although not entirely successful in bringing complete peace to the region, they have stabilized relations between the two countries.