CAIRO – Egypt will host war games with U.S. troops this month for the first time in eight years, but the American contingent will be much smaller than in previous exercises, officials said Tuesday.
Army Spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai said the 10-day military exercises, known as "Bright Star," would begin Sept. 10 and include anti-terrorism training.
"Operation Bright Star is among the most important joint American-Egyptian exercises as they reflect the depth of relations," el-Rifai said in the statement. He gave no further details.
The bi-annual exercises date back to 1981, but the Obama administration postponed them in 2011, following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak, and scrapped them in 2013, after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in.
U.S. President Donald Trump has praised Egypt as a key ally against terrorism, but last month the United States cut or delayed some $300 million in military and economic aid over human rights concerns.
Maj. Adrian J. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the exercises, saying "approximately 200" U.S. forces would participate.
That's a much smaller contingent than in previous years, when thousands of forces took part in the exercises. In 1999, the drill included more than 70,000 troops from 11 countries.
"We have worked closely with our Egyptian partners to ensure the timing and circumstances were right to conduct this valuable exercise," Rankine-Galloway said. "This has been an important series of exercises since 1981, and it's a good thing for our military-to-military relationship to return to Bright Star again."
Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.