Last Updated: Fri Feb 11, 2011 20:52 pm (KSA) 17:52 pm (GMT)

Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's Higher Military Council

Egypt's Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Egypt's Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Egypt's Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is the head of the Higher Military Council that took control of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak resigned his post as president on Friday.

Here are some facts about Tantawi:

He was born on Oct. 31, 1935 and joined the armed forces in 1956.Tantawi holds the rank of Field Marshal and has served in the government of Egypt as minister of defense and military production since 1991 and a general commander for the armed forces since 1995.

Tantawi has served in three wars against Israel, starting with the 1956 Suez Crisis and both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars.

He was appointed deputy prime minister, in addition to his post as defense minister, after Mubarak sacked his cabinet in a failed attempt to calm mass protests on Jan. 29.

His military background and seniority had led to speculation he could be a possible runner for presidency, though some analysts said he had limited support among the armed forces' rank and file.

Here are some details of Egypt's military, which totals around 468,500 active personnel, plus a reserve of 479,000:

Army

Numbers: 280,000 - 340,000 including conscripts.
Main Battle Tanks - 3,723, including 973 A1M1 Abrams tanks.
Reconnaissance vehicles - 410.
Armoured Infantry Fighting vehicles - 610.
Armoured personnel carriers - 4,160.
Artillery pieces 4,480 (including 492 self-propelled, 962 towed).
Mortars - 2,528.
Air Defence surface-to-air missiles - at least 2,100.
Tactical surface-to-surface missiles - over 42.

Navy

Numbers: 18,500 including conscripts.
Submarines - 4 tactical patrol submarines.
Surface combatants - 10
Patrol and coastal combatants - 41

Air Force

Numbers: 30,000 including 10,000 conscripts.
Combat capable aircraft - 461. 165 fighter aircraft -- 26 F-16A, 12 F16-B, 74 C- MiG-21F and 53 Mirage D/E.
Helicopters - 4 Commando electronic Intelligence
125 Electronic Attack helicopters

Other Forces:

There are also 150,000 Air Defense Command troops and 397,000 paramilitaries comprising Central Security Forces, National Guard and Border Guard forces.

Some History

The performance of the army during the October 1973 War against Israel helped restore the military's prestige after its defeat in the Six-Day war in 1967, and justified President Anwar Sadat's emphasis on professionalism and avoidance of civilian politics.

The armed forces have played a role in maintaining domestic stability previously, but only under the most compelling circumstances. These included violent 1977 food riots and an uprising of conscripts of the Central Security Forces in Cairo and other cities in 1986.

The professionalism of the armed forces during these emergencies reinforced the public view that the army was the ultimate safeguard against militant Islamists or others who might threaten civil authority.

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