When did Egypt create a professional army?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Because the history of Egypt is so vast, the origin of a professional army is subject to debate.  It makes the most sense to look at both the ancient and modern origins of Egypt’s professional army.  In the ancient world, Egypt became a professional army for two practical reasons that revolve around the Hyksos.  The Hyksos were a semitic people that dominated the delta during what is known as the intermediate period.  Their domination of Egypt was a result of superior technology, including the use of horse drawn chariots.  The Egyptians were able to expel the Hyksos under Ahmose I.  Legacies of this period were Egypt’s desire to never be ruled by outsiders, as well as the military innovation that the Hyksos used to dominate Egypt in the first place.

The victory of Ahmose over the Hyksos ushered in the New Kingdom period of Egypt (1550 BC-1070 B.C.E.)  It was during this time that Egypt became a more organized, professional army. The pharaohs realized that they could not survive with small pockets of conscript armies and moved towards a national, professional army.  

After the fall of the Egyptian dynasties to the Persians in 525 B.C.E., Egypt began a long period of colonial rule.  The modern adoption of a professional army can be traced to an Ottoman governor named Muhammad Ali Pasha (1830-1848 B.C.E.)  Muhammad Ali is considered the father of modern Egypt in many circles.  His goal was to make Egypt like a modern European state. He increased the industrial capacity of Egypt and created a modern and professional army in Egypt.  During his career, he made the Egyptian army the strongest military presence in the Middle East.  While Muhammad Ali Pasha was not able to gain Egypt’s independence in his lifetime, he is considered the father of Egypt’s modern army.  

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