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Monday, January 31, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

National Guard to continue peacekeeping role
in Sinai

WASHINGTON — The United States intends to keep its peacekeeping force in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.


The U.S. Army said the National Guard would retain its presence in Sinai despite the impending collapse of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The United States has nearly 900 troops, about half from the Illinois National Guard, who serve in the Multinational Force, assigned to monitor the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

"If the situation in Egypt changes the MFO and ILARNG [Illinois Guard] is capable of taking appropriate measures to safeguard American troops," the U.S. Army said. "The Illinois National Guard Soldiers stationed in Sinai are professional, highly trained and able to respond to a variety of incidents."

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On Jan. 30, Egypt said it would close the Rafah border terminal along the Gaza Stri, Middle East Newsline reportedp. Officials said the closure would be indefinite.

In a statement on Jan. 28, the army said the Illinois Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion was not affected by the unrest that has swept Egypt in which more than 150 people were killed. The statement did not cite reports of gun battles between Bedouins and Egyptian security forces in Sinai.

"The MFO's bases are hundreds of miles away from Cairo where the rioting is taking place," the Army said. "The rioting is not directed toward the MFO or the ILARNG soldiers."

Still, MFO has been hampered by disruption in commercial communications, particularly the Internet. Egyptian authorities have blocked most of the Internet and cellular communications in an attempt to quell bloody protests.

"Military communication channels between the MFO and the Illinois National Guard are still open and are being used to keep families abreast of the situation," the Army said.

Officials said the National Guard's 123rd Field Artillery was deployed to Sinai in May 2010. They said the unit was scheduled to leave Egypt in May of this year.


I spent all of 2005 with the California Army National Guard in the Sinai doing the MFO gig. There were riots that happened in Cairo and Alexandria, which restricted our travel beyond the Sinai but never impacted us directly. When Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab were bombed, we were not targeted. The tourist industry was. However, I would not take anything for granted. I don't want to put my fellow soldiers at risk in the Sinai, but I'd recommend the U.S. Army do something to plus up the numbers or bring them home if the Muslim Brotherhood take control of Egypt. It'd only be a matter of time before South Camp, North Camp and all of the OP's along the Red Sea are targeted.

Joe      12:01 a.m. / Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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