Telecommuting peacekeepers: U.S. eyes ‘restructuring’ Sinai force amid ISIL threat

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The United States is planning to automate and reconfigure its peacekeeping force in the Sinai Peninsula as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) grows in strength and number, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Egypt and Israel were informed on April 12 that the U.S. would be reviewing its peacekeeping mission where 600 U.S. troops are part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) who have monitored the Sinai since the Camp David Accords.

U.S. troops in Sinai. /
U.S. troops in Sinai. /

“I don’t think anyone’s talking about a withdrawal,” Davis said. “I think we’re just going to look at the number of people we have there and see if there are functions that can be automated or done through remote monitoring.”

A State Department official said the U.S. considered threats to both Israel and Egypt from Hamas and those affiliated with ISIL.

“Timing aside, I think this is more of a comprehensive look at how to restructure the force going forward,” said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesperson.

Toner said the U.S. plans to make the MFO “more agile” and to revamp it in a “smart, modernized way.”

Also on April 12, the Israel Defense Forces sent out a message on Twitter: “The threat of ISIL in Sinai has increased over the past year. Our navy is prepared.”

Meanwhile, ISIL claimed responsibility for the bombing on April 8 of two armored personnel carriers which killed seven Egyptian security personnel.