Multinational Force and Observers
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
On March 26, 1979 the Camp David Accords were signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat under the sponsorship of United States President Jimmy Carter.
Following the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the United Nations was asked to provide the peacekeeping forces for the Sinai Peninsula mandated in the treaty. The terms of the treaty required the presence of international peacekeepers to ensure that both Israel and Egypt kept to the provisions regarding military build-up along the border. 
Initially, the peacekeeping force was provided by the US Sinai Field Mission, while efforts were made to create a UN force.
On May 18, 1981 the President of the UN Security Council indicated that the UN would be unable to provide the force, due to the threat of a veto of the motion by the USSR at the request of Syria.
As a result of the UN Security Council impasse, Egypt, Israel and the United States opened negotiations to set up a peacekeeping organization outside the framework of the UN. On August 3, 1981, the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace was signed, establishing the Multinational Force and Observers.
MissionThe mission of the MFO is:
"...to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms." This is accomplished by carrying out four tasks:
- Operating checkpoints, observation posts and conducting reconnaissance patrols on the international border as well as within Zone C,
- Verification of the terms of the peace treaty not less than twice a month,
- Verification of the terms of the peace treaty within 48 hours, upon the request of either party,
- Ensuring freedom of international marine navigation in the Strait of Tiran and access to the Gulf of Aqaba
OrganizationThe MFO has its main headquarters in Rome, where it is headed by the Director-General. It also has two regional offices, in Tel Aviv and Cairo, while the Force itself is based in Zone C on the Sinai Peninsula, under the command of the Force Commander.
The Force Commander is responsible for the military elements of the MFO, which comprise:
- Three infantry battalions (FIJIBATT, COLBATT and USBATT)
- Support Battalion (Formerly the Logistical Support Unit)
- Coastal Patrol Unit (CPU)
- Rotary Wing Aviation Unit (AVCO)
- Fixed Wing Aviation Unit (FWAU)
- Transport and Engineering Unit (TREU)
- Military Police Unit (FMPU)
- Flight Following (Air Traffic control) Unit
States involvedThe personnel for these come from a total of eleven states:
- Australia - 25 personnel based at Force HQ (departing in 1986 and returning in 1993 replaced in the interim by a contingent from the United Kingdom) 
- Canada - 28 personnel within the Force and Contingent HQs in addition to the Operations, Liaison, V.I.P. Visit Office, Air Traffic Control, Transport, Support and Personnel Branches 
- Colombia - Infantry battalion (COLBATT) - 358 personnel
- Fiji - Infantry battalion (FIJIBATT) - 329 personnel
- France - 15 personnel based at Force HQ and with the fixed wing unit
- Hungary - Military Police Unit - 41 personnel
- Italy - Coastal Patrol Unit with 75 personnel and 4 ships: ITS Vedetta, ITS Sentinella, ITS Staffetta and ITS Esploratore
- New Zealand - 27 personnel divided between support battalions and Training and Advisory Team
- Norway - 6 personnel based at the Force HQ including the Force Commander as of 12 October, 2007 - Major General Kjell Narve Ludvigsen
- United States - The US contributes three units collectively known as Task Force Sinai :
- Force HQ - 40 personnel
- Infantry Battalion (USBATT - drawn from National Guard units)- 425 personnel currently members of the Kansas Army National Guard
- Support Battalion - 235 personnel consisting of:
- Medical Company consisting of Dental, Medical, Physical Therapy, Veterinarian, and Preventative Medicine.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment (EOD)
- Aviation Company
- Uruguay - 87 personnel with Transport and Engineering Unit
- Netherlands - Until 1995 provided Military Police and a Communications Squadron and were replaced by Hungary
MilitaryMilitary personnel serving with the MFO wear national military dress appropriate to the climatic conditions of the Sinai. In the case of the U.S. Army, the Sinai saw the first use of the desert version of the Battle Dress Uniform, the six-color Desert Battle Dress Uniform which would later be worn during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, then the three-color Desert Combat Uniform - currently the US Army wears the standard Army Combat Uniform (ACUs). Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Hungary, New Zealand and Norway have all developed or adopted their own desert uniform for use in the Sinai and elsewhere. All contingents wear national flags or crests to identify their country of origin.
MFO crests are sewn on uniforms to identify the wearer as a member of the force. All military members of the force wear a terracotta-colored beret or bush hat. Terracotta-colored helmet covers are provided for soldiers wearing field gear and/or body armor. Some contingents, such as Colombia, also wear terracotta neck scarves when on parade. During the eighties a terracotta-colored "ranger" patrol hat was also in use, but was discontinued by the 1990s.
The terracotta beret is unique to the MFO and was selected to show that the force is not a United Nations peacekeeping force. UN peacekeeping forces wear a distinctive light blue beret. An MFO badge is also worn on the beret, a metal badge for commissioned officers, and cloth badge for non commissioned officers.
Civilian observersThe 15 civilian observers employed by the MFO wore highly visible orange coveralls while carrying out their treaty verification duties until the arrival of US Foreign Service Observer Harry Holland in 2002, when he affected a change to bright orange shirt worn with khaki trousers, now used on all ground verification missions. The orange shirts have since been replaced by black polo shirts.
DecorationsPeacekeepers who complete a tour of service in the Sinai of six months are authorized their first Multinational Force and Observers Medal. These are commonly presented at contingent medal parades. Each six-month tour after that authorizes the wearer to place a number on their ribbon (beginning with the number "2"). Civilians employees of the Force are authorized to wear the MFO Civilian Medal for the same terms of service as peacekeepers. Finally there is the Director General's Award , which is presented to both peacekeepers and civilians for outstanding service or action on behalf of the MFO. Other awards for service or merit are in accordance with the practices and traditions of the individual contingents.
- January 1982
Upon arrival they were initially housed in several buildings which were in existence as part of Etam Airbase. It was several months before permanent buildings were in place.
- March 1982
- April 1982
- February 1984
Later that same year, American pilot Chief Warrant Officer Two Charles N. Hurt and two other crew members were killed on a UH-1 Iroquois test flight outside South Camp.
- March 1985
- December 1985
- April 1986
- December 1989
- March 1990
- January 1993
- August 1994
- January 1995
- September 1995
- June 2004
- January 2005
- August 2005
- January 2006
- February 2006
- April 2006
- May 2007
The aircraft was operated by the French Air Force as their contribution to the MFO. It made regular flights between the two main MFO bases at El Gorah and Sharm el-Sheik, as well as conducting observation missions as part of the MFO's mandate.
- December 2008
Sinai Peacekeeping Zones
- Zone A: Between the Suez Canal and Line A. Egypt is permitted a mechanized infantry division with a total of 22,000 troops in Zone A.
- Zone B: Between Line A and Line B. Egypt is permitted four border security battalions to support the civilian police in Zone B.
- Zone C: Between Line B and the Egypt-Israel border. Only the MFO and the Egyptian civilian police are permitted within Zone C.
- Zone D: Between the Egypt-Israel border and Line D. Israel is permitted four infantry battalions in Zone D.
- North Camp is at El Gorah, 37 km south-east of El Arish and is the location of the military Force HQ.
- South Camp is located between the towns of Sharm el Sheikh and Naama Bay.
Zone CZone C is subdivided into sectors, each controlled by a Sector Control Center. The sectors are numbered from north to south and assigned:
- Sectors 1 and 2 - Fijibatt
- Sectors 2 and 4 - Colbatt
- Sectors 5, 6 and 7 - USbatt.
Life in the SinaiMaintaining a good quality of life for MFO members in the Sinai is difficult, due to the remoteness and desolation of the region as well as more recent security concerns. Gym facilities, clubs, medical facilities, libraries and exchanges are provided at both North Camp and South Camp. In addition, North Camp possesses a pool while South Camp boasts Herb's Beach, a section of the Red Sea coastline where it is possible to snorkel just a few feet into the water and see a variety of tropical fish.
The Force has its own magazine, the bimonthly and bilingual Sandpaper. Published in English and Spanish it is produced by the Press and Visits Office. Sporting events are held at both camps. Members are encouraged to take trips to Israel and Egypt, usually in organized trips. In the Sinai there are also trips to Mount Sinai, Luxor, Cairo, Jerusalem, and other various sites within Egypt and Israel. A television and radio system also service North Camp and South Camp.
There are venues for live shows at both camps and the U.S. organization Armed Forces Entertainment provides a variety of bands, dancers and other acts to keep the troops entertained.
At remote sites, which might house only a dozen peacekeepers, the quality of life is harder to maintain. During tours at remote sites peacekeepers have access to the internet, are provided with workout equipment and are permitted mascots. Mascots are not allowed at the main camps, even though a veterinarian is available to maintain the health of the animals, which are almost always dogs.
After the original inception of the MFO routine travel to al-Arish, Sharm el Sheikh and a beach facility near the Gaza Strip were restful getaways but recent security concerns over possible Hamas activity has changed that. Similarly, a bicycle competition known as the Tour de Sinai which had begun in 1985 had gone by the wayside in recent years.