Four American and two Multinational Force and Observer peacekeepers were injured Thursday in two explosions in Northeast Sinai, the Pentagon said. The troops were hurt in two improvised explosive device explosions, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of press operations for the Defense Department, in a statement. Davis did not identify the injured service members in his statement, but did refer to them as “soldiers.” The Army has about 750 soldiers deployed to the Sinai peninsula. The injured troops were flown to a medical facility, where they were being treated for injuries that are not life-threatening.
The US committment to MNFO is usually one battalion task force, often supplied by the National Guard. Part of the 1977 Camp David Accords was our commitment to be observers there, to act as an honest broker to assure Israel that Egypt was not militarizing the Sinai peninsula for the purposes of another attack along the lines of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
And for the most part, the quiet deployment of US troops has been without incident. Egypt, however, now faces radical Islamists operating in the Sinai. They’ve staged an increasing number of attacks on those Egyptian forces in the area.*
But those radical Islamists have, previously, targeted Egyptian forces, and avoided US forces. This appears to have changed.
Worryingly, the Obama administration is floating the trial balloon of pulling our commitment to MNFO. While we of course do not wish to see US troops placed at risk needlessly, we also believe the US should stand up for its treaty commitments. Both Egypt and Israel would see a withdrawal of US troops as an abandonment of them, and further cement a perception of the last 7 years that the US is untrustworthy as an ally, and committed to supporting only its enemies.
The other two troops wounded were Fijian. Fiji has a small army. Basically the Fiji army exists to supply the occasional battalion to MNFO or other peacekeeping operations. The remuneration they receive in return from either MNFO (mostly the US) or the UN pays both the cost of the Fiji army, and a modest profit, and provides a decent means of employing military aged males from the island.