Sharm el Sheikh
The Multinational Force and Observers [MFO] has two camps, North Camp and South Camp. The MFO's Sinai headquarters at North Camp is located at el Gorah in northern Sinai, approximately 25 kilometers from the Egyptian-Israeli border. Soldiers are stationed at observation points to ensure both parties abide the treaty. The force and observers, totaling 1,900, are under the command of a Norwegian military officer. The military personnel are on loan from 11 nations.
The region of Sharm EL Sheikh is a series of bays with innumerable coral reefs located on the east shore at the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The whole of Sinai was declared by the Egyptian army as a military zone after the Tripartite Suez War in 1956, in which the Israelis briefly occupied the strategic Egyptian naval base at Sharm el Sheikh. In 1967 Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Strait of Tiran, cutting off Israel's access to the Red Sea. The blockade of this strategic point led to the Six Day War and the occupation of the Sinai by Israel. In 1968 the Israelis developed a settlement on the cliff of Ras Um Sidd and called it Ophira. This today is the old city of Sharm El Sheikh. Present-day Sharm El Sheikh is an Egyptian naval base, which is spread along the shore and hillside. The port of Sharm el Sheikh is located in the Bay of Sharm el Maya. The harbor is under military surveillance by Egyptian forces and the Multinational Observer Forces (MFO), which control this important strategic point.
The smaller South Camp, near Sharm el Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, is positioned on a bluff overlooking the Red Sea. South Camp is almost 500 Km from North Camp. There are two routes to South Camp. The MSR (Main Supply Route) and the SSR (Second Supply Route). The MSR is a pretty good road which leads along a lot of MFO Observation Posts (OP's) and Control Posts (CP's). The SSR leads along the Israeli border and joins the MSR halfway down the Sinai near CP-3b. The SSR has a stretch of 80 km where the road is just a dirt road.
South Base Camp provides billeting for soldiers assigned to the MFO for duty. Soldiers in the rank of PVT thru SGT are housed two per room (11' X 14'). SSG and above are housed one per room (9' X 11'). All rooms are air conditioned and have desks, wallockers, and shelves.
The Israeli border is defined on one end by the town of Rafah, part of the volatile Gaza strip, and on the other by the Israeli resort town of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. The accords authorize the Israelis no more than one mechanized brigade in the vicinity of the border. The Israelis depend on sophisticated listening stations and ground surveillance radar to secure the border, and very rarely have anything other than heavily armed four-wheel-drive vehicles within the zone set by the treaty. The toughest part of treaty verification along the Israeli border is Israeli air-traffic control. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) often use Nomad aircraft as training aids, vectoring F15 and F16 fighters as well as pairs of IDF AH-64 Apaches to intercept.
Herb's Beach is an incredible private beach for only MFO soldiers. It offers swimming, tanning, snorkling and scuba diving. Diving is very popular in the region around South Camp, because of the stunning coral reefs on our Red Sea coasts. Perhaps having become a legend and symbol, Herb has been here since the beginning years of the MFO. Herb is a retired Command Sergeant Major who was stationed here years ago. He liked it so much, he decided to stay. When asked how long he would continue to stay he said, "I will stay until they make me leave." Herb's sayings decorate South Camp with on fliers and signs. Walking down to Herb's Beach on every step there is a message from him about safety and teamwork.
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