Observation Post 3-11
Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, sealing Israel off from trading with the east. The Egyptian position on the Straits of Tiran was that it was wholly contained within the borders of Arab states. Further, Israeli access to the Gulf of Aqaba through the Port of Eilat was contested by the Arab nations, who contended that the Israeli Army had illegally occupied the head of the Gulf of Aqaba after the Armistice in 1948. Israel considered Eilat part of their sovereign territory. In late October 1956, the IDF seized the entire Sinai and the Straits of Tiran in a ten day operation. Israeli goals were destruction of the fedayeen and their support structure in Gaza and Sinai, and freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. Assuring free passage for Israel through the straits was not much of a reach, given that a 1951 UN resolution had affirmed the Israeli right of innocent passage there.
At the Strait of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba narrows, and then forms a narrow mouth between the Sinai Peninsula and Tiran Island, opening up into the main body of the Red Sea. At the center is Tiran Island and a little to the east is the smaller island Sanafir. Both of the islands officially belong to Saudi Arabia but are being used by Egypt. Because of strict military regulations, it's not possible to enter the islands.
The Multinational Force and Observers [MFO] has soldiers 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.
Observation Post 3-11 is located on Tiran Island, five miles off Sinai's coast in the Gulf of Aqaba. OP 3-11 is manned by U.S. troops who monitor Israeli and Egyptian naval and maritime activities in the strategically vital area where the Gulf meets the Red Sea. Tiran Island now belongs to Saudi Arabia and is leased by Egypt so that the observation post can be operated there. The actual OP is located on the island's western edge, more than 800 feet tip a cliff wall overlooking heavily mined beaches. The island is accessible from the water in a few locations, but the OP's location and the treacherous slopes leading up to it make resupply by any combination of sea and ground transport almost impossible. The OP 3-11 troops therefore rely on the slingload missions flown on Thursday and Sunday mornings by UH-1's of the South Camp Aviation Platoon for their transportation to and from work, as well as for food, water, mail, fuel and just about everything else.
Observation Point 3-11 is about as big as Paradise Shoppette. It contains everything a Soldier needs, plus a few luxuries -- hot showers, full service kitchen and a day room. While on watch, Soldiers worked in three-man teams. The teams consisted of one noncommissioned officer, and two junior enlisted Soldiers. They rotated between three different shifts, pulling the same shift for two days, then rotating to another shift for two days. Once the Soldiers completed the third shift, they had a day off from guard watch.
Soldiers assigned to Task Force (TF) Sinai are entitled to HFP/IDP at the rate of $225/month. This amount is based upon a 30-day calendar month and is prorated ($7.50/day) in months a Soldier departs the HPF/IDP area on TDY or leave. Soldiers are entitled to Hardship Duty Pay (HDP) at the rate of $100/month while serving in TF Sinai. This entitlement begins only after a Soldier has been in country for 30 consecutive days. Personnel with DFAS tracked dependent status’ are entitled to Family Separation Allowance (FSA) at the rate of $250/month. Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE) is not authorized for the nation of Egypt. However, those Soldiers serving on Tiran Island or participating in Combat Water Survival Training in the Red Sea are entitled to CZTE for the month they are in either location.
In 2011 soldiers with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard, served with Multi-National Force and Observers, atop Observation Post 31 at South Camp, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Soldiers with Company A, rotate 21-day shifts at the observation point located above the Strait of Tiran to observe and report all vessels and aircraft movement through their area of operation.
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