Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Cole, July 29-30


DE RUEHEG #4559/01 2061603
P 251603Z JUL 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 115260



1. (SBU) Embassy Cairo warmly welcomes your visit to Egypt
on July 29-30. Your visit to the Multinational Force and
Observers' South Camp and other facilities will offer an
opportunity to talk to U.S. commanders on the ground about
MFO's operational mission and organizational structure, force
levels and budgetary requirements of the U.S. contingent, and
MFO's response to regional terrorist attacks and its
monitoring of the Egyptian Border Guard deployment. End

Background and Organization

2. (U) The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is an
independent international organization created by the 1979
Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel and the Treaty's
1981 Protocol to supervise the implementation of the security
provisions of Treaty and employ best efforts to prevent any
violation of its terms. It does so through combining static
and mobile means of observation by air, land, and sea to
execute its mission. MFO began its mission on April 25,
1982, the day that Israel returned the Sinai to Egyptian
sovereignty. The Protocol establishes four security zones,
three of which are in the Sinai (Zones A, B, and C) and one
in Israel (D). The Protocol also stipulates limitations on
military force levels and equipment within each zone. MFO's
expenses, less contributions from the governments of Germany,
Japan, and Switzerland, are funded in equal parts by Egypt,
Israel, and the United States. Ten participating
countries--Australia, Canada, Columbia, Fiji, France,
Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, the United States, and
Uruguay--provide the MFO with military contingents that make
up the Force.

3. (U) The Parties to the Treaty assigned the MFO the
following tasks:

--Operation of checkpoints, reconnaissance patrols, and
observation posts along the international boundary and within
Zone C.
--Periodic verification of the implementation of the
provisions of the Protocol, to be carried out at least twice
per month, unless otherwise agreed by the Parties
--Additional verifications within 48 hours after the receipt
of a request from either Party
--Ensure the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran

4. (U) The Director General, Ambassador (ret.) James A.
Larocco, leads the MFO from Rome. The Director General
exercises authority through his staff at the Headquarters in
Rome; the Force Commander (Italian Major General Roberto
Martinelli) and his staff in the Sinai; and the Director
General's Representatives and their staff in Cairo and Tel
Aviv. The Force and Observers consist of:

--a Headquarters with branches for Operations & Training,
Liaison, Support, Engineering, Communications and Information
Systems, and Personnel;

--three infantry battalions;

--a Civilian Observer Unit, which conducts reconnaissance
missions of verification in the four Treaty zones;

--a Coastal Patrol Unit;

--a Fixed Wing Aviation Unit;

--a Binational Transportation Unit;

--an Engineering Unit;

--a Force Military Police Unit;

--a Flight Following Section;

--and other multinational and military staff of the Force
5. (SBU) These functions are carried out in Egypt at North
Camp, the MFO's largest installation and site of the Force
Commander's Headquarters, located in the northern Sinai at
el-Gorah; at the smaller South Camp, near Sharm el Sheikh;
and at thirty remote operational sites, including Sector
Control Centers (SCCs), Observation Posts, and Check Points
located throughout Zone C. Both North Camp and South Camp
are MFO facilities, not U.S. facilities, under the command of
the Force Commander. The MFO exists and operates
independently of the embassies of the contributing states and
is not under the oversight of either the theater commander or
the U.S. or other Ambassadors in Cairo and Tel Aviv.

The U.S. Contingent

6. (SBU) The MFO's Civilian Observer Unit (COU),
established on April 25, 1982, is the only MFO element
present in all four zones and the chief unit in charge of the
MFO core mission of verification, observation, and reporting.
The unit currently consists of fifteen members, all of whom
are U.S. nationals. Roughly half are seconded from the U.S.
Department of State; the other half are hired directly by the

7. (SBU) The United States Army provides the largest
contingent to the MFO based at both North and South Camp.
The U.S. contingent consists of the U.S. Infantry Battalion
(USBATT) and the U.S. Support Battalion (SPTBATT), in
addition to Task Force Headquarters. U.S. Forces are under
administrative control of Third Army United States Army
Central (ARCENT), but on deployment they are under
operational control of the MFO.

8. (SBU) CENTCOM provides Force protection support for the
MFO with Rome oversight, the result of an MOU signed between
CENTCOM and the MFO in 1998. The U.S. Battalion does not
respond or send reports to MFO Headquarters in Rome. It
sends reporting through its chain of command, to MFO
Headquarters at North Camp. The Force Commander, Major
General Roberto Martinelli, is the conduit for all reports,
including violations. Rome is the right place to ask
questions about violations.

9. (SBU) Task Force Headquarters is comprised of 27 U.S.
soldiers, mostly officers and senior NCOs. They are assigned
to key leadership positions on the Force Commander's staff,
including personnel, operations, logistics, medical,
engineering, communications, force protection, safety, and
aviation. Many of these personnel are dual-hatted and also
serve a staff function for Task Force Sinai (TFS), the
internal U.S. headquarters organized to provide command and
control to all U.S. soldiers assigned to the MFO. The senior
American in the Force serves as Chief of Staff (COS) and also
commands TFS. The MFO COS (who is also U.S. TFS Commander)
is Col. Tim Parks (USA). Col. Parks will guide your visit,
coming down from MFO Headquarters at el Gorah (North Camp) to
take charge of the visit in Sharm. Col. Parks directs all
staff actions within the Force and answers for the Force in
the Force Commander's absence. As TFS Commander, Col. Parks
has been centrally-selected for brigade command in the US
Support Battalion and the US Headquarters Contingent. The
Chief of Support is also an American Colonel and is
responsible for the timely and effective logistical support
to the entire force. The Operations Officer manages the
day-to-day execution of the MFO mission.

10. (SBU) USBATT occupies the southern sector of Zone C and
observes and reports activity, in accordance with the Treaty
and its Protocol. USBATT is also responsible for the
operation and security of South Camp. From January 2002 to
the present, the Army National Guard has provided the
infantry battalions. Arkansas, Oregon, Oklahoma, Iowa,
Michigan and New Jersey provided the first six infantry
battalions. A battalion from the California National Guard
assumed the mission in January 2005 and was the first unit to
execute the mission for a full 12 months. The Texas National
Guard provides the current Task Force; Puerto Rico will
follow in January 2007. USBATT has been cut back in recent
years to about 425 personnel. Col. Parks will explain where
the U.S. Battalion operates--and generally they are deployed
from Taba to Sharm. There is very little exposure to the
Israeli border.

11. (SBU) SPTBATT, consisting of approximately 235
personnel, provides logistical, aviation, medical and dental
and explosive ordinance disposal support to MFO. SPTBATT
provides direct logistical support to all eleven continents
within the MFO at both base camps and all remote sites

MFO Cairo

12. (SBU) You'll have the opportunity to meet Norm St.
Pierre, MFO Director General Larocco's official
representative in Cairo to the Egyptian government. MFO
Cairo deals with treaty issues, finance, security, and
conducting MFO's day-to-day business with Egyptian government
offices. MFO Cairo also maintains liaison with local
embassies of the MFO's Participating Donor States and serves
as a contact for local press.

Recent Terrorist Attacks

13. (SBU) You'll also be briefed on how MFO has responded to
terrorist attacks in the region. On April 26, 2005, a suicide
bomber targeted an MFO Liaison vehicle 11 km north of North
Camp by detonating a device while an MFO vehicle, carrying 2
MFO personnel (from Norway and New Zealand) and two Egyptian
officials, passed. There were no injuries.

--------------------------------------------- --
Monitoring the Egyptian Border Guard Deployment
--------------------------------------------- --

14. (SBU) In September 2005, the MFO undertook to monitor
the Egyptian Border Guard deployment along the Egyptian side
of the border between Egypt and Gaza. Egypt's decision to
create a new Border Security Force of 1,000 trained and
well-armed personnel troops for the Gaza border provided
Israel with the confidence necessary for it to depart Gaza at
that time. MFO's mission, its first new role since the its
original responsibilities were defined, is to verify the
border guard deployment is consistent with the Treaty.

15. (SBU) Egypt remains fully engaged on Gaza security
issues since Israel's withdrawal of troops and settlers from
the Gaza Strip last September. Egypt has improved its
capacity to prevent cross-border smuggling into Gaza, and has
worked to faithfully implement the November 15, 2005
Agreement on Movement and Access - brokered by Secretary Rice
- that provided Gazans an international border outside Israel
for the first time since 1967. Egypt also plays a unique and
activist role in dealing with Palestinian political and armed
factions, including efforts to broker a cease-fire with
Israel and to resolve the crisis sparked June 25 when an
Israeli soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian militants.

Domestic politics

16. (SBU) After a period of substantial political reforms,
the late 2005 parliamentary elections ended in violence, over
a dozen deaths, and widespread allegations of fraud and
ballot box manipulation. Although NDP candidates won 360 of
444 seats, Muslim Brotherhood candidates won 88 seats and
thereby established a more open platform from which to attack
the Mubarak regime and its policies favoring Arab-Israeli
peace and close cooperation with the U.S. Mubarak's elected
term expires in 2011. There is much public controversy over
perceptions that Mubarak is aiming to establish his son Gamal
as his successor. Both President Mubarak and son Gamal deny
such plans. A series of incidents, including harassment of
opposition activists and crackdowns against political
demonstrations have called into question the GOE's commitment
to political reform. But the GOE is working on a package of
constitutional amendments, said to slightly redistribute
powers among the branches of the government and also to
facilitate the enactment of anti-terror legislation based on
western models. It is too soon to tell if these measures
will advance a meaningful reform process.

© Scoop Media

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