NC National Guard troops to deploy to Sinai Peninsula
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
RALEIGH, N.C. — About 430 North Carolina National Guard soldiers will deploy to the Sinai Peninsula in December on what the military says is the first peacekeeping mission there for guard soldiers from the state since the signing of the peace accord in 1979.
The guard will hold farewell ceremonies this weekend for the five units that make up the 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment as they leave for additional training at Camp Atterbury, Ind.
The 5th Battalion will head to Sinai in early December and return home in September 2013.
The 5th Battalion includes about 100 members of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, based in Louisburg, whose farewell ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday in the Louisburg College Auditorium, 501 North Main Street.
Other units in the 5th are Battery A, based in High Point, Battery B, from Winston-Salem, Battery C, based in Greensboro, and the 732nd Forward Support Company out of Reidsville.
Guard spokesman Capt. Matthew Boyle said the deployment had been scheduled for many months and is not a response to recent violence in the Sinai.
Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty settling their mutual claims over the peninsula in 1979, ending more than 30 years of fighting there.
Israel withdrew its forces and civilian settlers, and Egypt agreed to let Israeli ships through the Suez Canal on the west side of the Sinai Desert.
The U.S. and 10 other countries provide peacekeeping troops that serve in Sinai under Multinational Force and Observers, an independent international organization created in 1981 by an agreement between Israel and Egypt.
More recently, the area has been the scene of increased militant and terrorist activity since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, including numerous bombings of a gas pipeline running between Egypt and Israel.
In August, armed men attacked an Egyptian military base on the peninsula, killing 16 soldiers and stealing two armored cars.
They drove the vehicles through a border crossing into Israel, where one of the vehicles exploded and the gunmen got into a firefight with Israeli soldiers.
Over the past three decades, Sinai has become a popular tourist destination.
But the U.S. State Department has warned of an increase in the kidnapping of foreign tourists in the region since January and says that “the danger of overland travel in the Sinai is significant.”