Defense Secretary Ash Carter has had “formal communications” with Egypt and Israel to notifying them that the U.S. is reviewing its role in the Multinational Force and Observers.
Washington (Talk Media News) – The U.S. is looking to automate its longstanding peace-keeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has notified Egypt and Israel that the U.S. is reviewing its role in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) which may involve removing troops from region, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said. The contingent monitors compliance with the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which followed brief wars between the nations in 1967 and 1973.
About 700 U.S. troops are in the region fighting Islamic State militants also known as ISIL or ISIS, Davis said.
“I don’t think anyone is talking about a full-scale withdraw. We are just looking at the number of people we have there to see if there are functions we can automate,” Davis said.
“We know that ISIL is active in the Sinai. It’s a situation there that has risks, and we want to make sure we’re addressing those risks appropriately,” he said.
Davis said the mission has changed very little since its inception 37 years ago, and the military is looking into “ways to apply our modern technology to automate or apply remote sensors.”
The review is part of an ongoing effort to look at how to modernize the MFO, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday.
“Whether and how significant a force reduction that will entail I can’t speak to at this point in time,” Toner said.
“In no way does it speak to a lessening in our commitment to the objective of the MFO mission,” he added.
The ISIS branch in the region, known as Wilayat Sinai, has grown in recent months. It claimed responsibility for the Oct. 31 downing of a Russian passenger plane that killed 224 people and has targeted U.S.-allied Egyptian forces.