DoD Exploring Sinai Drawdown
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 20, 2001 The U.S. government is looking at possibly reducing or eliminating American participation in the peacekeeping force in the Sinai, Pentagon officials said April 19.
Currently, 865 American soldiers are deployed to the area.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had discussed the possibility of reducing U.S. troop levels to the mission during discussions with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on April 3 and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on March 19.
Quigley said this was in keeping with President Bush's campaign pledge to examine "U.S. troop stationing around the world in a variety of scenarios, to take a look at where they might be reduced."
Quigley told reporters the entire U.S. national security team had discussed the proposal, but not to look for any decision soon. Any pull-out or reduction must be agreed to by Egypt and Israel and will be done in consultation with the other 11 nations providing troops to the peacekeeping force.
Officially called the Multinational Force and Observers, the force is an outgrowth of the 1979 Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. U.S. forces have been in the area since April 25, 1982. Congress has capped the total U.S. troop participation at 1,200.
Units deploy to the Sinai for six months. The 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, from Hawaii will rotate out in May and be replaced by a unit from Fort Drum, N.Y.