ARCHIVED - Canadians help safeguard peace between Egypt and Israel

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Article / July 3, 2015 / Project number: 15-0005

El Gorah, Egypt — The Sinai Peninsula, located in Egypt, has experienced an increased level of unpredictability in recent years. Those deployed on Operation CALUMET have witnessed the evolution firsthand.

Operation CALUMET is the name of the Canadian operation in the Sinai Peninsula in support of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), an independent  civil-military peacekeeping mission established in 1982 as an annex to the 1979 treaty signed by Egypt, Israel and the United States. The MFO’s mission is to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace by following the “observe, verify and report” process. Twelve countries currently have military members assigned to the mission while other nations make a financial contribution.

Canada has been an active contributor to the MFO since 1985. Task Force El Gorah, the Canadian contingent deployed on Op CALUMET, consists of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel from the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Task Force provides mainly staff positions in the MFO, including the MFO’s Force Commander, Force Sergeant-Major and Chief of Liaison of the MFO. “Canadians are well integrated into all the branches of the MFO,” said Colonel Stéphane Boivin, the Canadian Task Force Commander, listing the liaison, operations, support, and information communication technology branches as key areas for his members.

We have people on the engineering side of the house and people on the logistics side in terms of food officer, vehicle fleet management and people in training. In fact, Canada is leading the training cell for the MFO. And we also have people in the protocol and visit cell, which ensures exposure to senior officials from all around the world,” said the colonel. “We’ve got our fingers in everything in the MFO.

In March 2015, a Canadian Military Police Unit joined Op CALUMET to serve as the MFO’s police force, including the Chief of Police. Although a recent addition, the unit is fully integrated into Op CALUMET. “We’re trying to make sure it’s all meshed together so there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them,” Col Boivin said, noting that with the addition of the Force Military Police Unit, the number of Canadians has more than doubled from what it was.

Coming from a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, Canadians are a good fit for the international mission. Asked what strengths the CAF offers the MFO, Col Boivin replied: “Like any mission outside of Canada, you know, it is about culture and understanding each other. We are leveraging members who have other languages and abilities because of the multicultural aspect of the MFO.

We’ve got a good reputation and the reason is quite simple: our folks come over here with great values,” said Col Boivin.

For our Canadian peacekeepers, these values enable them to take an active part in the MFO’s mission, which is mainly verification of compliance with the 1979 treaty. The treaty divides the Sinai Peninsula into four zones and stipulates which party may have a military presence in each zone. Click here for a map of the four zones (English only).

Americans, as the third party to the treaty, make up a civilian body called the Civilian Observation Unit (COU). “The COU goes on missions across the Sinai every week to verify there’s compliance with all of the agreed activities,Col Boivin said. The COU is allowed to go anywhere in the four zones. The MFO military force is restricted to Zone C, and is the only military force allowed in that area in addition to the Egyptian police.

For more information on the MFO, please visit the MFO website at http://mfo.org/ (English only).

By Gerry Weaver, Army Public Affairs

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