Do you want the bad news or the worse news first? Reportedly, we are sending more than 400 soldiers to Egypt as “riot prevention” at the border of Israel. The Egyptian army has attempted to calm Egyptian concerns, in part by announcing the following:
“The 400 US soldiers coming to Egypt as mentioned in the media are part of the periodical renewal routine for the US faction of the 13-state multinational force deployed in Sinai since the peace treaty. They are not armed with military operations gear.”
If the soldiers were there to protect Americans from violence, I would have some positive feelings about their presence in Egypt. I don’t want a repeat of Benghazi. But how much can they really do without “military operations gear”?
The plan to send the troops seems based on the confidence that they will have to deal with riots and not much else:
“Training at Fort Hood for a nine-month deployment in the ‘near future’ concluded on June 20, KCEN-TV reports, noting that the soldiers encountered Molotov cocktails and ‘other dangerous items’ in their training. ‘Just what I’ve seen over the course of the past week, this unit is already far more ready for this type of threat than we were last week,’ Lt. Matthew Wilkinson told the television station. According to KDH News, the training lasted about six months. ‘We want to be as professional as possible so that whatever situation we may encounter, [so] the opposing force knows that we mean business and we know what we’re doing,’ said PFC Perez Alexander. Troops from 13 nations, including the 400 from the US, will man posts and security checkpoints along the Sinai Peninsula, report any peace treaty violations between Egypt and Israel, and be prepared to respond to threats.”
I understand that the Lieutenant believes they are ready for “anything,” but the items listed seem to clearly indicate he is thinking about possible kinds of riots they may have to deal with. What happens if a group of Jihadists, remembering how much fun their brothers had at Benghazi in Libya, get armed and commit a serious, organized military attack against our troops? I realize I have no special knowledge to second guess experts. But those same experts couldn’t stop Benghazi (or were prevented from doing so), so I think I have the right to ask.
My first reaction on reading about sending these troops is that Israel and Egypt should deal with their own border issues. However, past conflict led to a treaty that makes the Sinai area a kind of demilitarized zone. So “other nations” are expected to occupy and keep order.
But I still don’t like it. I agree with Rand Paul that we should stop sending aid to Egypt. And if we should stop the aid we shouldn’t put American lives at risk either.