In the days leading up to the 2013 Egyptian military coup, the military convinced several nations, including the United States, to increase their deployments in the Multinational Force of Observers (MFO), the international peacekeepers in the Sinai Peninsula. The coup led to an immediate military offensive in Sinai, leaving the MFO troops stuck in the middle.
The MFO is nominally to monitor the peace between Israel and Egypt, but since the two nations are thick as thieves since the coup there’s really no need, and rather the focus is on Egypt’s junta fighting against an Islamist faction in Sinai, which has became an ISIS affiliate.
Today, the US troops in Sinai suffered their first casualties, when four of them were wounded in an IED blast in Sinai. Two other MFO members from an unknown nation were wounded in a separate blast, and the Pentagon suggested the US troops were sent out to rescue the other two.
Pentagon officials said they are growing increasingly concerned about the worsening security situation in Sinai, and say they might have to take “additional measures,” including deploying more and heavier weapons, to keep their troops safe.
Absent in all the Pentagon talk about their deployment in Sinai is that it serves no practical purpose. The MFO was created when Israel and Egypt were making the first tentative moves toward peace, but now the two nations are close allies, and the MFO seems primarily to be a way for Egypt to suck other nations into their internal problems.