Don Spinks - The Sinai Desert: First deployment

Running time
2 min 53 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


My first deployment occurred in 2004 and it was to the Multinational Force, an observer peacekeeping operation in the Sinai Desert, a part of Egypt, between Egypt and Israel, and it's a monitoring force there of the 1979 Camp David Accord, not a UN mission, but 20-odd nations agreed to provide a peace monitoring force between the Arabs and the Israelis, basically. And it was a six and a half, seven-month rotation for me… So , 20, 25 ADF members.

During my time they were all army. The CO of the contingent had a 12-month post and the rest cycle through on a three-month split rotation. So your six months was your nominal time for deployment, but they'd split it half so that you had continuity on the ground…I was the Australian service contingent RSM, as well as the force training warrant officer. So dual hat.

National role was regimental sergeant major, mission role was the force training warrant officer… I spent a lot of time on the international border, or the IBL, International Border Line, mainly where the northern part of the Sinai butts up to what was then Gaza, as in the border. It has since changed. The circumstances there had changed. But in the northern part of that International Border Line, quite hostile, and certainly I saw plenty of kinetic activity, so tanks, aircraft strikes, helicopter strikes.

One of our posts in the north was accidentally engaged by the Israelis, so quite a lot happened. And we would go down to the border line to investigate violations of the treaty. So a little bit happening, but back in the bases there was not a lot. That picked up post my time where the terrorists certainly blew up a mail van at one stage, which scared or gave some excitement to the Canadians who were operating the mail van.

But it did escalate. We actually had a bomb detonate at the Taba Hilton, which is down the southern end of the peninsula, which the force had quite a number of people staying in there at the time and there were quite a number of injuries as a result of that explosion. So, lot's happening. It certainly wasn't a Pacific Island retreat. Things were happening all the time.

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