Before I get into South Camp, let me explain a few important things. There are 4 major contingents to the MFO mission: USBATT (National Guard), 1SB (1st Sustainment Battalion, National Guard), COLBATT and FIJIBATT. If you are USBATT you’ll be stationed and based out of South Camp in Sharm el Sheik. FIJIBATT and COLBATT are based out of North Camp up near Arish. 1SG is split between North Camp and South Camp. There are also much smaller contingents but I won’t go into any further detail due to OPSEC concerns and the fact that they don’t matter much to us. Bottom line: if you’re National Guard and deploying to Egypt, you’ll be at South Camp.
South Camp is located in the heart of Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. I won’t give you a google map link, but with a little intelligence you should be able to find it on Google Maps. Sharm el Sheik, or “Sharm” for short, is a resort city in southern Sinai. It’s main attraction is the Red Sea, which has world class scuba diving and snorkeling. There are literally hundreds of resorts in the Sharm area. Some small, some huge. Europeans, Russians and Israelis (as well as Egyptians) come to Sharm for vacation. There are several bays and beaches, as well as golfing, tours of Sinai, shopping, etc. Modern day Sharm is relatively young and saw dramatic growth of tourism after the Egyptian/Israel peace accords. MFO is partly responsible for the tourism growth of Sharm. We ensure a stable region which in turn ensures safe tourism. The vast majority of Egyptians in Sharm like (even love) MFO and the contingents. Not only are we one of the largest employers of Egyptian nationals, we add a lot to the tourism of Sinai.
Aside from similarities in architecture and landscape, Sharm is nothing like Iraq or Afghanistan. There are hundreds of bars, scantly clad women, and vices out in the open. Egyptians here have mostly western attitudes and views. As with any Arab country there are fundamentalists, but do NOT confuse them with terrorists. Al Qaida and every other major terrorist organization has no links to Southern Sinai. Past terrorism events are attributed to ongoing tensions between the Bedouins and the Egyptian Government. Although MFO is frequently affected by this conflict, it’s not necessarily about us. If anyone’s curious about the conflict, simply reply and I’ll explain the history and dynamics of it in a separate post.
South Camp is fairly large and located right on the Red Sea. We have our own private beach complete with sunbathing, coral reefs, snorkeling and kayaking. I’ll write a separate post on Herb’s Beach another time. We have a large dining facility that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For exercise we have a pretty decent gym with a full basketball court, racquetball courts, batting cage, a cardio room and a weight room. We also have a softball field and volleyball court. Beach volleyball! There’s also a barber shop ($2 haircuts!), a small PX, free laundry facility and a great library. Each of those will get their own posts. We also have our own outdoor movie theater that plays movies 1-2 months after they’ve been released in the states. You’ll also be happy to know there are 4 bars on camp, but I’ll get into that another time.
The barracks on South Camp quite frankly suck, unless you’re an O-3 and above (or 1SG and above). They’re pretty old… I’m guessing they were originally constructed sometime in the 80′s or very early 90′s. All the rooms have their own air units and free MWR Internet (Ethernet). I’ll write a thorough post on Internet/phone/cellphone communication another time. There an ATM on camp that dispenses US Dollars and Egyptian pounds; I’ll write a separate article on money and finance another time.
For those of you who like to ruck and run, you’ll be happy to know there’s plenty of space for all that. There are 2 miles courses and with a little ingenuity you can make your own 4 or 6 mile courses.
Well that’s it for now on South Camp! As always, if anyone has any questions feel free to ask. I’ll answer them so long as the answer doesn’t violate OPSEC!