A little bit about South Camp…

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!

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29 thoughts on “A little bit about South Camp…

  1. ZB

    Hows the A/C in the barracks? very important to me, haha

  2. Joseph Smith

    I like your blog and was surprised to see it up here. I am sure it will be quite helpful to a lot of those deploying over here. There are a few mistakes in this post though. The 1SG you refer to is actually 1SB and they are comprised mostly of National Guard as well. Avco, some Medco, and Task Force Sinai are primarily the active duty components of the US Forces here.

    • I think that was a typo… And yeah I later learned 1SB is national guard. Didn’t know that at first.

      I’ll fix it. 🙂

  3. joey

    How about a little more on the bars and alcohol policies? drinking ages? Does it change when you leave south camp into Egypt or Israel? Do they sell American beer? And any other info you find relevant. thanks

    • Good questions! The alcohol policies are completely up to your battalion and company commands. For example, the previous MFO was permitted to consume alcohol in Sharm. Even though we were told we’d be able to, we haven’t been. We’re not even allowed to consume alcohol in Sharm on LEAVE. Another example: previous MFO was allowed to have alcohol in the barracks; we’re not. It’s completely ridiculous if you ask me, but that’s how it is. Your units have complete control on when, how much and where you can drink. If your company commander decides he doesn’t want you to drink after 2300, then guess what? You can’t. I’ll put together a post with our current alcohol policy and some info about the bars in the next couple days to give you a better idea. But keep in mind that our alcohol policy is unlikely to be the same as yours and will probably change over time. Ours has gotten more and more restricted as time goes on.

  4. Wayne

    I am part of the upcoming unit to deploy there would love you recieve contact from you.

  5. Taysia

    How can I get more information? I’d like to know about internet and phone service there so that I can hopefully skype/ talk to my husband!

    • It’s all in my blog… Read back a few pages (older posts) and you’ll find what you’re looking for 🙂

      • Taysia

        Ok, I found it! Thank you! I am confused though because I thought I read there was free wifi but then I see a comment about purchasing an Internet card…so would someone need an Internet card there? Also, can you give me any more info about the DFAC and those who work there? This is an awesome info source, thank you so much!

      • There’s free wifi in some of the bars on camp, as well as the library. But depending on the duties of your husband he may not have access to those facilities for weeks at a time. Some of the OP’s have wifi, others do not. And the wifi is inconsistent there… Sometimes it’s fast, other times its as slow as dial up (making Skype impossible). The solution is to buy a 3G modem/wifi card that only he can use. I found that to work better and more consistently.

        What do you want to know about the DFAC specifically?

      • Taysia

        Well my husband is a cook so I’m just wondering if he will actually be cooking there..I guess he will find out once he gets there 🙂 should we purchase the Internet card here or does he buy it there?

      • It’s best to buy it there. Your husband is in an active duty unit right?

      • Taysia

        Yes, I’ve seen his unit mentioned on here. We live in TX! I appreciate all of the information!

      • No problem. Unless they’ve changed the way the mission works, he is unlikely to be cooking. But active units deploy somewhat differently from Guard units so I could be wrong. South Camp has a dining facility run by contractors, that will not change. But there other opportunities for a cook to work in his MOS in Sinai. Every OP cooks for itself, but we did not use Army cooks. Usually one person is designated from the fire team to cook – either permanently or on a rotating basis. If the deploying battalion can put a MOS’q cook in every single squad, then he may end up cooking. He could also do something along the lines of food and kitchen inspections. It’s all up to the Battalion.

      • Taysia

        Wow! I’m sure he won’t mind doing whatever! Thank you for your service and all the information! You have def cleared some stress for me about his deployment!

      • Glad I could help 🙂

  6. Judy West

    Thanks for all your info help….

  7. rcc

    How things have changed. My husband was assigned to the MFO 84-85. During the early staffing of the MFO, you were suposed to be guaranteed reassignment to your home base if you volunteered. Is anyone familiar with that, and if so, how did it work out?

  8. jim

    I’m part of a unit deploying there soon, how are the barracks ? 1,2,3 man rooms ?

    • Generally speaking when you’re at South Camp, E5 and up: 1 man room. E4 and below: 2 man. Some E4’s will end up with 1 man rooms. But when you’re out in sector (at OPs), it’s anywhere from 1 to 8 man rooms depending on too many factors to list here.

      • jim

        when at the OP sites, do they have any place to workout ? since we will be there for an extended period of time ?

      • Good question. Yes, all but one OP have workout equipment. Some OP’s are better than others, but generally speaking all have weights, a bench, enough area to do runs, etc.

      • jim

        awesome, thanks !

      • You’re welcome. Be sure to spread the word!

    • The barracks are OK. I think I wrote about them somewhere on this blog. When I left they were remodeling barracks trailers at South Camp. The good news is every room has an air conditioner and they work pretty damn good. When they break it SUCKS but they’re pretty quick to fix them (about 0-2 days)

      The barracks out in sector are not so great, BUT they have as good air as South Camp barracks.

  9. Jim Casper

    To all the soldiers there at south camp-thanks for the sacrifice. It looks a bit different from when I was there in the summer rotation of 1987. Back then Herb was there and kicking our butts in the gym and out in the water (when we could get down to the beach). As with any hardship tour, your time there will be what you make of it. I ran and biked around the perimeter fence constantly, and played ultimate frisbee out in the open field to the south of the gym (looks like there is a baseball field there now). Any way, enjoy the diving, Herb’s Beach and opportunity to be a part of history. My personal thanks for being there and continuing the tradition!

  10. jim

    Can you think of anything we might need that we can get now rather than later?

  11. cr griffin

    Southcamp….it was small, but Carter believed…..best free diving I have ever done and seen…….wish I was 19 out of 2wars again ,,,,,what a waist of anger……C 4/21 7th Id

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