National Guard unit based in Lenoir heading to Egypt

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 04:08 AM

A local National Guard unit will soon ship out to the Middle East to be part of a Multinational Force and Observers deployment.

About 70 members of the 630th Combat Sustainment and Support Battalion, headquartered in Lenoir, will head to Egypt as part of a peacekeeping operation put into place after the Camp David Accords were signed by the United States, Israel and Egypt in 1978. The MFO is a group of international peacekeepers based in the Sinai Peninsula assigned to make sure that both Israel and Egypt are within treaty provisions regarding the number of forces arrayed on either side of the border.

Lt. Col. Greg Bunck said the mission is not to project force but to help ensure calm and compliance of the terms of the treaty.

“We’re not rolling in Humvees and doing all that,” said Bunck. “It’s kind of low-visibility, under the radar. When you go outside the (forward operating base) and you’ve got all these weapons pointed everywhere, it sends a message. We’re not trying to send that message. This is a peacekeeping operation.”

It’s also an operation that many aren’t familiar with, which is just fine with the soldiers who will take part in it.

“The major population, they’ve never heard of MFO or didn’t even know this existed over there,” said Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Johnston. “We want to keep it like that. We want to go in and do our observing and come home.”

Once the unit deploys, Victoria Klinger’s mission begins. She’s part of the unit’s Family Readiness Group, a liaison between the deployed soldiers and their families. Klinger said it’s her job to make sure the soldiers don’t have to worry about potential family issues while they’re away so they can stay focused on the tasks at hand. The FRG offers families everything from emotional support and stability to minor repairs around the house. The unit also will have homefront support from Hudson VFW Post 5381.

Bunck said the unit will handle medical and veterinary care, postal and financial service as well as aviation maintenance and mortuary affairs while it's overseas. Additionally, there will be an explosive ordinance disposal unit assigned to the battalion, which will also distribute food, fuel, ice and water in the theater of operations.

Bunck pointed out that the mission and the MFO are not part of the United Nations, and he added that the concept is one he thinks could be effective in other parts of the world where peacekeepers are needed.

“It’s working and really is probably a model for a lot of other places in the world that need peace,” he said.