AUSTIN, Texas - After four decades of peace, Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the Texas adjutant general; Rep. Michael McCaul; Barakat Elleithy, the minister plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt; and Livia Link-Raviv, consul general of Israel in Houston, commemorated the signing of the Egypt-Israeli Peace Agreement and creation of the Multinational Force Observers.
During the past decade, the Texas National Guard has built a partnership with Egypt as they contributed Soldiers to five rotations to the MFO mission. Most recently, Egypt formally joined Texas in the State Partnership Program.
"Today is about honoring the sacrifices and commitment of Egyptians, Israelis, and Americans that have ensured an enduring peace and secured prosperity for so many in the region," Norris said. "We want to continue to build on the success of the MFO mission as we enter a new era of partnership with Egypt in the State Partnership Program."
During the ceremony, a citation of the Congressional Record honoring the continued efforts to maintain peace in the region and a U.S. flag were presented to the Egyptian and Israeli representatives.
"After three decades marked by war, Egypt and Israel made the courageous decision to trust each other and embrace peace," McCaul said. "For 40 years, the MFO have helped ensure the lasting success of this agreement. I am thankful to those who committed themselves to the critical mission of the MFO and maintaining peace: Egyptians, Israelis, Americans, and other member states who contribute troops and resources."
As the relationship between Texas and Egypt continues to grow, both agree the newly signed partnership offers new ways of furthering peace and prosperity in the region.
"Markedly, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17th, 1979, was a paradigm shift, not only for the Middle East region but the global politics as well," Elleithy said. "Brokered by the United States, the peace treaty ended decades of antagonism and agony in the region, paving the way to other countries to join the genuine endeavors to embrace peace. Moreover, it established the strategic partnership between Egypt and the U.S. that proved to be crucial for the stability of the Middle East throughout the time. The partnership between Egypt and Texas signed two months ago is merely a step ahead to expand the Egyptian-American relations to further horizons."
The MFO, consisting of soldiers from 14 countries, supervises the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employs best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.
"As the consul general of Israel to the Southwest, I am honored to take part in this important ceremony commemorating the formation of the Multinational Force and Observers, a clear example of a successful peacekeeping operation, enabled by the continued multilateral cooperation between Israel and Egypt," said Link-Raviv. "The state of Israel is grateful for those who have served in support of the MFO mission, such as the Soldiers of the Texas National Guard. Today, we celebrate 42 years of peace and emphasize The state of Israel's dedication to maintaining prosperity and stability throughout the region."
As the commander of the 112th Cavalry during its rotation in the MFO, Lt. Col. Gabriel Simonds said working with the Texas Military Department's state partner benefited both nations.
"Working with our Egyptian partners was one of the most rewarding and developmental experiences of my career as a commander and Soldier," Simons said. "As strategic partners, we worked Soldier-to-Soldier at the tactical level to accomplish the mission. That partnership between Egypt and the Texas Military Department contributed to a secure environment while enhancing our readiness as Citizen-Soldiers."
In addition to the continued support of the MFO, Texas and Egypt are planning future exchanges as part of the SPP. Those exchanges will center on equipment used by both forces, like the C-130 Hercules aircraft, the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets, and the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
As the partnership develops, planners for both forces say they expect cooperative training opportunities in cyber defense, logistics, Special Forces, homeland security response, and military support to civilian authorities.
"We look forward to continuing the legacy of successful partnership the MFO and Texas have had," Norris said. "The MFO has shown for 40 years what can be accomplished when solid partnerships are formed, and I expect more great things to happen as we grow our relationship with Egypt in the State Partnership Program."