The Multinational Force and Observers is an international peacekeeping force with what can only be described as a singular mission: supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.
One of the key provisions of the Treaty of Peace Between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel was the establishment of peacekeeping forces in the Sinai Peninsul. Annex I of the treaty established four security zones, three in the Sinai in Egyptian territory and a fourth in Israel at the international border, and the Annex also placed limits on military forces and equipment that could be placed in each zone, thus requiring some type oversight.
A temporary solution was the U.S. Sinai Field Mission, which carried out these duties as the United Nations sought to establish a permanent peacekeeping force for the region. When the U.N. announced in May, 1981 that any efforts to create such a force would be blocked by a Soviet veto, the United States began working directly with Egypt and Israel to establish an independent peacekeeping force—the eponymous Multinational Force and Observers.
The culmination of these negotiations was the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace Between Egypt and Israel, signed by representatives of all three nations on August 3, 1981. Among the items stipulated in the initial Protocol was that the United States would contribute an infantry battalion, a logistics support unit, and a group of civilian observers, and that the U.S. would contribute one-third of the MFO’s operating costs.
In a March 26, 1982 agreement detailing further U.S. participation in the MFO, the U.S. announced that any enlisted personnel it contributed to the MFO would receive overseas pay starting at between $8 and $22.50 per month (dependent on grade); that married personnel would receive a separate maintenance allowance of $30 per person per month; that the subsistence rate the U.S. Army would bill the MFO would be the standard per person/per day rate of the U.S. Army; and that the budget for base operations would be calculated base on a rate of $50 per person per month.
The MFO Medal was established by the organization’s Director-General on March 24, 1982; it was accepted for wear by members of the Armed Forces of the United States and Department of Defense Personnel a little over four months later.
When the MFO Medal was established, personnel must have served with the MFO for a cumulative total of 90 days after the date of August 3, 1981 to be considered eligible for the award. The length of service was nearly doubled to 170 days in 1985, but note that time spent in service on behalf of the MFO outside the Sinai, as well as periods of leave a Servicemember takes while assigned to the MFO, count toward MFO eligibility. (On the down side, time may be subtracted for disciplinary reasons.) Second and subsequent awards of the MFO are indicated with a numeric device.
The 170-day minimum can be waived under several conditions: If a Servicemember is medically evacuated due to injuries incurred during Service or because of serious illness, the Servicemember is withdrawn from the MFO of its government for national-service reasons under honorable conditions, or if the Servicemember dies while serving with the MFO before 170 days have elapsed.