Orange Berets

Orange Berets

Adventures and Misadventures in the Sinai

James “Doc” Crabtree

Jimmy Sinai Books, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 2015, 186 pages

Book Review published on: March 23, 2018

Orange Berets: Adventures and Misadventures in the Sinai begins with a brief history lesson of the Sinai Peninsula, from the early Egyptian pharaohs to the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. This lesson is interesting, but it really does not apply to the rest of the book. The book details the story of Maj. James “Doc” Crabtree, who was recalled to active duty from the Continental United States Replacement Center (CRC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula. The MFO enforces the 1979 Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel.

If you are looking for a book about the MFO and the day-to-day operations of the organization, this is not that book. However, if you have ever been deployed to a small unit in the Central Command area of responsibility as an individual augmentee, you can completely understand and relate to Crabtree’s experiences and wonderment. As the visits officer, Crabtree was responsible for escorting any visiting dignitaries or Armed Forces Entertainment shows. One of missions included escort duty for the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders (known as the Ben-Gals). He explains the trip from the pickup point at the Suez Canal to South Camp, where the 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery of the Kansas Army National Guard was assigned, to the North Camp and, finally, back to the canal drop-off point. The Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders also visited, but he successfully dodged that task and allowed a U.S. Army captain the pleasure of escort duty.

Crabtree was also responsible for press releases to international news agencies about events in the MFO area of responsibility. On 6 May 2007, a support aircraft operated by the French contingent crashed during an orientation flight while trying to conduct an emergency landing on a road. The crash killed one Canadian and eight French peacekeepers. During his tour, the MFO also lost two American soldiers in a vehicle accident near the U.S. battalion in the vicinity of the South Camp.

The book discusses some of the national idiosyncrasies of the MFO. The MFO consists of troops from Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the United States, and Uruguay. If you have ever worked in a combined or multinational force, you can understand all the nuances of this environment and the solutions to work together to get the work done. While reading this book, you can’t help but think about your personal experiences with deployments and some of the humorous events that occur on noncombat deployments.

Book Review written by: Boyd Plessl, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas