By Adriane ElliotJuly 17, 2018
The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) continues to deliver foreign military sales materiel and services to Lebanon as the Middle East nation continues its fight against ISIS.
USASAC's most recent delivery included eight Bradley Fighting Vehicles, along with hundreds of 40mm automatic grenade launchers and 155mm laser-guided artillery shells. The delivery was a strategic boost to the Lebanese Armed Forces' arsenal and supported its counterterrorism battle on the nation's Syrian border.
While this latest multimillion dollar delivery was a significant provision, it was just the most recent in a long-term, security assistance partnership that began decades ago. And since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.S. government has pledged to Lebanon well over $1 billion in assistance for relief, recovery, rebuilding and security.
"The United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, and to help preserve the partner nation's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," USASAC CENTCOM Deputy Director Conrad Bonner said.
As evidence, Bonner quoted the State Department declaration that "the United States, along with the international community, supports full implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701, including the disarming of all militias, delineation of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout Lebanon."
During a 2017 ceremony recognizing Lebanon's initial FMS delivery of Bradleys, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard said that "these Bradleys will provide LAF with new capabilities to protect Lebanon's borders and to fight terrorists," and that over the next several months, the LAF would undergo intensive training on how to operate and maintain the new, very sophisticated combat system.
Speaking from the Port of Beirut, she noted that "over the last few years, the United States has intensified its support to the Lebanese Army. I would just like you to review how in the past 12 months alone, the United States has provided the following defense articles to the Lebanese Army: 40 M198 howitzers; 50 armored Humvees; an armed Cessna aircraft with Hellfire missiles; 55 mortar systems; 50 Mark-19 automatic grenade launchers; 1,100 machine guns, including 800 50-caliber machine guns; 4,000 M4 rifles; over half a million rounds of ammunition; 320 night vision devices and thermal sights; and 360 secure communication radios.
The U.S. State Department posture for a stable Lebanon and a peaceful Middle East is supported by USASAC's core mission of "building partner capacity, supporting combatant command engagement strategies and strengthening U.S. global partnerships."
USASAC leads the Army Materiel Command's security assistance enterprise and supports Army readiness through foreign military sales, like the deliveries to Lebanon.
The command has a multibillion dollar portfolio of more than 5,400 FMS cases in more than 150 nations and agencies.
"Secretary of Defense James Mattis outlined threats to U.S. national security in his release of the unclassified version of the 2018 National Defense Strategy," Bonner said. "He called for a 'more lethal, resilient and rapidly innovating joint force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners.'"
"Diplomatic solutions will remain our preferred options, but we cannot deny the role of our military in setting the conditions for diplomatic progress," Mattis said while addressing an audience in Bahrain. "Military deterrence is only credible if the military strength is sufficiently formidable that allies can confidently align with us in tempering adversaries' designs. You need to make certain in this imperfect world that there is never any doubt on the part of our allies that you're with them, and the part of our adversaries that they really don't want to mess with us."
In another venue, Mattis described one of three "lines of effort" he wants DOD to pursue: "Existing alliances need to be strengthened and new partners found. History is compelling on this point: nations with strong allies thrive while those without stagnate and wither."
This decidedly pointed focus on partnership building is USASAC's core mission, and one that will continue to provide support to Lebanon and other nations who fight alongside the United States in the global war on terrorism.