Today, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard H. Jones marked America’s delivery of three Huey II helicopters to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) at the Beirut Air Base. This latest delivery of U.S. military assistance, valued at $26 million, supports the modernization of the Lebanese Armed Forces airlift capacity and improves its ability to quickly and efficiently transport reinforcement troops to protect remote areas along the border, from extremist threats. With the addition of these three helicopters to its fleet, the Lebanese Army now possesses nine Huey II multi-mission helicopters provided by the United States. Brigadier General Manuel Kirejian, Director of the LAF Logistics Brigade, represented LAF Commander Jean Kahwaji.
Following are Ambassador Jones remark, as prepared for the event:
Good morning Brigadier Gen. Manuel Kirejian, representing LAF Commander Jean Kahwaji, members of the Lebanese Armed Forces, distinguished guests. I’m pleased to be here today to mark the latest delivery of U.S. equipment to the Lebanese Army – the arrival of three Huey II helicopters. These helicopters, valued at over $26 million, demonstrate America’s continued commitment to support the modernization of the Lebanese Armed Forces’ airlift capacity. They significantly expand the Army’s aerial capabilities and range, and improve the Lebanese Army’s ability to quickly and efficiently transport reinforcement troops to remote areas of tension along the border in support of the Army’s fight against terrorists and extremists. With the addition of these three helicopters to its fleet, the Lebanese Army now possesses nine Huey II multi-mission helicopters provided by the United States.
Today’s delivery demonstrates America’s sustained commitment to ensure the Lebanese Armed Forces has the support it needs to be the sole defender of Lebanese territory. This is a long term commitment. Since 2004, America has provided over $1.3 billion in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, including both training and equipment. We have no plans to slow down or alter that level of support. In fact, America has also recently delivered an additional weapons system for Lebanon’s fixed-wing aircraft fleet as well as more ammunition requested by the Lebanese Army.
I want to state clearly that the Lebanese-American security relationship has never been stronger than it is today, due to its strong foundation of partnership and shared values. The United States has absolute confidence in the Army’s commitment, determination, and capacity to defend Lebanon and defend the Lebanese people against terrorist threats. This is why the American people are providing you with the weapons and munitions that you have requested, on an expedited basis. Just as the Lebanese Army is continuing to defend Lebanon, you can count on America to continue to support the LAF’s needs.
I would also like to salute you, Lebanon’s soldiers. You are the brave men and women who work to keep Lebanon stable and secure from external, extremist threats on a daily basis. Time and again you and your comrades have shown your willingness to pay the ultimate price to defend your homeland. Sadly, this month two of your comrades were killed in action. We grieve for their loss and hope that their families may take some solace in the knowledge that they died as heroes serving a noble cause. Their and your dedication and professionalism are fundamental to Lebanon’s continued stability. Thank you for your service to your country and for your defense of Lebanon’s founding principles and values.
Taeesh as-sidaqa al-lubnaniya el-amrikiya w aish Lubnan!