On December 13, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard and the Commander of United States Central Command General Joseph Votel met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Defense Yaacoub el-Sarraf, and Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces General Joseph Aoun, and visited the Lebanese Military Academy to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership and support the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon.
After their meeting with the Prime Minister, Ambassador Richard and General Votel announced three new U.S. Department of Defense programs of assistance to continue to build the LAF’s capability to conduct border security and counterterrorism operations. These programs are being funded through the Department of Defense’s “Building Partner Capacity” program and are together valued at more than $120 million. The first program will provide the LAF a rotary wing close air support capability through delivery of six new MD 530G light attack helicopters and associated equipment and training, valued at more $94 million. The second program will provide the LAF additional command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities through the delivery of six new Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles and associated equipment and training, valued at more than $11 million. The third program will provide the LAF additional capabilities to employ joint fire support and close air support through the delivery of communications equipment, electronics equipment, night vision devices, and training, valued at more than $16 million. The announcement of these programs reaffirms the U.S. Government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership and support of the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon.