U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph L. Votel visited Lebanon today as part of a multi-stop tour of the Middle East. General Votel met with Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Jean Kahwagi and other key leaders of the Armed Forces. He also observed Lebanese marine commando exercises at Amchit military base. During his meetings with the LAF, General Votel reaffirmed the Lebanese-American partnership in countering the threat of terrorism and reiterated the United States’ long term commitment to supporting the LAF in its role as the sole defender of Lebanon.
General Votel made the following remarks to press from Amchit:
“Good afternoon. I’m very pleased to be back here in Lebanon. The partnership between our countries is a strong and a very important one.
In April, I observed the G2 Strike Force and Rangers conduct a hostage rescue demonstration and was very impressed. Today, I observed the Armed Forces’ marine commandos in action and was equally impressed. As I have heard repeatedly from American military trainers here, the Lebanese Armed Forces are second to none. Their skills, professionalism, dedication to duty, and commitment to defend their country are unsurpassed. Whether through cooperating in joint military exercises – like the recent Resolute Response 2016 exercise – or through the delivery of weapons and equipment that serve to further enhance the capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces, America is proud to support Lebanon’s brave military members who risk their lives every day to keep this country safe.
The LAF continue to do an extraordinary job in confronting extremist threats arising from across the Syrian border. The Force has demonstrated to enemies and friends alike that they are strong, fully capable of defending Lebanon’s borders, and have the support of the Lebanese people. The will and commitment of the LAF to protecting Lebanon only strengthens America’s resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Lebanese partners as we confront these threats together.
The LAF is a strong institution, and America has been and will continue to be the army’s steadfast and foremost security partner. The U.S. has provided over $1.4 billion dollars in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces since 2005. That includes critical training and equipment, such as the $50 million in Humvees, weapons, and ammunition delivered to the Army earlier this month at the Beirut Port. We continue to work closely with the LAF to ensure that the equipment being delivered is exactly what is needed to counter the extremist threat and ensure Lebanon’s long-term stability. We look forward to our continued collaboration and to further strengthening our enduring partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces in the days ahead. Thank you.”