The United States and Lebanon are working collectively toward the common goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Middle East. Lebanon is also a vital U.S. partner on a wide range of regional security issues. The United States works with Lebanon to increase cooperation on border security, maritime security, defense institution building, arms transfers, and counterterrorism.
Lebanon has been an active partner in Global Coalition operations against Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and their regional and global affiliates. The United States is Lebanon’s top security partner. Both share the goal of building the Lebanese Armed Forces’ (LAF) capacity as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty. Lebanon’s state security institutions, particularly the LAF, have historically served as pillars of stability in a country facing extraordinary challenges.
U.S. security assistance for the LAF is a key component of our policy to reinforce Lebanon’s sovereignty, secure its borders, counter internal threats, and build up its legitimate state institutions. Additionally, U.S. security assistance supports implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701, and promotes the LAF’s ability to extend full governmental control throughout the country in conjunction with the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Since 2010, our more than $1.82 billion security assistance investment in the LAF has paid significant dividends. U.S. support for the LAF has enabled the defeat of ISIS in Lebanon, reasserted control over Lebanese territory along its border with Syria, and increased its presence in southern Lebanon in support of UNIFIL.
Since 2015, security assistance has averaged $224 million annually, in the face of the Syrian civil war and its spillover. In FY 2019, the United States provided over $221 million in combined Department of State and Department of Defense (DoD) military grant assistance. This includes $105 million in Foreign Military Financing and $3 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET), $103 million in DoD-authorized funding, and other funding sources.
Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has provided Lebanon with $16 million for International Military Education and Training (IMET). Over 1,875 members of the LAF have received training in the United States, including 113 members in FY 2018. IMET provides professional military education and training to military students and is key to establishing lasting relationships with future leaders. IMET courses increase military professionalization, enhance interoperability with U.S. forces, offer instruction on the law of armed conflict and human rights, provide technical and operational training, and create a deeper understanding of the United States.
Since the August 2014 attack in Arsal by ISIS and the Al Nusra Front, the United States has provided the LAF with aircraft, vehicles, weapons, and other equipment to help keep the country’s borders secure and conduct counterterrorism operations. In December 2017, the Department of Defense announced a $120 million assistance package to provide the LAF with six MD-530 light attack helicopters valued at $94 million, six Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles valued at $11 million, and communications, electronics, night vision devices to enable joint fire support and close air support valued at more than $16 million.
The U.S. has $894 million in active government to government sales cases with Lebanon under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant prior sales include: A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, Huey II helicopters, and AGM-114 Hellfire and TOW 2A missiles. The full complement of six A-29s was delivered in June 2018.
Since 2014, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $139 million in defense articles to Lebanon via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Lebanon include: military electronics, fire control/night vision, and aircraft. In addition, Lebanon has been a reliable recipient of DCS as evidenced by their 100% favorable rate on Blue Lantern end use monitoring checks, well above the global average of 75%, with 3 favorable compared with 0 unfavorable Blue lantern checks.
The U.S. is the largest donor to conventional weapons destruction (CWD) programs in Lebanon, providing more than $20 million since 2014 to enable the clearance of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) across the country, including explosive hazards laid by ISIS and other violent extremist groups in northeast Lebanon. This support continues to play a vital role enabling economic activity in previously inaccessible land and increasing civilian security. CWD assistance also bolsters the LAF’s capacity to manage munitions, preventing diversion while maximizing the LAF’s battlefield readiness and combat effectiveness.
The Departments of State and Defense continue to work closely to support the provision of training and equipment that Lebanon needs. We applaud the LAF for its resolve in confronting violent extremists and will support its ongoing efforts as it combats this shared threat and protects the Lebanese people. Since the protests in Lebanon began on October 17, 2019, the LAF has worked tirelessly to provide security and protect protestors, balancing the demands of many Lebanese to keep roads clear with support for the right of the Lebanese to peacefully protest.
With Lebanon, as with other allies and partners around the world, the United States conducts end-use monitoring (EUM) to mitigate the risk of unauthorized transfer or use of U.S. technology and equipment. EUM is used to verify the end-use, accountability, and security of defense articles, services, and training provided under grant-based assistance and FMS sales programs, from delivery through their use and eventual disposal. The LAF continues to comply fully with all of its EUM reporting and security requirements.
The United States conducts the annual bilateral military exercise Resolute Response with the LAF. Through this and other engagements the United States has trained over 32,000 Lebanese troops.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.