U.S. security assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is a key component of U.S. policy towards Lebanon and aims to strengthen Lebanon’s sovereignty, secure its borders, counter internal threats, and disrupt terrorist facilitation. Key areas of cooperation include border security, maritime security, defense institution building, arms transfers, and counterterrorism.
The LAF has historically served as a pillar of stability in a country facing extraordinary challenges, including the presence of the terrorist group Hizballah. The U.S.-LAF partnership builds the LAF’s capacity as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty. Since 2006, U.S. investments of more than $2.5 billion in the LAF enabled the Lebanese military to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Lebanon, carry out operations against al-Qa’ida, and expand control over Lebanese territory along its border with Syria. U.S. security assistance has also enabled the LAF to increase its presence in southern Lebanon to coordinate with the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701.
In FY 2020, the United States provided $216 million in combined Department of State and Department of Defense (DoD) military grant assistance. This included $105 million in Foreign Military Financing, $3 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET), and $108 million in DoD-authorized funding.
Since 2014, the Department of State provided Lebanon with nearly $19 million for IMET. More than 6,000 members of the LAF received training in the United States since 1970, including 204 members in FY 2020. IMET provides professional military education and training to foreign 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. Through the PKO-funded Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP), the United States is providing advisory assistance to enhance curriculum development in strategic planning at the LAF Fouad Shehab Command and Staff College.
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 secure the country’s borders and conduct counterterrorism operations. In December 2017, DoD announced a $120 million assistance package to provide the LAF with a close air support capability that will include six MD-530F+ light attack helicopters valued at $94 million, six Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles valued at $11 million, three Huey II transport helicopters with door guns valued at $31 million and additional support equipment, communications, electronics, and night vision devices valued at more than $16 million. The overall package will enable the LAF to operate with internal joint fire support. Additional programs have provided 130 armored High Mobility
Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) valued at more than $45 million, as well as 100 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs) and Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMMTs) to support the LAF’s combat logistics capabilities.
The U.S. government has $1.83 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Lebanon under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant prior sales include: M1152 HMMWVs, A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, Huey II helicopters, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, and TOW 2A anti-tank missiles. The full complement of six A-29s was delivered in June 2018.
Since 2016, the United States also authorized the permanent export of more than $78 million in defense articles to Lebanon via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS cases in Lebanon include military electronics, fire control/night vision, and ammunition/ordinance.
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 programs, from delivery through their employment and eventual disposal. The LAF continues to comply fully with all EUM reporting and security requirements.
The United States Interagency Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Task Force provides training on MANPADS recognition and threats to aviation security, border security, and defense personnel working on the front lines to fight illicit weapons proliferation. Since 2019, the MANPADS Task Force has provided MANPADS recognition and interdiction training to 34 Lebanese security officials.
The United States has invested more than $82 million in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) activities in Lebanon since 1998 and is currently the country’s largest donor in this effort. This includes emergency assistance to the LAF in the wake of the August 2020 Beirut port explosion. Our assistance has enabled our partners to clear dangerous hazards deliberately emplaced by ISIS to harm civilians along Lebanon’s border with Syria, remove explosive hazards along the Blue Line, in North Lebanon, and in Mount Lebanon, and provide crucial physical security and stockpile management upgrades to ammunition depots for the LAF. Further information on the U.S. CWD program is documented in this separate Fact Sheet.
The United States conducts the annual bilateral military exercise RESOLUTE UNION (formerly Resolute Response) with the LAF. Through this and other engagements the United States has trained more than 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.