U.S. security assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is a key component of U.S. policy in Lebanon and aims to strengthen Lebanon’s sovereignty, secure its borders, counter internal threats, disrupt terrorist facilitation, and build up the country’s legitimate state institutions. 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 billion in the LAF enabled the Lebanese military to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Lebanon and carry out operations against Al Qaeda and reassert control over Lebanese territory along its border with Syria. It has also allowed the force 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 2019, the United States provided $218 million in combined Department of State and Department of Defense (DoD) military grant assistance. This includes $105 million in Foreign Military Financing, $3 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET), and $110 million in DoD-authorized funding.
Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State provided Lebanon with $12.86 million for IMET. Over 6,039 members of the LAF received training in the United States since 1970, including 310 members in FY 2019. 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-530G 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. government has $1.4 billion 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 United States 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 percent favorable rate on Blue Lantern end use monitoring checks, well above the global average of 75 percent.
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 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 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 development 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 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.