Lebanon Pursues Military Training
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
Anticipation is in the air as six Soldiers crouch in silence with weapons poised outside a sealed building. Three of them are from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and three are peacekeepers from the French contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). At the signal, the Lebanese trio moves toward the door. On the whispered count of “three,” one of them yanks it open. Immediately they enter the room to search and secure it. Once they confirm it is clear, the trio of French peacekeepers enters the building and secures the next room.
This Urban Combat exercise was part of a January 2017 joint training between UNIFIL and LAF. On a break between repeats of the drill, LAF 2nd Lt. Samer Harar elaborated: “We, in the 5th Intervention Regiment, came here to train with UNIFIL’s French contingent on carrying out raids — securing houses and streets. This training will help us a lot when we enter houses to rescue hostages if they are held inside and to apprehend terrorists anywhere they are, whether inside houses or out in rugged areas.”
Behind him, a mixed group of Lebanese and French Soldiers discussed the exercise. Harar smiled as he watched the interaction. “They are teaching us theoretical things, and we have also studied operational things. This means they are also gaining from our experience, which we have implemented on the ground,” he said.
The Urban Combat exercise was just one part of the weeklong joint training between the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL’s French contingent. Another training session covered vehicle maintenance. Wearing mechanics overalls, LAF 1st Lt. Khalil Hajj Diab said, “When we return to our positions, we will disseminate the expertise we have gained and train our Soldiers in a better way.”
In 2006 the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 1701 to foster peace and stability in south Lebanon. One of the key aspects of this resolution is that UNIFIL supports Lebanese Armed Forces operations in south Lebanon. The capacity of both the LAF and the UNIFIL peacekeepers is enhanced through joint training.