Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert Karem invited Gen. Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, to Washington, District of Columbia, to co-chair the U.S.-Lebanon Joint Military Commission on June 26-27.
The two nations reaffirmed the partnership between our militaries and our shared objectives of maintaining regional stability and security, countering terrorism, and building the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as the sole defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
In his opening remarks, Karem commended the LAF for its recent successes in maintaining security and stability within Lebanon and expanding its control of Lebanon’s borders.
In August 2017, the LAF launched its largest offensive in almost a decade and expelled the last strongholds of ISIS and al-Qa’ida from Lebanese territory. The LAF also increased its presence throughout Lebanon, with a focus on increasing control over Lebanon’s border with Syria. In Southern Lebanon, the LAF has increased joint border patrols with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission.
Since 2006, the United States has provided security assistance to the LAF, with a focus on transforming the LAF into an organization that is capable of executing complex military counter-terrorism operations, defending Lebanon’s borders, fulfilling Lebanon’s international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and becoming the sole guarantor of Lebanon’s security and sovereignty. To this end, Karem announced a new package of assistance for the LAF to improve its mobility and logistics capabilities, including the procurement of 100 up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), logistics trucks, and associated communications equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training.
Karem’s delegation included U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard and senior defense officials from U.S. Embassy Beirut, along with representatives from the Joint Staff, U.S. Central Command, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Department of State.