Country Listing

Lebanon Table of Contents



After the 1982 Israeli invasion, President Amin Jumayyil, convinced that a strong and unified army was a prerequisite to rebuilding the nation, announced plans to create a 12-brigade 60,000-man army, equipped with French and American arms and trained by French and American advisers. In addition, he planned to increase The Internal Security Force to a strength of 20,000. But because the Lebanese Army could muster only about 22,000 men in 1982, the government decided on November 24, 1982, to impose the Law of Service to the Flag, a conscription law first enacted on the eve of the Civil War but never implemented. The conscription law mandated one year of military service for eligible males. Additionally, some 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers who were acting as aides to officers were transferred to combat units. As part of a shake-up in the command structure, gaps in rank between officers and soldiers were narrowed. In December 1982, long-time army commander General Victor al Khuri was retired and replaced by General Tannus. At the same time, about 140 field-grade officers were purged from the ranks through forced retirements. Many, including the oncepowerful military intelligence chief Johnny Abdu, were dispatched to diplomatic posts abroad. Hundreds of new appointments were made on a nonsectarian basis.

The United States was instrumental in helping the Lebanese government rebuild the armed forces. In 1982 the United States proposed a Lebanese Army Modernization Program to be implemented in four phases. The first three phases entailed organization of seven full-strength, multiconfessional army brigades, created from existing battalions. The fourth phase focused on rebuilding the navy and air force. The total cost of the first three phases was estimated at US$500 million. The United States pledged to pay US$235 million of this sum, with the Lebanese government paying the balance.

Initial progress was rapid. A new tank battalion equipped with M-48 tanks donated by Jordan was established. A new supply depot was built at Kafr Shima. About 1,000 vehicles, including hundreds of M-113 armored personnel carriers, were transferred from the United States to Lebanon. And at one point, new recruits joined so rapidly that not enough uniforms could be found to outfit them.

Lack of effective military leadership, however, remained the Achilles heel. United States experts were aware of this problem and devoted considerable attention to solving it. A cadre of Lebanese lieutenants was given infantry officer basic training in the United States. A team of eighty United States military advisers, including fifty-three Green Berets, provided officer training in Lebanon. Furthermore, Lebanese officers were attached to the United States MNF contingent for training in military unit operations.

Nevertheless, the Lebanese Army disintegrated in the 1983-84 battles in the Shuf Mountains (see Israel Defense Force Withdrawal and the Mountain War , this ch.). Shortly after the MNF withdrawal in February 1984, precipitated in part by the eviction of the Lebanese Army from West Beirut by militia forces, the United States Congress slashed military matériel credits given to the Lebanese government from the 1983 level of US$100 million to US$15 million for 1984. In addition, the training grant was cut from US$1.8 million to US$800,000. And in late 1984 the United States decided to suspend further transfers of military matériel to Lebanon.

Data as of December 1987