Since the beginning of time, Lebanon has been considered the crossroads of the ancient world along with the modern one. The country has not only been inhabited, but it was also defended by countless different empires.
Those empires were once considered either natives or invaders depending on the timeline. Thus, after finally gaining its independence, the Republic of Lebanon officially founded its army which is known as the Lebanese Armed Forces.
The Army’s Missions and requirements
Since its foundation, the army’s main aim is to uphold the internal security, peace, and stability of Lebanon. The army also is involved with several kinds of relief operations. These coordinations usually consists of collaborations with other public and humanitarian institutions. Moreover, The army forces act as a neutral bystander in the face of any form of confession or radical political dissensions taking place in the country.
Furthermore, the Lebanese army is in charge of confronting any form of external and internal issues that could threaten vital national interests or security. Though in the case of conflict, they should remain as neutral as possible. Moreover, they always must comply with regional and international politics via adopting a systematic and strategic defensive stance.
Also, as a member of the Arab League, the army is responsible for coordinating with other Arab armies as a means of following the ratified treaties and agreements. The army may also engage with national interests that include social and development activities as a means of unifying the nation and aspiring confidence.
Besides, the LAF is tasked with facing the current Israeli occupation and breaches taking place in both South Lebanon and West Bekaa. Furthermore, they are entrusted with ensuring the Israeli’s complete withdrawal to the internationally recognized borders and out of the country.
The Lebanese Army official sphere
The army’s influence reaches over the whole officially acknowledged territory of the Republic of Lebanon. However, even in spite of that, the army doesn’t hold a “monopoly over the use of legitimate acts of violence”. Thus, even though the militia Hezbollah controls a certain area of the sovereign territory, they do somehow have a legitimate right, that doesn’t contradict the LAF policies, to exercise such control.
On the other hand, many argue that the army is using an avoidance strategy to uphold cooperation, while others believe that the situation only creates a “duopoly” on legitimate violence. However, through the years the coexistence of the two armed entities has turned into the new norm, even despite their spatial proximity. The division of spheres of influence is not geographical but defined by each of their roles respectively.
In addition to national support, the army has some other international allies aiding him in case of a crisis. since the mid-1990s, the United States has been an ally of Lebanon while supplying it with light artillery, transportation means, and other means of support. Moreover, as an Arab League member, Lebanon has the support of Saudi Arabia who recently granted the country 3 billion dollars.
Also, France is one of the most valuable allies of the Lebanese army. The country was responsible for the formation and training of non-commissioned officers and officers throughout the years. Also, France has conducted a $3 billion-worth arms deal with the Lebanese army recently.
Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, United Kingdom, Iran, and Syria are all considered allies who helped the Lebanese army on several occasions and through varied means.
History & Politics
In the past, and some argue also in the present, the Lebanese army has always maintained a confessional balance. Not a decade after its founding, the country suffered the tragedy of a bloody civil war. During the crisis, the army proved to have a weak military institution. Thus they failed miserably in their methods to ease tensions between the different Lebanese communities. they also were unsuccessful in preventing the various outbreaks of violence and the creation of armed militias.
Moreover, the army failed again in its attempt to reconstruct and strengthen its unity during the invasions of both the Israeli and Syrian armies.
Following the 1990 Taif Agreement the army, the army was restructured once again to its current form. The restructure mainly aimed to achieve a confessional balance where national integrity and patriotism prevails. Thus, in 1974 the conscription policy was implemented though it only entered into force years later in 1993. However, in 2007, the policy was put to a halt.
In 2006, the army gained a sort of momentum after the successful withdrawal of Syrian and Israeli troops. The short Israeli war was considered won by the Lebanese side though at a high and bloody price.
The Lebanese Army’s structure
Lebanon’s Armed forces are divided into three main branches which include ground forces, air forces, and the navy.
Moreover, each of these forces is divided into certain structures. Thus, the Structure of the ground forces is divided into 5 Regional Commands, 11 Mechanised brigades, 5 Special Forces regiments, 1 Republican Guard brigade, 1 Commando regiment, 1 Airborne regiment, 1 Navy Commando regiment, 2 Artillery regiments, Combat Support units. Moreover, the combat units include Medical Services, Support brigade, Logistics Brigade, Military police, and Independent work regiments.
Furthermore, the current army structure still mirrors the confessional system upheld in Lebanon. This means that the army can only consist of a Maronite Army Commander, Druze Chief of Staff, along with a military Council encompassing the Army Commander. Furthermore, the Chief of Staff and 4 generals should represent the Sunnis, Shi’a, Greek Orthodox, and Greek Catholics respectively.
Lebanese Armed Forces. (n.d.). Civil Society Center. https://civilsociety-centre.org/party/lebanese-armed-forces-laf-0lebanese army. (n.d.). Lebanese Army. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/enMembers ordered by country code. (n.d.). RIPE Network Coordination Centre. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https://www.ripe.net/membership/indices/data/lb.laf.html