Extending Command over Lebanon’s Territorial Waters
The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Navy has taken on more operational tasks in the central and northern sections of Lebanon’s territorial waters. This is part of the long-term goal of transferring tasks that UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force is currently responsible for to the Lebanese authorities.
For two months, MTF units and peacekeepers from the Naval Equipment and Training Center of UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force intensively trained, supported, and evaluated LAF Navy personnel at the Navy’s operations center. The operations center, known as “C1”, is located in Beirut’s Naval Base, right next to the capital’s port. Upon successfully completing this two-month assessment period, the LAF Navy is now taking over the Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) command for the central and northern sections of Lebanon’s territorial waters.
“Maritime interdiction operations” is the process of monitoring and hailing vessels to help prevent weapons and related material from entering Lebanon. Since 2006, these operations in Lebanon have been coordinated by one of the patrolling UNIFIL MTF ships. As of now, the LAF Navy will monitor two-thirds of the country’s territorial waters and coordinate UNIFIL MTF ships to conduct hailings at sea in that area. The overall responsibility of monitoring and securing Lebanon’s territorial waters remains with UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force, as per Security Council Resolution 1701.
To honor this milestone, Maritime Task Force Commander Rear Admiral Michael Busse of the German Navy presented certificates of excellence for outstanding achievement by LAF Navy personnel over the past few months, commending the LAF Navy for its tenacity and progress.
More cooperation and training is planned to reach the ultimate goal of transferring responsibility for maritime interdiction operations for UNIFIL’s entire Area of Maritime Operations (AMO) to the LAF Navy at C1. Germany has been in command of UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force since 2021 and operates the Naval Equipment and Training Center, which works closely with LAF Navy personnel to achieve this goal.
UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force is the first naval force to be part of a UN peacekeeping mission. It was deployed since October 2006 upon request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces Navy in securing its territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.