Month-long training enhances LAF-UNIFIL interoperability
The soldiers from the Lebanese Army crouch behind a burnt-out car. Smoke flares diminish the visibility and the sound of gunfire is pervasive. They make hand signals to proceed. A soldier sprints forward to the next position. One by one his unit follow him. They kick down the doors to search a building for weapons and explosives. They enter in rapid formation - and confirm it is clear.
This urban combat training is just one aspect of a month-long training between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and UNIFIL’s Italian peacekeepers. The training took place recently in the Chawakeer training area in Tyre, south Lebanon, home to the LAF’s 54th Tank Battalion.
Lt. Col. Giuseppe Tempesta, from UNIFIL’s Italian Battalion, says they have been providing regular training to LAF since the beginning of their mission in south Lebanon in accordance with resolution 1701.
“This allows us to improve our standard operational procedures,” he says. “But more importantly it allows us to increase our mutual understanding and mutual trust, in order to achieve our common objective which is peace in south Lebanon.”
The course used a centralized approach and the activities were planned jointly with the LAF training staff and UNIFIL teams. This resulted in more personnel participating and an increased number of activities being covered concurrently throughout February 2019.
About 240 Lebanese soldiers took part. In addition to courses in Fighting in a Built-up Area (FIBUA), the participants also covered Study of Mission, Patrol Formation and Observation Post set ups. The separated training areas provided the capacity to conduct individual military activities such as basic combat training, military obstacle course, live-fire and self-defense. UNIFIL peacekeepers trained alongside the LAF personnel, contributing to mutual respect and interoperability among the units.
First Lt. Baker Al Jawad, from the Lebanese Armed Forces, elaborates, “The Italian peacekeepers clearly benefited from the experience that we have acquired in the live battles that we had fought previously.” Adding that it will increase the LAF’s military readiness, he says: “This training will benefit us in our daily work, whether in terms of carrying out raids or daily joint patrols with UNIFIL.”
Background to joint trainings with LAF:
In 2006 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 to foster peace and stability in south Lebanon. This resolution forms the core of UNIFIL’s mandate, and a crucial element of this mandate is to support and strengthen the capabilities of the LAF in south Lebanon. The capacity and interoperability of LAF soldiers and UNIFIL peacekeepers is enhanced through joint trainings such as this.