The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) continues to receive US military support, with US Gen. Joseph Votel announcing new arms packages
for Beirut under the Pentagon's “Building Partner Capacity” program. Three procurements are being financed through the BPC scheme, totalling $120 million, and aim to build the LAF’s capability
to conduct border security and counterterrorism operations. The first program will see six new MD 530G light attack helicopters and associated equipment and training, valued at more $94 million. The second program, costing $11 million, will boost C4ISR capabilities with six ScanEagle UAVs, while the third will provide the LAF additional capabilities to employ joint fire support and close air support through the delivery of communications equipment, electronics equipment, night vision devices, and training, valued at more than $16 million.
A number of countries are stepping up to fill those gaps, left in a military ravaged by foreign occupation, a long and losing civil war, and the presence of Hizb’Allah – a foreign-backed private army in Lebanon, with superior firepower. The battle for influence in that country is multi-polar, with countries including the USA, France, and Saudi Arabia moving to counter Syria and Iran’s proxies, and countries like Russia working with independent agendas. The USA has been supplying a wide range of equipment from ammunition to armored vehicles, and is adding tanks, mini-UAVs, and even patrol boats to that list. Belgium has worked to sell some of its own tanks and APCs, France has offered help with Lebanon’s existing French equipment; and in April 2009, Russia went so far as to offer MiG-29 fighters, for free, from its own stocks.
What capabilities would these systems bring? How are those sales going? And how is Lebanon itself changing, in the wake of both Hezbollah’s takeover and Syria’s civil war?