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Cablegate: Lebanon: Army Makes Humanitarian Demining A

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLB #0953 1831226
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011226Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2376
INFO RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/USCENTCOM SPECIAL HANDLING MACDILL AFB FL

C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 000953

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2018
TAGS: LE MARR MAS MCAP MOPS PGOV PHSA PM
SUBJECT: LEBANON: ARMY MAKES HUMANITARIAN DEMINING A
PRIORITY

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4(
a) and (b)

1. (C) Summary. Charge and Office of Defense Cooperation
Chief visited three Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) sites on 30
June, including the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC), the
LAF Engineer Regiment, and the Mine Detecting Dog unit. The
purpose of these visits was to publicly demonstrate the scope
of U.S. support to humanitarian demining in Lebanon --
approximately $10 million since 2006 -- and to inspect the
equipment purchased through the Department of State's PM
Bureau Weapons Removal and Abatement Program, currently
executed by Dyncorp Corporation. End Summary

2. (C) At the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC), the Charge
met with Brigadier General Mohamed Fehmi. To date, U.S.
funding has assisted in clearing 4,092,569 square meters of
land returned to productive and safe use, with an additional
789,803 square meters of land scheduled for clearance. The
Government of Lebanon GOL) contributes $5.5 million per year
to the LMAC budget. BG Fehmi discussed the need for increased
future funding for victim assistance related to landmines and
unexploded munitions. The LMAC plans to expand the scope of
its responsibilities by opening an LMAC office, funded with
the assistance of State/PM and Dyncorp in Nabatiyeh in
southern Lebanon. This office will be fully mission capable
by January 2009 and is one component of a broader GOL plan to
assume full responsibility from the United Nations for the
humanitarian demining mission in Lebanon by then. Fehmi also
discussed the importance of accurate and complete "strike
data" from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in regard to the
2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict.

3. (C) The Charge next visited the LAF Engineer Regiment and
met with its Commander, Colonel Roland Abou Jaoudi. The
Colonel briefed the capabilities and mission of his unit via
a five minute film and then guided the Charge through a
static display of his unit's diverse array of humanitarian
demining equipment to include about one dozen new trucks --
such as Ford Superduty F250s, Toyota Landcruiser Ambulances,
cargo vans, Ford Explorers, and Ford F150s -- out of a total
of 62 trucks of various types that the USG has provided to
the LMAC and Engineer Regiment. Abou Jaoudi also discussed
the upcoming resumption in August 2008 of the U.S. NAVCENT
maritime demining engagement that is surveying the multiple
munitions sites in Lebanese territorial waters, the scope of
which has yet to be determined. Abou Jaoudi also discussed
the importance of the LAF acquiring armored bulldozers for
future military operation in urban terrain. The Charge'
observed one LAF bulldozer with "field expedient" armor with
Nahr al Barid battle damage, which included holes in the
armor plating from projectiles. (NOTE: Embassy has requested,
through USCENTCOM, four D9 Armored bulldozers via FY-08
"Tranche Four" 1206 funding. END NOTE.)

4. (C) At the last site of the visit, the Hammana Base in the
mountains above Aley, the Charge observed a training
demonstration of the LAF's mine detecting dogs in a live
minefield. She also inspected their training facilities and
kennel, which has recently been refurbished by U.S. funds
executed and supervised by Dyncorp. The dogs are acquired and
initially trained by NGO donations, notably the Marshall
Legacy Institute, and further trained and maintained by LAF
soldiers. This LAF program began in 2001 and periodically
receives new dogs to replace those dogs who are retired due
to age.

COMMENT
------

5. (C) U.S.-supported demining in Lebanon has been very
successful. The Lebanese Armed Forces have been cooperative,
technically proficient and grateful for U.S. support.
Continued USG demining efforts help improve the image of the
U.S. in southern Lebanon, the area hardest hit during the
2006 Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Charge's June 30 visit to
review U.S.-funded demining programs received widespread,
positive media coverage on July 1. End Comment.
SISON

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