Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Friday ended his visit to Washington where he said U.S. officials expressed great support to Lebanon’s military needs in facing the challenges at its eastern border.
He received pledges from senior U.S. officials for further aid to the military that could reach up to $400 million.
The army leader said in remarks published locally on Friday that he “saw great understanding of our logistic and military needs.”
He told An-Nahar newspaper that the U.S. is aware of the tough challenges threatening Lebanon’s security, saying that it “highly regards the efforts exerted by the Lebanese Army to protect the eastern border and maintain calm along the southern border.”
“We wanted the U.S. to accelerate its delivery of equipment that we already bought,” which include six fighter aircraft (Super Tucano A-29), Hellfire air-to-surface missiles (ASM), logistic support and a training program for Lebanese pilots, Kahwagi said. These equipment are being funded by a Billion Dollar grant by Saudi Arabia.
The army commander also revealed that talks are underway to purchase new helicopters.
Kahwagi met with prominent U.S. officials, such as Elissa Slotkin, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Antony Blinken, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, and several others during his visit.
He expressed relief over the U.S. military and political support for Lebanon, hoping that it would translate into action by “increasing the aid to the army in the upcoming years.”
Since 2004, the United States has provided over $1.3 billion dollars in military assistance to the Lebanese Army and Internal security forces including both training and equipment.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged during a meeting for the International Support Group for Lebanon held in New York in October last year that his country would double the amount of military assistance to the Lebanese Army.