The Office of the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State issued the following:
“On May 21, 2021, the US Department of State and the Lebanese Armed Forces held their first Defense Resourcing Conference. C.S. Eliot Kang, Senior Official for Arms Control and International Security, led the US delegation, while General Joseph Aoun, Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), led the Lebanese delegation. Other U.S. participants included Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mara Karlin, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security and Security Assistance Mira Resnick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs Aimee Cutrona, and representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The delegations explored ways to strengthen security cooperation and highlighted the importance of the US-LAF relationship during this virtual meeting. Participants celebrated the completion of a non-binding five-year security assistance roadmap that aligns expected annual US funding for the LAF with mutual goals in counterterrorism, border security, and defense institution building, allowing for better collaborative preparation for potential defense needs.
The delegations discussed the deteriorating economic, political, and humanitarian conditions affecting the Lebanese people and military. The U.S. Department of State renewed its commitment to the LAF by announcing $120 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Lebanon for fiscal year 2021, subject to Congressional notification procedures, representing a $15 million increase over prior-year levels. Lebanon is one of the largest recipients globally of U.S. Department of State security assistance.
The delegations also discussed ways to leverage the full range of authorities under U.S. law through which the United States can provide additional assistance to the LAF as it grapples with the economic crises in Lebanon. Earlier this month, for instance, the U.S. Department of Defense notified Lebanon of the planned transfer of three Protector-class patrol boats to the Lebanese Navy, which, upon delivery in 2022, will enhance the Lebanese Navy’s ability to counter external and regional threats, and protect freedom of navigation and commerce in the maritime domain.
The U.S. Department of State looks forward to reviewing progress on the U.S.-LAF partnership at the next Defense Resourcing Conference in 2022.”