Tactical Lessons For Peacekeeping:
U.S. Multinational Force In Beriut
SUBJECT AREA - Foreign Policy
Title: Tactical Lessons for Peacekeeping: U.S.
Multinational Force in Beirut 1982-1984.
Author: Major Ronald F. Baczkowski, USMC
Research Question: Were the Marine Amphibious Units (MAUs)
employed in Beirut, Lebanon from August 1982 to February
1984 properly trained, equipped, and organized to conduct
peacekeeping operations? If so, were there tactical reasons
for the 24th MAU's failure? What are the tactical lessons
learned for future peacekeeping forces?
The U.S. Multinational Force (USMNF) operated in
Beirut, Lebanon from 25 August 1982 to 26 February 1984.
During this period four different MAUs served as
peacekeepers. The USMNF was initially successful; but, as
the strategic and tactical situations changed, the
peacekeepers came increasingly under fire. On 23 October
1983, a lone terrorist destroyed the headquarters building
of BLT 1/8, killing 241 Marines and sailors and wounding
over 100 others.
This study examines the tactical situation and how it
changed. It analyzes how the training before employment may
have assisted or prevented the tactical-level forces from
operating effectively. It examines both positive and
negative lessons learned through critical analysis. It
provides many details concerning the actual tactical
situation so the reader can conduct his or her own critical
analysis and come to their own conclusions.
MAUs can be used in peacekeeping operations if the
mission is carefully defined, the situation is fairly
constant, and the operation is relatively short duration.
By extension to their modern equivalents, forward-deployed
and rapid-deployment combat forces can also be used in
peacekeeping operations under the same conditions. These
type forces have the equipment, personnel, and discipline
required to conduct short duration peacekeeping operations.
However, peacekeeping operations are normally
decentralized and are conducted in a constantly changing
environment over a long duration. Under these conditions,
forward-deployed units lack the specialized training and
education necessary to conduct peacekeeping operations.
Combat forces, which are not trained in peacekeeping theory
and tactics, are restricted to operate in a predictible
set-piece pattern as directed by their higher headquarters.
This pattern creates a vulnerability in the peacekeeping
force that can be exploited by parties hostile to the force.
Additionally, when faced with unfamiliar stressful
situations combat forces, which are not specially trained
for peacekeeping, tend to respond as they would in
conventional combat and not the way they should respond in
peacekeeping. Excessive force makes the peacekeepers a
party to the conflict instead of a neutral third party.
If forward-deployed combat forces are the initial
rapid-response force committed to peacekeeping operations,
they should be replaced by specially trained peacekeeping
forces as soon as possible.
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. SETTING THE STAGE 10
Was This Peacekeeping?, 22
What Was Peacekeeping?, 27
3. MNF I 43
Peacekeeping Training, 49
4. MNF II 68
Peacekeeping Tactics, The Tools, 78
Unused Tools, 95
5. COMPARISONS AND CONCLUSIONS 123
Similar But Different, 124
How Different?, 129
LIST OF TABLES
1. USMNF Phases 20
2. Sequential List of Significant Events 76
3. MAU Commander Continuity 85
Tactical Lessons for Peacekeeping:
U. S. Multinational Force in Beirut 1982-1984
At approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 October 1983, the
Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Headquarters building in
the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) compound at Beirut
International Airport was destroyed by a terrorist
bomb. This catastrophic attack took the lives of 241
U. S. military personnel and wounded over 100 others.
The bombing was carried out by a lone terrorist.1
The spectacular loss of life at so little cost to
terrorists led to two separate investigations concerning the
security of the U. S. Multinational Force (USMNF) positions
in Beirut before the end of 1983. The U. S. Department of
Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport
Terrorist Act, also known as the Long Comission, focused on
the force's ability to operate in a terrorist environment.
Among its findings it concludes "that the USMNF was not
trained, organized, staffed, or supported to deal
effectively with the terrorist threat in Lebanon."2 The day
before the release of the Long Commission report, the U. S.
House of Representatives' Investigations Subcommittee
published a separate report, which focused on the adequacy
of Marine security.3 While both reports conclude the
security of the tactical-level forces was inadequate at the
time of the bombing, they focus primarily on measures taken
to protect against the specific-threat of terrorism. They
pay little attention to the other aspects of the
In an interview conducted almost five months before the
terrorist attack, the MAU Commander, Colonel Timothy J.
Geraghty, stated the greatest threat to the USMNF was
terrorism.4 Tactical-level commanders recognized the
possibility of a terrorist threat and took what they
considered appropriate action against this threat. However,
they also had to consider many other factors besides
terrorism while carrying out their mission. The Long
Commission came close to recognizing these other factors in
That although it finds the BLT and MAU Commanders to be
at fault, it also finds that there was a series of
circumstances beyond their control that influenced
their judgment and their actions relating to the
security of the USMNF.5
Tactical-level commanders misjudged the relative importance
of terrorism as a factor as compared to other factors
affecting their mission.
Since the release of the Long Commission report, the
USMNF in Lebanon has been studied from many different
perspectives. The U. S. Naval War College uses the Beirut
failure as a case study to analyze national and strategic-
level decisionmaking.6 The commitment of U. S. military
force and subsequent catastrophe receive credit in part for
the development of the Weinberger Doctrine that outlines the
criteria for the use of U. S. military force in a crisis.7
Several analyses conducted by students at the U. S. Army
Command and General Staff College and U. S. Naval War
College examine the USMNF's performance from the perspective
of operational art.8
The one thing all these analyses have in common is that
they focus on higher-level decisionmaking. This emphasis is
understandable given Clausewitz's concept that "[w]ar is a
continuation of politics by other means."9 Failed strategy
will never achieve political objectives whereas
tactical-level failure may still result in strategic success
if the strategy is sound. While the Long Commission and
House Subcommittee's reports highlight the reality of
terrorism at the tactical-level, most of the lessons learned
about peacekeeping have been at higher levels. Small-unit
tactical lessons about peacekeeping have received little to
Ironically, battalion-sized units are the most likely
units to get involved in future peacekeeping operations.
Furthermore, the latest developments in communications
technology link tactical-level activities more closely than
ever to the strategic-level10 as government, public, and
military leaders see tactical-level developments at the same
time. With the recent increase in peacekeeping operations,
tactical lessons learned from past operations are receiving
more and more attention. Unfortunately, at the
tactical-level, the tendency is to over-simplify lessons
learned from the USMNF and focus primarily on force
As a result of this tendency and the previous
high-level focus of analysis, many complex and subtle
tactical lessons learned from the USMNF are being lost. The
latest U. S. Army manual on the subject, FM 100-23 Peace
Operations, uses seventeen "historical perspectives" to
reinforce its points, but not one example is from the
USMNF.12 While some of the lessons learned by the USMNF are
in this manual, they are "disguised" as text appearing more
like a list of "do's and don'ts." The USMNF experience in
Beirut provides numerous examples that illustrate the "why"
of peacekeeping, not just the "how."
Peacekeeping has some general principles, but every
operation must accurately account for its own unique
circumstances. The complexity, diversity, and unique
characteristics of peacekeeping operations warrant detailed
analysis to get an appreciation for the challenges facing
peacekeepers. The Marines and commanders of the USMNF
operated in a confusing environment under numerous
restraints while executing a mission, which even today is
not a primary mission nor fully understood. Over a period
of eighteen months, thousands of decisions were made by four
different MAU commanders, five different BLT commanders, and
over 5,000 individual Marines and small-unit tactical
leaders.13 Even though some decisions ultimately can be
linked to the bombing of the BLT Headquarters, many good
tactical-level decisions were made. The thought and
rationale behind those decisions offer numerous lessons to
future peacekeeping forces. Furthermore, while some
decisions contributed to the loss of life and failure, those
decisions were made with the thought that they were the best
decisions given the situation and resources available at the
time. Hindsight allows perfect judgment of past decisions.
However, valuable lessons can be learned by analyzing
decisions made by members of the USMNF with consideration
for the situation as it existed at the time.
In all likelihood forward-deployed forces will be
thrust into future peacekeeping roles. They will also be
faced with making decisions in complex, unfamiliar
situations. We can understand this dilemma by examining the
thought process of those individuals tasked with the
tactical-level decisions for the USMNF operations in
Lebanon. This paper will examine the USMNF's tactical-
level decisions and actions in Lebanon from 1982 to 1984
through critical analysis.14 It will examine if the MAUs
participating in MNF peacekeeping operations were organized,
trained, and equipped properly to conduct peacekeeping
operations. It will examine the tactics and procedures used
and evaluate their effectiveness. Finally, it will draw
conclusions as to the feasibility of using forward-deployed
or rapid-deployment combat forces in peacekeeping
1 U. S. Department of Defense, Report of the DOD
Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act,
October 23, 1983, 20 December 1983 (Washington, DC:
Government Printing Office, 1983), 32. Here after referred
as Long Commission Report.
2 Long Commission Report, 141.
3 Congress, U. S. House of Representatives,
Investigations Subcommittee, Committee on Armed Services,
"Adequacy of U. S. Marine Corps Security in Beirut," 98th
Cong., 1st sess., 19 December 1983.
4 Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, 24th MAU Commander in
Beirut, Lebanon, interview by Benis M. Frank on 26 May 1983.
Here after referred to as Geraghty I.
5 Long Commission Report, 91.
6 David Hall, "Lebanon Revisited," case study, National
Security Decisionmaking Department, The United States Naval
War College, Newport, Rhode Island.
7 John F. Hillians III, "U. N. Collective Security:
Chapter Six and One Half." Parameters. U. S. Army War
College Quarterly, 25 no. 1 (Spring 1994) 34.
8 A list of these papers is contained in the Bibliography
under Unpublished Theses. Most are available through the
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). While these
papers were not quoted extensively in this study, they
provide valuable insight on the subject at the strategic and
operational levels. As such, they were instrumental in
deciding on the level of focus for this paper and its
9 Carl Von Clausewitz, trans. and ed. Michael Howard and
Peter Paret, On War (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1976), Book One, Chapter 1, 87.
10 William W. Allen, Colonel, USA, Antione D. Johnson,
Colonel USA, John T. Nelson II, Colonel, USA. "Peacekeeping
and Peace Enforcement Operations." Military Review 73, no.
10 (October 1993) 55.
11 John P. Abizaid, Colonel, USA, John R. Wood, Colonel,
USA. "Preparing for Peacekeeping: Military Training and
the Peacekeeping Environment." Special Warfare 7, no. 2
(April 1994) 17.
12 Principles and considerations for peace operations
contained in FM 100-23 are often reinforced with historical
examples illustrating the specific principle discussed in
text. These examples are type-set in special gray frames
and are labeled "Historical Perspective." In addition to
the specially type-set historical examples, the writers of
FM 100-23 frequently refer to specific peace operations but
never mention the USMNF.
13 The MAUs rotated to and from Beirut in the following
order: 32d MAU, 24th MAU, 22d MAU, 24th MAU, 22d MAU.
Colonel James Mead commanded the 32d and 22d MAUs, the other
three MAUs each had different commanders. Each MAU had an
average of 1700 Marines. Of this number, a conservative
estimate is 1000 to 1200 Marines came ashore from each MAU.
14 Von Clausewitz, Book Two, Chapter 5, 156-169.
"Critical analysis" as used in this sentence is meant in the
same context of Carl Von Clausewitz's explanation of the
term in Book Two, Chapter 5.
SETTING THE STAGE
On 6 June 1982, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)
attacked into Lebanon on the first day of Operation PEACE
FOR GALILEE. What was initially declared to be a limited
offensive designed to create a buffer zone for the northern
Israeli settlements soon turned into a siege of Beirut, a
cosmopolitan city of over one-half million people.1 In its
pursuit of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
tactical forces, Israel violated the sovereignty of Lebanon,
engaged in major battles with Syria, and backed its quarry
into a corner.
In general, from an Israeli perspective, the original
motives for war justified the use of force. As the military
operations took on a life of their, own regardless of what
was briefed to or directed by the government, the Israeli
people began to question the legitimacy of the operation
especially as Israeli casualties began to rise. Operation
PEACE FOR GALILEE soon became a complex quagmire creating
problems between the military, government, and people
comparable to the problems faced by the U. S. during its
involvement in Vietnam.2
The IDF faced a major dilemma. To continue the siege
of Beirut meant increased casualties with no appreciable
gain while simultaneously increasing domestic pressure
against military operations. In addition to putting
pressure on the PLO, the siege also placed extreme hardship
on the Lebanese people. Civilian suffering increased
international pressure against Israel. An attack into the
city to destroy the PLO could result in enormous casualties
to the IDF. Additionally, a physical assault would require
extensive dismounted infantry troops, but the IDF was
organized and equipped primarily far mechanized infantry and
armored operations.3 To quit the siege or to not assault
would cause Israel to fall well short of its original
The U. S. also faced a dilemma. Israel had always been
considered an ally in an unstable region, which was
traditionally hostile to the U. S. and its interests.4
However, the IDF invasion created an even more unstable
environment that not only threatened the safety of U. S.
citizens in Lebanon, but risked escalation into a major
regional conflict. To intervene, the U. S. risked hurting
its ally. To not intervene, the U. S. risked intervention
by some other power and thereby suffer a loss of influence
in the region.
An acceptable compromise was reached that promised to
stabilize the situation. Lebanon asked the U. S., France,
and Italy to provide a buffer between the IDF, Syrian
forces, and the PLO so that the PLO could be safely
evacuated through the port of Beirut.5 This would end the
stalemate, save face for the PLO, and allow Israel to
achieve its objective of security for its northern
settlements. Before the MNF could evacuate the PLO, the
numerous parties involved had to reach an agreement as to
the terms of the operation. This condition was met on 20
On the same day the IDF launched its attack into
Lebanon, an Amphibious Task Force (ATF) made up of
Amphibious Squadron 4 (Phibron 4) and the 32d Marine
Amphibious Unit (MAU) entered the Mediterranean. Without
time to conduct a face-to-face turnover with the 34th MAU,
the unit it was relieving, the 32d MAU was ordered directly
to modified location (MODLOC) 100 miles off the coast of
On 24 June 1982 the 32d MAU evacuated 581 civilians
from Juniyah, Lebanon in a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation
(NEO).8 After the NEO, the ATF returned to MODLOC in
anticipation of further operations ashore. While some ships
rotated to ports for maintenance, others remained just
offshore. Finally, when it became more certain Marines were
needed and at the request of the Ambassador, the MAU sent a
liaison party ashore lead by Lieutenant Colonel Robert B.
Johnston, Commanding Officer of BLT 2/8.9 The ATF ships
assumed MODLOC on 16 August and prepared for another
mission. The 32d MAU landed a 800 man contingent in Beirut
on 25 August 1982 as part of a multinational force to
oversee the evacuation of the PLO guerrillas. Upon
successfully completing its mission, the ATF departed for
Naples on 10 September 1982.10
With the task complete, the ATF relaxed its alert
status and began much needed maintenance on its ships.11 A
series of unexpected events unfolded soon after the ATF
arrived in Naples. On 22 September 1982, the ATF began its
return to Beirut because of the assassination of Bashir
Gemeyal, the recently elected President of Lebanon, and the
Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camp massacres.12 The mission
assigned to USCINCEUR by JCS and then ultimately to the ATF
To establish an environment which will permit the
Lebanese Armed Forces to carry out their
responsibilities in the Beirut area. When directed,
USCINCEUR will introduce U. S. forces as part of a
multinational force presence in the Beirut area to
occupy and secure positions along a designated
section of the line from south of the Beirut
International Airport to a position in the vicinity
of the Presidential Palace; be prepared to protect
U. S. forces; and, on order, conduct retrograde
operations as required.13
This mission remained in effect until 23 October 1983.
While the 32d MAU evacuated the PLO, the 24th MAU, a
similarly sized and equipped unit, departed the U. S. on 24
August 1982 and conducted two amphibious training exercises
en route to Beirut. It relieved the 32d MAU on 1 November
1982.14 The 24th MAU took up the same positions as the 32d
MAU but extended its presence in Beirut to the eastern
sector of the city by patrolling the "Green Line."15
Additionally, Marines commenced training air assault units
from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on 13 December 1992.16
The 32d MAU, which had just been relieved, arrived in
the U. S. on 24 November and was redesignated the 22d MAU.17
The MAU headquarters changed some key personnel, most
notably the executive officer and operations officer (5-3),
but Colonel Mead remained the MAU Commander.18 In addition
to changing personnel in the headquarters staff, the MAU
received operational control (OPCON) over three entirely new
subordinate elements. The key point is that none of the
major subordinate elements (MSEs) of the 22d MAU had worked
with each other until 24 November 1982, which was just
barely 60 days before the MAU's next deployment. After a
two-week leave period, a brief work-up, and transit, the 22d
MAU arrived in Lebanon to relieve 24th MAU on 15 February
The 22d MAU continued the expanded patrolling of 24th
MAU and continued to improve the survivability and
habitability of positions around the airport. During
Colonel Mead's second tour in Lebanon, the environment
started to change for the USMNF. First, during a routine
dismounted foot patrol on 16 March 1983, five Marines were
wounded by a grenade.20 On 18 April 1983, a car bomb
exploded destroying the U. S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63
people, of which 17 were Americans, and wounding 100
others.21 As a direct result of the bombing, the mission of
the USMNF expanded to include providing security for the
temporary U. S. Embassy, which was housed in the Duraford
Building and the British Embassy.22
On 30 May 1983, 24th MAU (this time under the command
of Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty), relieved 22d MAU.23 The
24th MAU continued the mission of the previous MAUs
occupying the same positions and carrying out the same types
of activities. The 24th MAU's patrols differed from those
of its predecessors because they included an LAF fireteam
with its squad-sized Marine patrols.24
Around the same time as the changeover between the 22d
and 24th MAUs, Israel had signed an agreement on 17 May 1983
with the government of Lebanon (GOL) stating it would
withdraw its forces south of the Awali River. This
agreement was signed without consulting Syria or the
numerous factions surrounding Beirut.25 On 4 September
1983, the IDF started its withdrawal.26
Increased incidents of indirect fire around Marine
positions began on 22 July as the IDF prepared to withdraw.
By 22 October, Marine casualties totaled seven killed and 64
wounded as a result of direct and indirect fire weapons.27
In response to the increased threat, Marines had ceased
patrolling and begun to respond more aggressively
progressing from direct-fire weapons, to mortars, to 155mm
artillery and naval gunfire.28 Not only did naval gunfire
support Marine positions around the Beirut International
Airport (BIA), Colonel Geraghty was ordered to use naval
gunfire to directly support the LAF engaged with Druze
militia in Suq Al Gharb on 19 September 1983.29 The
neutrality of U. S. ground forces, already in question, now
had clearly been lost.30
On 23 October 1983, a truck bomb, described earlier,
exploded in BLT 1/8's headquarters killing 241 Marines and
sailors. Although no new mission was formally assigned to
the 24th MAU, this event marked a major change in the way
Marines operated in Lebanon with survivability taking
precedence over presence. Extraordinary effort was made to
disperse units to protect against potential follow-on
terrorist acts, but lack of resources and lack of protection
against indirect fire slowed down this effort.31
On 19 November 1983, the 22d MAU relieved the 24th
MAU.32 En route to Beirut, the 22d MAU had participated in
combat operations in Grenada. During Operation URGENT FURY,
the 22d MAU conducted amphibious assaults, conventional
combat, and evacuation operations. While operating in
Grenada, the MAU was commanded by Colonel Faulkner, who like
Colonel Geraghty, was deploying to Beirut for the first
time. However, when the 22d MAU arrived in Lebanon,
Brigadier General Jim R. Joy assumed command of the MAU and
was designated Commander U. S. Forces Ashore Lebanon.
Colonel Faulkner assumed the Chief of Staff position for
what now was essentially a brigade staff. The two reasons
most often given for this change are: (1) the other
contingencies were commanded by generals and so a U. S.
general was needed for representation, and (2) a general
along with a larger staff was required given the increase in
external support .33
Additionally, the 22d MAU received a clearer mission.
Because the Long Commission determined that the previous
MAUs had perceived the maintenance of an operational airport
in Lebanon as an implied task,34 the 22d MAU was given a
clearly specified task to defend its positions.35 The focus
of 22d MAU's mission changed from presence to defense.
Increased engineer support arrived, and strong
combat-oriented defensive positions were built.36 By 5
January 1984, every USMNF member had his own bunker for
living and working.37 Even though the Marines had good
protection, the bulk of the 22d MAU was withdrawn to
amphibious shipping on 26 February 1984.38 The withdrawal
from BIA marked the end of the USMNF's military "presence"
in Lebanon. The only significant force from the MAU
remaining ashore was at the British Embassy and Duraford
Building providing security for the U. S. Ambassador.
However, this was a security force, not a peacekeeping
Using this chronology, the major events affecting the
USMNF can be grouped several ways. Benis Franks, in his
history of U. S. Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984, organizes his
chapters based on MAU rotations and refers to them as Beirut
I through VI. Table 1 below offers another way to look at
Marine operations. The phases are based on external events.
Click here to view image
Aanlysis of Table 1 shows some interesting
relationships. Phase 1, also known as MNF I, was an
operation in itself.40 Its operational objectives were
fairly clear and were successfully accomplished over a
relatively short period. Because it occurred over a short
period, Phase 1 involved only one U. S. tactical unit, the
32d MAU led by Colonel Mead. Even though MNF I involved
diplomatic and military action, the military part of this
operation received nothing but praise.41 Therefore, any
influence tactical-level actions had on the overall success
of MNF I can be attributed to one tactical unit, the 32d
Phases 2 and 3 are part of the same operation and
shared the same mission and objectives. While failure
occurred during Phase 3, tactical-level actions that may
have influenced that failure cannot be attributed
exclusively to one tactical unit. Four different tactical
units operated in Lebanon during Phase 2. Phase 2 may or
may not have influenced events in Phase 3. Therefore,
critical analysis of tactical-level actions during both
phases 2 and 3 is essential to identify potential linkage
between the two phases.
Finally, Phase 4 involved two different units. The
objectives of Phase 4 (survival and withdrawal) were clearly
different from any of the other phases. Phases 2 and 3 may
have determined the tactical environment in which forces
were to operate during Phase 4, but the mission was not the
same. In a symposium ten years after the BLT 1/8
headquarters bombing, Colonel Geraghty said, "[T]he mission
changed, but no one changed the mission. 42 In an interview
with Benis Frank, Brigadier General Joy made a clear
distinction between the original mission and the one he had
been assigned when he said, "[T]he mission was changed to
seize and defend vice seize and secure."48 Phase 4 may be
useful to analyze what the forces had to do differently to
survive, but clearly it was not the same "presence" mission
of Phases 2 and 3. Therefore, Phases 1 through 3 will be
examined to first determine if the USMNF's mission was
peacekeeping, and if so how the tactical-level forces
carried out that mission.
Was This Peacekeeping?
Although the mission statement cited earlier contained
no mention of peacekeeping, the Long Commission found "the
USMNF was implicitly characterized as a peacekeeping
operation."44 The report cites that Presidential public
statements, reports to Congress, and letters to the United
Nation's Secretary-General contributed to this
characterization. The report points out even the subject
lines of the alert order and execute order read, "U. S.
Force participation in Lebanon Multinational Force (MNF)
Peacekeeping Operations. (Emphasis added)"45
However, alert and execute orders were probably not
seen by all of the USMNF. Additionally, their deployed
status made access to Presidential statements, reports, and
letters inaccessible to Marines, especially in the case of
early deployed MAUs. Certainly not every individual was
affected by these things to the same degree. The validity
of the Long Commission statement must be checked to
determine the actual extent Marines believed their mission
At the beginning of a Marine Corps Gazette article
written by Colonel Mead explaining Marine Corps involvement
in Lebanon, the editorial staff inserted the following
subtitle: "The Commander's Overview of 32d MAU's
Peacekeeping Operation."46 In the article, Colonel Mead
describes how Marines cheered when they heard a special
message from President Reagan that read in part as follows:
You are tasked to be once again what Marines have been
for more than 200 years--peacemakers. Your role in the
Multinational Force--along with that of your French and
Italian counterparts--is crucial to achieving the peace
that is so desperately needed in this long-tortured
At the end of his article, Colonel Mead summarizes the
accomplishments of the 32d MAU during its deployment and
writes, "We had learned what it was like to be a
peacekeeper!"48 Clearly the MAU Commander saw the mission
as peacekeeping. In this article, Colonel Mead also
describes how the small units briefed and prepared before
each of the three landings in Lebanon. Since Colonel Mead
observed these briefs, a reasonable conclusion is that
Marines discussed the nature of their mission in the same
context as their MAU Commander. Therefore, we can assume
that in the case of the first MAU that went ashore in
Lebanon, the Marines associated their mission with
Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU was the second MAU to
participate in'the USMNF. In an interview on 15 March 1983,
Colonel Stokes never used the word "peacekeeping" to
describe his unites mission. He did describe his mission as
being a stabilizing factor among the people of Lebanon, the
IDF, the PLO, and the Syrians."49 Although he would not be
the MAU Commander, he hoped, when the 24th MAU returned to
Lebanon in two months, the foreign parties would be gone.
The MAU could then expand its perimeter and provide
stability among the various Lebanese factions, which he
described as the "Hatfields and McCoys."50 While Colonel
Stokes did not explicitly state that his mission was
peacekeeping, he implicitly described a peacekeeping
BLT 3/8 was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for Colonel
Stokes' MAU. This unit's postdeployment report, written to
Colonel Stokes, is peppered with the word "peacekeeping."51
The first sentence of this report reads, "The Beirut
peacekeeping mission was certainly the highlight of the
deployment." The remainder of the report goes on to
describe the different activities conducted in Lebanon.
Clearly, BLT 3/8 saw the mission as peacekeeping.
Since Colonel Mead returned to Beirut with the 22d MAU
in February 1983, the Marines of this MAU most likely viewed
the mission as peacekeeping as well. In a second Marine
Cozps Gazette article, Colonel Mead wrote, "The situation in
Lebanon permeated everything that we did prior to
departure."52 Colonel Mead's assessment of the attitudes of
his Marines was that "[t]hey all wanted a chance to assist
the Lebanese people in their search for peace and the
regaining of sovereignty over all of Lebanon."53
The Marine Corps Gazette is the professional journal of
the United States Marine Corps. The Gazette is widely read
and discussed by both officers and enlisted Marines.
Certainly it would have captured the attention of Marines
preparing to deploy to Lebanon. Therefore, a good
assumption is that Colonel Mead's February 1983 article
influenced most if not all Marines of the 24th MAU who
replaced the 22d MAU in May 1983.
Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, Commanding Officer of the
24th MAU, also may have been influenced by how the two
previous MAU Commanders, Colonels Mead and Stokes, saw the
mission. He assumed command of the 24th MAU from Colonel
Stokes before leaving for Lebanon and did a face-to-face
turnover with Colonel Mead before assuming command of U. S.
Forces Ashore Lebanon on 30 May 1983. In an interview
conducted on 26 May 1983 he said,
Our commitment here is really a peacekeeping role. It
is highly political with [the] diplomatic side and
political side overshadowing the tactical side. It's a
mission where we are providing a presence and that
implies a visibility, a flexibility in order for us to
assist the Lebanese government to regain their
At the small-unit level, in addition to what the
average individual Marine was getting from his seniors, he
was bombarded with the idea he was a peacekeeper. The
nightly television news and local newspapers were filled
with peacekeeping stories that would capture any Marine's
attention as he was about to deploy. This was especially
true around the time of major events such as the bombing of
the U. S. Embassy.
Even while deployed, the MAU's unofficial newspaper
published by the Public Affairs Office had a masthead that
read, "ROOT SCOOP, Serving the men of the 24th Marine
Amphibious Unit, U. S. Peacekeepers, Beirut."35 In addition
to the perhaps subtle message of its masthead, the ROOT
SCOOP frequently contained cartoons from U. S. newspapers
depicting the dilemma of "peacekeepers" subjected to "stray"
rounds. A Marine was likely to read these cartoons
especially if he was feeling frustration over what he could
and could not do in return to the incoming fire. The
message was loud and clear; Marines were considered
peacekeepers even if they were getting shot at or if they
were shooting back.
What Was Peacekeeping?
Clearly the MAU Commanders and their Marines thought
the mission was peacekeeping. We must now look at what was
known about this type of mission at the time. Quite simply,
not much was known. The reason for this lack of knowledge
is not because peacekeeping was entirely new. The UN had
participated or was participating in at least twelve
peacekeeping operations with the first one starting in
1947.56 Additionally, the U. S. had just begun the
Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), a non-UN sponsored
peacekeeping mission in the Sinai, in April 1982 as part of
a treaty the U. S. had worked out between Israel and
The problem was peacekeeping doctrine had not been
formalized. Although several studies had been conducted by
prestigious organizations such as the Brookings Institute
and the International Peace Academy, no general consensus
existed that the doctrine these organizations proposed was
valid. Regardless of whether or not the U. S. agreed
totally or in part, several of these studies offer some very
good advice on peacekeeping to a wide audience ranging from
the individual soldier to the most senior national-level
decisionmaker. When developing the concept for the MFO
operations in the Sinai, UN peacekeeping tactics and
procedures from previous operations became the model even
though MFO was not a UN sponsored mission.58
Not until very recently has the term "peacekeeping"
been precisely defined. The studies completed by 1982 did
recognize "peacekeeping" as meaning different things to
different countries depending on which country was using the
term. They also recognized that some countries, especially
those which had considerable military power, did not
necessarily subscribe to the same concepts envisioned by the
UN concerning the use of force and coercion during
peacekeeping operations. If force were involved, most
senior-level UN decisionmakers, who had extensive experience
in peacekeeping, agreed the mission was not peacekeeping.
While no specific terms were used to differentiate
operations using varying levels of force, a clear
distinction was made between peacekeeping (no force) and
enforcement operations (some force) .59
Three notable figures in UN peacekeeping; Major General
Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle, and Bjorn Egge,
authored a book in which they explained the tactics of
peacekeeping. The authors eloquently address the skepticism
and arguments against peacekeeping. One concept in
particular, the absolute minimum use of force and only in
self-defense, received a lot of criticism. They concluded
only through measures less than force, could peacekeepers
create conditions that were more likely to let diplomatic
measures work.60 In their book A Thin Blue Line, the
The "weapons" of the peacekeeper in achieving his
objectives are those of negotiation, mediation, quiet
diplomacy and reasoning, tact and the patience of a
JOB--not the self-loading rifle.61
The basic peacekeeping tactic of the time (a tactic
known as interposition) was to establish a neutral third
party between two hostile parties. This third party
monitored agreements; reported and investigated gunfire,
unusual movements, digging and improvements in
fortifications, and any other suspicious activities.62
Peacekeepers were a deterrent because neither of the hostile
parties wanted to shoot at the UN, nor did they want to be
charged with aggression.63
From this tactic and the theory of how it works,
several key requirements at the tactical-level stand out.
All writers at the time would have agreed the most important
requirement was the third party must be perceived as
impartial. Impartiality once lost makes the third party
entirely ineffective because of lost trust, confidence, and
respect on the part of one or both sides.64 Impartiality is
fragile. Frequently the peacekeeper is referred to as the
"referee." As such, he must assess blame fairly. A popular
saying is that if a peacekeeping force is unpopular with
both sides at the same time, then it is carrying out its
duties objectively and with impartiality.65
There are numerous examples of how third parties lose
their impartial status because of simple things such as
cultural differences, language misunderstandings, or past
histories that conflict with one of the involved party's
ideas of impartiality and acceptability. In most cases, the
loss of impartiality results in the removal of the third
party from the peacekeeping operation. Sometimes this
removal involves only individuals while at other times
entire contingents. As can be imagined, the difficulty and
cost associated with sending an entire battalion-sized
contingent home can be staggering. The concept of
impartiality was well documented, and we can assume common
knowledge by September 1982.
Another very clear point is that the peacekeeping force
must be accepted by all hostile parties involved in the
conflict. Unlike the first requirement, which focuses on
the peacekeeping force, this requirement focuses on the
hostile parties. Larry Fabian of the Brookings Institution
explains the second requirement this way: "[T]he
peacekeeping system can function effectively only if the
disputants show at least a modicum of cooperation by
voluntarily respecting a certain threshold of compliance.
They must want to stop fighting. If the parties want to
stop fighting, why do we need peacekeepers? Most often lack
of trust prevents parties from stopping the fight. A third
party provides assurances that treaties will be followed and
neither side will gain an advantage by secretly violating
terms of the treaty. Fabian describes the relationship
between peacekeepers and disputants "like a partnership,
conceived for limited purposes and based on equally limited
common ends. Peacekeepers are agents not only of the
international community but also, in a sense, of the parties
A third requirement of peacekeeping is the absolute
minimum use of force. Since peacekeeping is normally
carried out by military forces which have been trained for
war, this requirement can cause some discomfort and seem
illogical. The soldier's natural tendency is to use force
or threat of force to achieve a desired result. Major
General Rikhye argues that this tendency is exactly opposite
the correct attitude required in peacekeeping. He writes,
"[W]ithout the correct attitude and approach on the part of
the third party, the chances of the intervention remaining
peaceful becomes unlikely."68 Larry Fabian dispels the
popular thought that more arms in peacekeeping are better
because of the greater capacity to impose punishment. He
uses UN peacekeeping operations in Cypress as an example to
show the exact opposite is true.69 Any use of force whether
actual force, coercion, or too forceful persuasion will lead
to the perception the third party is not neutral but rather
Care must be taken in defining force. There are
dif ferent types of force: armed and unarmed. Most soldiers
can easily identify armed force. Unarmed force is more
subtle. It includes "the use of barricades, manhandling,
the use of heavy equipment to remove obstacles and the use
of tear gas."71 The use of unarmed force is still the use
Self-defense, although a permissible use of force, must
be carefully defined. During early UN operations,
self-defense meant: (1) defense of UN posts, premises, and
vehicles under armed attack, and (2) the support of other
personnel of the UN force under attack.72 As UN operations
became more complex, self-defense had to be adapted and not
just limited to defense against unprovoked attack. For
example, in Cypress, force was authorized to prevent
"attempts by force to prevent [UNFICYP soldiers] from
carrying out their responsibilities as ordered by their
commanders."73 In the Congo, where UN forces actually faced
mercenaries in the Katanga phase, rules of engagement had to
evolve to provide for a more proactive use of force in self-
defense. Self-defense expanded to include the use of
conventional artillery and even air defense weapons.74 Care
must be taken not to lose sight of the original concept of
minimum use of force. The general rule is force only in
self-defense, and when no longer threatened, force is no
While most of the existing literature in 1982
addressed peacekeeping at the very high level, a
considerable amount of information addressing small-unit and
individual peacekeeping requirements was embedded between
the pages of high-level discussion. Former UN
Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold said, "Peacekeeping is
not a job for soldiers, but only a soldier can do it."75
Major General Rikhye felt soldiering skill was a valuable
asset, but it is not the only required peacekeeping
attribute. Furthermore, essential peacekeeping attributes
are not found in any military textbook.76 In his book, he
spends twelve pages describing how soldiers need to be
trained in the proper attitude, approach, use of language,
cultural awareness, and properly prepared for environmental
adaptation. He discusses the use of professional soldier
versus nonprofessional and gives the advantages of using
each type. He addresses the differences in officer
observers and tactical peacekeeping forces. His analysis ie
very detailed and addresses the many nuances of peacekeeping
that would probably go unnoticed by those inexperienced in
peacekeeping. In his discussions, he goes to considerable
length to describe how improper individual preparation can
adversely affect the entire peacekeeping force.77 General
Rikhye understood how closely the tactical-level is linked
to the strategic-level in peacekeeping operations.
Charles Moskos studied the many different variables
affecting the individual peacekeeping soldier to determine
if one type of soldier was better suited for peacekeeping
than others. His basic conclusion was proper training and
time on the job make good peacekeepers.78 In the process of
arriving at this conclusion, he provides a valuable
perspective concerning the requirements on individual
soldiers and offers many valuable peacekeeping vignettes
with associated lessons.79 At the higher tactical level,
Major General Carl von Horn published a book on his personal
experience with peacekeeping during three major UN
operations. His book addresses the conflict between
military and political requirements. While his book offers
no prescription for peacekeeping, it does offer valuable
insight on the moral dilemma often created by political
decisions that may endanger tactical forces.
Other literature at the time discussed issues such as
superpower involvement in peacekeeping, UN sanctioned versus
unilateral action, and intelligence; but these issues
concern decisionmaking levels beyond the scope of this
analysis. Additionally, insufficient intelligence support
is one of the major issues highlighted by the Long
Commission's report, and the problem was fixed before the
final departure of the USMNF.80 This study will focus on
lessons not previously learned.
The point of the above discussion is to show the
existing documented knowledge concerning peacekeeping at the
time the USMNF was committed in Lebanon. Clearly
peacekeeping tactics had been developed and are studied by
U. S. forces involved in other peacekeeping operations.
However, the body of knowledge was contained in scholarly
texts not military manuals.
Having described the extent to which basic peacekeeping
theory was developed in 1982, we now have a theoretical
model. We can use this model to compare actual tactics used
by the USMNF to the tactics we would expect them to use
through the application of theory.
1 Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari. Israel's Lebanon War.
Trans. and ed. Ina Friedman (New York: Simon and Schuster,
2 Schiff and Ya'ari, 230-249.
3 Lcdr Michael A. Hamel, USCG. Operation Peace for
Galilee: The 1982 Israeli Invasion of Lebanon. Thesis.
(Quantico, VA: USMC Command and General Staff College, 2
June 94), 92-93.
4 Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle, Bjorn Egge. The
Thin Blue Line, International Peacekeeping and Its Future.
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974), 217-218.
5 Frank, 12.
6 Colonel James M. Mead, USMC. "The Lebanon Experience."
Marine Corps Gazette, (February 1983): 34. Here after
referred to as Mead 1st article
7 Mead 1st article, 30. Colonel Mead refers to the unit
being relieved as the 24th MAU. Actually it was the 34th
MAU commanded by Colonel Thomas Stokes. This MAU was
redesignated 24th MAU when it arrived in CONUS.
8 Mead 1st article, 31.
9 Mead 1st article, 33.
10 Frank, 149.
11 Mead 1st article, 38.
12 Frank, 149.
13 Long Commission Report, 35.
14 Frank, 36-37.
15 Frank, 149.
16 Frank, 40-41.
17 Frank, 34.
18 Brigadier General James R. Mead, USMC. "Lebanon
Revisted." Marine Corps Gazette, (September 1983): 64-73.
Here after referred to as Mead 2d article.
19 Frank, 154-160.
20 Frank, 57-58.
21 Mead, 2d article, 71.
22 Mead, 2d article, 71.
23 Frank, 150.
24 Frank, 73.
25 Thomas L. Friedman. From Beirut to Jerusalem. (New
York: Doubleday, 1989), 198-199.
26 Major George M. Converse, USMC, 5-3 24th MAU on USS Iwo
Jima, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20 November 1983, 7.
27 Frank, 150-152.
28 Converse, 5.
29 Frank, 151.
30 Geraghty, Colonel Timothy J., USMC. Commanding Officer
of 24 MAU on USS Iwo Jima, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20
November 1983, 11-14. Here after referred to as Geraghty II.
31 The Long Commission found the plans for dispersing
personnel of the USMNF had not been enacted by 30 November
1983. (see page 138 Long Commission Report) Brigadier
General Joy said the Long Commission was a little too
critical of Colonel Geraghty and Lieutenant Colonel Gerlach.
Once the artillery started flying, they could not be in the
open building bunkers. Later, General Joy describes the
extraordinary engineer work of the 22d MAU at a cost of $4.5
million. See, Brigadier General Jim R. Joy, USMC.
Commanding Officer 22d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by
Benis M. Frank, 26 May 1984, 15 and 54.
32 Frank, 116-117.
33 Colonel James P. Faulkner, USMC. Commanding Officer
and Chief of Staff 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by
Benis M. Frank, 25 May 84, 4-9.
34 Long Commission Report, 38.
35 Caulkner, 14.
36 Captain Christopher J. Guenther, USMC, Commanding
Officer Wpns Co, BLT 2/8, 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC,
interview by Benis M. Frank, 22 May 1984, 1-35. During this
interview, Captain Guenther describes the defensive position
established by BLT 2/8. The defense was based on mutually
supporting strongpoints. Each strong point was tied in by
fire and had interlocking .50 caliber machinegun final
protective fires. Using heavy equipment and reinforcing
engineers, Marines cleared fields of fire to maximize the
usefulness of their fires. The Lebanese were in the process
of acquiring flood lights to light the cleared areas when
the 22d MAU left.
37 Sergeant Randy Daugherty, USMC. "Combined Effort Gets
Job Done" Root Scoop, 5 Jan 1984, 1.
38 Frank, 153.
39 Compiled from data contained in Frank, 149-153.
40 Frank refers to the evacuation of the PLO as "Beirut
I." Other studies refer to this operation as MNF I. This
study will use MNF I to mean operations conducted between 25
August and 10 September 1982, and MNF II to mean operations
conducted between 29 September 1982 to 26 February 1984.
41 32d MAU received a Navy Unit Commendation for the
evacuation of the PLO. Colonel Mead also received phone
calls from President Reagan and Secretary of Defense on 10
September 1982. See Frank, 185 and 21.
42 Lieutenant Colonel John Benson Matthews, USMC (ret).
United States Peacekeeping in Lebanon 1982-1984: Why it
Failed. Doctoral Thesis. (Washington State University, May
43 Brigadier General Jim R. Joy, USMC. Commanding Officer
22d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 26
May 1984, 3-4. Here after referred to as Joy.
44 Long Commission Report, 39.
45 Long Commission Report, 39.
46 Mead 1st article, 30.
47 Mead 1st article, 34-35.
48 Mead 1st article, 35.
49 Colonel Thomas M. Stokes, Jr., USMC. Commanding Officer
24th MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis Frank, 15
March 1983, 9-10. Throughout this interview, Colonel Stokes
was very precise in the words he used. He described his
mission by systematically addressing the mission (task and
purpose) and each of his specified and implied tasks.
50 Stokes, 38-39.
51 Commanding Officer Battalion Landing Team 3/8 letter to
Commanding Officer 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, 1/JHA/clm,
3100, subject: "After Action Report For Landing Force Sixth
Fleet 3-82," 7 March 1983.
52 Mead 2d article, 66.
53 Mead 2d article, 66.
54 Geraghty I, 5.
55 The Root Scoop was the unofficial newspaper of the MAUs
ashore in Lebanon. The newspaper was used primarily for
troop information. Almost an entire set of the newspapers
is on file at the USMC Historical Center in Washington D.C.
Ironically, the masthead never changed its peacekeeping logo
even after the BLT headquarters explosion and 22d MAU under
the command of BGEN Jim Joy arrived with a changed mission.
56 W. Durch and B. Bleechman, Keeping the Peace: The
United Nations In The merging World Order (Washington,
D.C.: The Henry L. Stimson Center 1992), 11, as quoted by
LTC Leo E. Keenan, III, USA. United States Peacekeeping
Operations: The Need for Policy and Procedures. Thesis
(Carlisle Barracks, PA: U. S. Army War College, March
57 MAJ Clarence E. Taylor, USA. Does the Army Have a
Peacekeeking(sic) Doctrine For the 1990's? Thesis (Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas: U. S. Army School of Advanced Military
Studies, June 1992), 15.
58 Major Phillip L. Brinkley, USA. Tactical Requirements
for Peacekeeping Operations. Thesis (Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas: U. S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies,
December 1985), 4-15.
59 Arthur M. Cox, Prospects for Peacekeeping. (Washington,
DC: The Brookings Institution, 1967), 132.
60 Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle, Bjorn Egge. The
Thin Blue Line, International Peacekeeping and Its Future.
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974), 12-13.
61 Rikhye, et al., 11.
62 Charles C. Moskos, Jr. Peace Soldiers, the Sociology
of a United Nations Military Force. (Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1976), 84-85.
63 Cox, 6.
64 Rikhye, et al., 11.
65 Rikhye, et al., 274.
66 Larry L. Fabian, Soldiers without Enemies, Preparing
the United Nations for Peacekeeping. (Washington, DC: The
Brookings Institution, 1971), 24.
67 Fabian, 23.
68 Rikhye, et al., 11.
69 Rikhye, et al., 30.
70 Fabian, 29.
71 Moskos, 88.
72 Moskos, 87.
73 Moskos, 87.
74 Rikhye, et al., 71-96.
75 Dag Hammarskjold as quoted by Field Manual (FM) 100-23,
Peace Operations (Washington, DC: Department of the Army,
December 1994), 1. This quote appears in many places.
Interestingly, the authors of FM 100-23 include it as the
subheading of Chapter 1, page 1.
76 Rikhye, et al., 267.
77 Rikhye, et al., 267-279.
78 Moskos, 96. The British attitude before UNICYP was a
well trained force properly lead will be good at
peacekeeping. As a result of several peacekeeping
operations and British involvement in Northern Ireland, this
is no longer the attitude. The British train extensively
four months before deployment to Northern Ireland with a
final graduation exercise conducted in an environment very
similar to the urban environment of the deployment. The
British have special ranges that allows them to practice
engaging targets with the minimum use of force. See,
Colonels John P. Abizaid and John R. Wood, USA. "Preparing
for Peacekeeping: Military Training and the Peacekeeping
Environment." Special Warfare 7, no. 2 (April 1994) 15-17.
79 Moskos, 95.
80 J0y, 81.
As described earlier, MNF I was a relatively short
operation running from 25 August to 10 September 1982. The
Multinational Force consisted of U. S., French, and Italian
forces. The 32d MAU was the USMNF contingent during the
evacuation of the PLO through the port of Beirut. After
much debate concerning how the USMNF would be used,
USCINCEUR finalized the mission to:
Support Ambassador Habib and the MNF committee in their
efforts to have PLO members evacuated from the Beirut
area; occupy and secure the port of Beirut in
conjunction with the Lebanese Armed Forces; maintain
close and continuous contact with other MNF members;
and be prepared to withdraw on order.1
To carry out its mission, the 32d MAU established
security with BLT 2/8 and control with a headquarters cell,
which coordinated both internally and externally to the MAU.
Internal coordination involved positioning the security
force, recording the outflow of PLO, and maintaining support
of forces ashore. External coordination involved liaison
with the LAF, IDF, other MNF members ashore, and the U. S.
Department of State.
The MAU was limited by diplomatic agreement to 800
personnel ashore. The Aviation Combat Element (ACE)
remained afloat and played an important role shuttling
diplomats and providing transportation for logistical
support.2 Most support services remained sea-based, but
some personnel from the MAU Service Support Group (MSSG) did
land and carried out administrative functions during the
evacuation and established limited supplies ashore. The
Preventative Medicine Unit (PMU) carried out one of the most
important duties by certifying buildings as safe,
establishing sanitation facilities ashore, and improving
BLT 2/8 established security for the port by
positioning two rifle companies in a perimeter and
controlling the entrance to the port with a manned
checkpoint. Lieutenant Colonel Johnston kept a third rifle
company off the perimeter and centrally located to act as an
internal security and reaction force. At the entrance to
the port, Echo Company, commanded by Captain McCabe, manned
a squad-sized checkpoint in conjunction with French and LAF
forces.3 The operations of the perimeter and checkpoint
were designed to satisfy the agreements reached between all
parties in Lebanon. The most important agreements were
between the Israelis and the PLO.
The PLO forces were widely dispersed throughout West
Beirut. The IDF had pushed into East Beirut but stopped
just before entering West Beirut along the Sidon Road, which
had traditionally separated Muslim West Beirut from
Christian East Beirut. During the Lebanese Civil War, the
Sidon Road was a well-known divider and was called the
"Green Line." The port lay at the northern most point of the
Green Line. Because of its central location with respect to
the dividing line, the port was within view of the IDF in
East Beirut. The IDF was able to monitor activity inside
the port from several tall buildings, which surrounded the
The MNF interposed itself between forces to keep the
Israelis from attacking the PLO as they were evacuated. The
French contingent manned positions along the Green Line.
The Italian contingent escorted elements from the Syrian
Army from West Beirut through IDF lines to the Bakaa Valley.
The USMNF interposed forces around the port to prevent the
IDF from attacking the PLO when they were most vulnerable,
after they had given up their arms and were concentrated in
the relatively small confines of the port.
The Israelis agreed to the evacuation of the PLO under
certain conditions. The most important of which was that
the PLO could not keep their heavy weapons.4 The government
of Lebanon made the LAF responsible for inspecting PLO
forces as they evacuated to make sure this part of the
agreement was carried out. However, the IDF wanted more
certainty, and so while the U. S. did not actually disarm
the PLO, the USMNF was charged with verifying compliance
with the disarmament agreement.5 The PLO was wary of
concentrating in one location. In addition to verifying
disarmament for the IDF, the positioning of the USMNF
between the IDF and the PLO assured no harm would come to
the PLO. The USMNF was carrying out all the tasks normally
associated with peacekeeping as discussed earlier.
One of the key aspects of the USMNF was the operation
of checkpoint 54, the combined U. S., French, and LAF
checkpoint at the port entrance. When trucks carrying the
PLO arrived at the port, they were allowed to enter inside
the perimeter but then were stopped for search. The Marine
squad physically positioned itself in front of the truck
stretching across the road to prevent the truck from going
any farther. The LAF inspected the truck for heavy weapons
and when found clear would signal to the Marine squad. The
squad would move aside, the truck would move inside the port
and off load its PLO passengers. The passengers moved by a
loading point, staged their personal weapons and then got on
The Israelis had positions that overlooked the port.
In one particular building, the IDF had set up an
observation point, which contained just about every kind of
electronic surveillance equipment available, to include high
power cameras to film the faces of every PLO fighter leaving
Lebanon.7 The IDF watched the departure of the PLO and
whenever they observed something that they felt violated the
terms of the agreement (which was frequent), they contacted
the USMNF and the truck would be reinspected. Until
reinspection was carried out, the Israelis blocked the
departure and arrival of ships just outside the port.8
To appreciate the difficult nature of the mission
assigned to the USMNF, one must remember the evacuation was
being conducted after three months of fighting between the
IDF and PLO. Additionally, the hatred between the two
parties can be traced back to the beginning of Israel in
1948. The setting of the evacuation was in a city that had
been the scene of six years of fighting in a civil war. The
area around the port saw the most intense fighting because
it marked the dividing line between warring sides. Martyr
Square, the scene of the heaviest fighting during the civil
war, was just south of the port. Pictures of the square
taken in 1982 look more like a scene from World War II.9
The PLO, which was portrayed as a scraggly terrorist
organization by the American press, led to wide and varied
speculation on the terrorist threat. To add to the
confusion was the fact the PLO arrived for the evacuation
wearing new uniforms, were freshly shaven and had
haircuts.10 Even though the PLO fighters were fairly well
disciplined, they had the peculiar custom of firing their
weapons into the air on full automatic to celebrate
"victory" creating an unnerving if not dangerous
situation.11 When put in this context, the true nature and
complexity of the mission can be better understood.
What type of training did the USMNF have before the
evacuation of the PLO to prepare them for this unusual
mission? Since the bulk of personnel on the ground was from
BLT 2/8, the training of that unit will be examined.
BLT 2/8's postdeployment report starts out with the
During the predeployment period, the BLT's tempo of
operations was high, and when coupled with the many
CEP's [Command Evaluation Program] and inspections, it
could be said that too much was being done in too short
The chronology of events shows a quick-paced schedule that
started when BLT 2/8 returned from a six month deployment on
1 July 1981 and lasted until the battalion started its
current deployment on 25 May 1982. In less than one year,
the battalion reorganized, assumed a follow-on and primary
air-alert-force responsibility, and stood a Commanding
General's inspection. Additionally, it served as an
aggressor force for another battalion's Combat Readiness
Evaluation (CRE), and was evaluated itself on crew-served
weapons. The major unit exercises went just before
deployment when the battalion conducted a week-long Fire
Support Coordination Exercise and a two-week Mech
Counter-Mech training exercise at Fort Pickett, Virginia.13
The postdeployment report does point out that the
battalion's individual companies spent 12-15 days in the
field each month during which they spent time on squad,
platoon, and company tactics with emphasis on non-combatant
evacuation operations (NEO), mechanized warfare, and night
operations.14 However, with the exception of the NEO
training, which was done only at the company-level and
below, most of BLT 2/8's training focused on conventional
The company-level NEO training would certainly have
assisted in evacuating the American citizens from Lebanon on
25 and 26 June 1982, but BLT 2/8 remained on ship during
this evacuation. The MSSG, which also stayed on ship,
provided the evacuation control center (ECC).15 While some
of the concepts and techniques used in a NEO would still
apply to the evacuation of the PLO, the amount of attention
NEO actually received during predeployment training is not
BLT 2/8's Command Chronology goes into detail
concerning other training exercises and evaluations
conducted before deployment, but briefly mentions NEO
training at the company level. This lack of detail
indicates the battalion probably did not stress NEO as much
as other types of training such as NBC operations.
Furthermore, since this training was conducted at the
company-level and in the field, there is a good chance that
the quality of training varied from company to company. The
battalion had a good idea of its proficiency in
marksmanship, NBC, crew-served weapons, and fire support
coordination because it had undergone external evaluations
in all these areas. However, it had no similar feedback on
contingency operations such as NEO.
In conclusion, while BLT 2/8 had trained in many areas
over a short period of time concentrating on conventional
operations, it probably had not conducted too much training
on NEO before deployment. No mention was made about
peacekeeping training in either the command chronology or
the postdeployment report. Therefore, the majority of BLT
2/8's training in this area had to come while Marines were
embarked on ship moving to the contingency site.
This point is supported by the Operations and Training
section of BLT 2/8's postdeployment report. In the general
summary, the report states, "Deployment training was
predominately mission oriented and specifically driven by
the three contingency operations."16 Some of the specific
subjects of training were NEO, military operations on urban
terrain, and troop familiarization with the areas of
operation.17 Finally, the report goes on to say actual
participation in the three contingencies was in itself a
form of training in such areas as motorized patrolling,
sandbag position building, and laying barbed wire.18
Of most interest is a total omission of training on the
requirements of peacekeeping. This omission may be for two
reasons. First, peacekeeping training may not have been
mentioned because BLT 2/8 considered the evacuation of the
PLO as so similar to a NEO that it deserved no special
mention. A second reason might be that while the 32d MAU
could foresee a NEO before deployment, they had not
considered evacuating the PLO or any other form of
peacekeeping as a likely mission.
From Colonel Mead's article in the Marine Corps Gazette
published after 32d MAU returned from Lebanon, the latter
seems the most likely. When the 32d MAU was placed in
MODLOC off the Lebanese coast, the most likely mission
appeared to be a NEO. The MAU had prepared ahead for a NEO
and had a working file on that type operation. In addition
to an established SOP, the file had old Marine Corps Gazette
articles written about Operations EAGLE PULL and FREQUENT
WIND.19 During two different interviews, the 32d MAU's
Operations Officer and MSSG 32's Commanding Officer mention
a Fort Leavenworth study on the 1958 Lebanon crisis, which
also involved an evacuation. Both officers mentioned how
helpful this study had been and were able to cite the
dysentery rate for U. S. forces during the 1958 crisis.
They were very proud that as a result of using this study
the dysentery rate of the 32d MAU was lower in Beirut than
it was for the MAU during liberty in Naples, Italy.20 The
point of this discussion is to show the 32d MAU did most of
its specific training for the contingency operations while
in MODLOC. The MAU had written procedures and historical
studies on NEO operations. These assets probably
contributed to the successful NEO on 25 June 1982 and to the
low dysentery rate while operating in Lebanon.
However, considering the amount of written material on
peacekeeping operations and its format, planning for the
evacuation of the PLO while on ship was probably done with
little formal guidelines. The 32d MAU departed North
Carolina on 25 May. The MAU was ordered to MODLOC
"unexpectedly" on 7 June, and to standby for the PLO
evacuation mission on 16 August. While a fairly significant
amount was written on peacekeeping operations, it was not in
any military manuals in 1982. Therefore written procedures
and historical studies were probably not available to the
32d MAU before landing in Beirut on 25 August 1982.
This assumption seems valid since individuals discussed
how helpful historical studies of NEOs had been, but make no
mention how studies on peacekeeping had helped carry out the
PLO evacuation. Therefore, it can also be concluded
whatever Marines knew about peacekeeping operations when
committed on 25 August came from an intuitive appreciation
of the situation, rather than from in-depth study or mastery
of the subject.
Given the lack of specialized peacekeeping training,
MNF I went surprisingly well. The 32d MAU won high praise
for the part it played especially given the unique and
highly volatile nature of the environment.21 Some specific
incidents and statements show the Marines had a correct
appreciation for the situation and acted accordingly.
First, Colonel Mead felt large weapon systems such as
tanks and artillery may have an adverse effect on the
Syrians and PLO. Therefore, the forces that went ashore
were lightly armed. Also, the Marines that went ashore did
not put magazines in their weapons. As explained by
Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship, the no magazine decision was
a deliberate decision that was designed to show the LAF, who
was responsible for the security of U. S. forces, the
Marines trusted them.22 The BLT Commander, Lieutenant
Colonel Johnston also stated magazines were not inserted,
but at critical times designated marksmen did have loaded
weapons and were ready to engage targets if necessary.23
The use of designated marksmen suggests the
tactical-level commanders clearly understood the
peacekeeping principle of minimum use of force but at the
same time had a clear appreciation for the danger of an
external threat. The responsibility for designated marksmen
would be well known among the Marines; however, from outside
the unit, the designated marksmen would appear like every
other Marine. Since twelve out of thirteen Marines had
their magazines removed, the threat of force was well
The rules of engagement (ROE) were designed to clearly
explain and guide the use of force. Marines were authorized
to use force in self-defense, but some leaders had a great
concern over how they would react on the ground.24 Because
of their importance, the ROE were memorized and drilled
rigorously, the same way a Marine would be tested on his
general orders.25 While the drilling and memorization were
good, it was only the first step. Marines could not
anticipate every action that might threaten their safety
during the evacuation. Instead of straight memorization of
the ROE, Marines needed to develop judgment concerning their
use. Situational exercises were used, but with questionable
In one interview, an officer gave an example of a
situation explaining how Marines learned the ROE. The
example went something like this: "If a guy shoots at you
and you feel it is directed fire and what not, then use
minimal force necessary to take care of the situation. If
he is shooting at you with small arms, you can return the
fire with small arms and so forth."26 This example is not a
good one for situational training since: (1) it provides a
situation with no "gray area," and (2) it addresses only one
response. In an attempt to keep the ROE simple, the
situations Marines may have faced were over simplified.
While tactical-level leaders recognized the importance
of understanding the ROE and knew situational training was a
good means to develop judgment, this example suggests they
lacked the experience to create realistic examples of what
types of situations Marines might face. Unlike conventional
combat operations for which BLT 2/8 had trained and been
evaluated on, they had never trained for peacekeeping
operations. Since they had no training and no standards to
compare their performance with, they had to make up their
own standards. Because they had no examples of peacekeeping
operations, they had no certainty the procedures and
standards they had developed were correct.
Despite this lack of certainty, numerous examples of
good judgment exist. One example involves the turnover of
the port from the French to the USMNF control. While going
into port on landing craft, the Marines saw the French flag
flying above the port. When the Marines arrived and assumed
responsibility for the port, the first thing they did was
strike the French flag and raise the Lebanese national
colors.27 Given that one of the most famous images of
Marines is the American flag raising at Iwo Jima, raising
the Lebanese flag seems ironic. To not automatically raise
the American flag shows deliberate forethought that took
into account the mission and situation.
This incident reveals outstanding judgment; however,
was this action deliberate or just a coincidence? Colonel
Mead tries not to make too much of this incident in his
article, but his Operations Officer, Lieutenant Colonel
Blankenship, who was in the boat with him at the time the
French flag was first sighted (along with about 100 other
Marines), views the incident differently. In an interview,
Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship explains that Colonel Mead
used the French flag sighting as an opportunity to make a
point to Marines on the landing craft. Colonel Mead made
sure Marines understood that the flag represented
colonialism and arrogance to the Lebanese. Lieutenant
Colonel Blankenship also noted that the raising of the
Lebanese flag by U. S. Marines did not go unnoticed by
journalists, both Lebanese and foreign alike.28
Other examples show that even though Marines did not
receive extensive specialized training, they could carry out
the peacekeeping mission. The next example occurred at
checkpoint 54, the entrance to the port. The USMNF
anticipated the arrival of Yassir Arafat around 1100 on 30
August. Everything was going as planned when Arafat arrived
unexpectedly at 1000. Not only had he arrived early, but
French vehicles along with French Ambassador Henri were
positioned in front and behind Arafat's vehicle. As soon as
the crowd outside the port, a mix of local civilians and
media realized Arafat was in the center vehicle they started
to cheer and tried to surround Arafat. The Marines at the
checkpoint had distinct orders about not letting vehicles
other than the PLO through the checkpoint because earlier
the simultaneous arrival of French, Italian, and PLO at the
port had caused problems.29 The perimeter security was in
danger of being breached.30 Fortunately Colonel Mead and
Lieutenant Colonel Johnston arrived on the scene. The two
most senior officers organized the Marines to push the crowd
back and Lieutenant Colonel Johnston directed the lead
French vehicles through and off to the side.31 With the
route open, the vehicle carrying Arafat could drive inside.
The potential for Arafat to be assassinated in the
confusion was high. The presence of the two senior
commanders narrowly avoided a catastrophe. While the
Marines were doing exactly as they were told, they were not
doing what should have been done. Had they realized all the
implications of refusing access, quite possibly they would
have acted differently. Even Lieutenant Colonel Johnston
delayed making a decision until he checked with the
diplomatic chain to determine if the French had been
approved access. He was reluctant to yield to the French
because it appeared as if they were saying Arafat needed
their security despite the security provided by Marines.32
However, when he did make a decision, he kept the situation
from taking another turn for the worse by quietly waving the
French vehicles off to the side keeping them from mixing
with other forces inside the perimeter.
This event ended the way it did because the senior
leaders were at the point of crisis at the right time. Part
of the reason they were on the scene was they identified the
arrival of Arafat as a critical event. However, when Arafat
arrived early and the French acted unexpectedly, it created
a situation for which the Marines lacked the highly
developed judgment required to disobey their task in order
to satisfy the purpose of their task. If a similar
situation developed when key leaders were not close to the
scene, the results could have turned out quite differently.
This event also raises another point. Part of the
mission statement read, "[M]aintain close and continuous
contact with other MNF members." How could the French
arrive unexpectedly? No central command had been
established. Even though liaison officers had been
exchanged, their effectiveness is questionable because
individuals were not specially trained for liaison duty.
Therefore, when a problem came up, Lieutenant Colonel
Johnston did not check with his liaison party but went
through the State Department over hand-held radio.33 This
lack of trained liaison teams created an awkward
communications path from one military force through a
civilian agency to another military force. Difficulties
translating not only from French to English but from
civilian to military terminology created relay delays at a
time all members of the MNF needed to be working together
Another difficulty the 32d MAU had was appearing to be
neutral. A key requirement of peacekeeping is to remain
impartial, but, possibly, Marines could be used by either
the IDF or the PLO to gain political advantage. Although
the Marines were a highly disciplined unit, they could be
manipulated or tricked into not being neutral in many ways.
One way to prevent them from being manipulated was to
prohibit direct communications with the IDF or the PLO. All
communications were to be done through the LAF, with whom
the Marines were allowed to talk. This way, in theory,
Marines could not be manipulated by either side.
While this prohibition may appear to be a good solution
to the problem, it severely handicapped the Marines,
especially in situations requiring quick reaction. In
effect, the ROE and the no-talk policy took decisionmaking
responsibility away from the small units and placed it at
the highest tactical-level or even some times at the
diplomatic level. Marines had to carry out their duties
exactly as tasked instead of in accordance with an
overarching intent. One example has already been given to
show how rigid adherence to orders can be dangerous. Given
the many different situations that could face the individual
peacekeeper, the policy of centralized negotiating authority
goes against what was stated in Chapter Two about the
weapons of peacekeepers being "negotiation, mediation, quiet
diplomacy...not the self-loading rifle."34
However, this next example shows why centralized
negotiation may have been justified and prudent. As stated
earlier, the IDF overwatched the entire evacuation from the
buildings surrounding the port. The MAU headquarters did
have direct communications with the IDF, who would
frequently call with complaints about prohibited weapons
passing through checkpoint 54. When they complained, the
Israelis would also block the flow of traffic coming into or
out of the port, and the evacuation got seriously
The communications net was manned by Lieutenant Colonel
Blankenship, the 32d MAU Operations Officer. In an
interview, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship commented that he
got quite frustrated with the Israelis constantly calling to
complain (usually inaccurately) about weapons getting on the
ship. He went on to say how perturbed he became at the
Israeli officer on the other end of the line because the
Israeli was only a captain and knew he was talking to a
lieutenant colonel. Still, the Israeli was demanding and
disrespectful. Finally, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship told
the Israeli captain he was turning the handset over to a
lance corporal clerk who would relay the Israeli
Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship was very clever and
avoided being manipulated through his anger. However, this
example shows how easy the Israelis could bring out anger by
understanding American military culture. Most likely the
abruptness and disrespect were deliberate to show Israel
does not respond passively to every wish of the United
States.37 The fact that they were able to anger a
relatively senior and experienced officer is evidence that
the Israelis were masters of manipulation. Thomas Friedman,
in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, makes a similar
observation concerning Middle East culture in general.
Western culture, which is very direct, is extremely
vulnerable to a culture that for thousands of years has
practiced the indirect.38 Had a less experienced individual
been angered by the Israelis, he might not have been as
clever in diffusing the situation.
The dilemma for Marines in Lebanon was that they had to
deal with parties whose culture they knew nothing about.
These parties, however, understood American culture very
well. In this context the no-talk policy begins to make
sense. Still, the policy was far from the ideal policy. In
an ideal world, the policy would have allowed Marines to
talk to the PLO and IDF when needed to carry out their
mission, but also Marines would have been culturally savvy
and knowledgeable on peacekeeping to avoid showing
favoritism. The only way to make Marines culturally aware
is through training and education. At the time of the
Beirut contingency, the 32d MAU could not carry out that
training to the required degree.
1 Frank, 12.
2 Frank, 21.
3 Frank, 14-17.
4 Schiff and Ya'ari, 208.
5 Schiff And Ya'ari, 209. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli
Minister of Defense opposed the use of U. S. Marines because
he felt they would be manipulated by the PLO, and,
therefore, Israel's interest would not be served.
6 Commodore Richard F. White as quoted by Mead I, 36.
These observations were taken from a letter written by the
Commander Amphibious Squadron 4. This letter is also found
in Benis Frank, 17.
7 Lieutenant Colonel Dennis R. Blankenship, USMC. 5-3
32d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 13
January 1983, 23. Here after referred to as Blankenship.
8 Blankenship, 22-25.
10 Schiff And Ya'ari, 227.
11 White as quoted in Mead I, 36.
12 Battalion Landing Team 2/8 letter to Commanding
Officer, 32d Marine Amphibious Unit, RC/dcz, 3000, subject:
"Battalion Landing Team 2/8 Postdeployment Report for
Landing Force Sixth Fleet 2-82," 16 Nov 1982, 1. Here after
referred to as 2/8 postdeployment report.
13 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines letter to Commandant of the
Marine Corps (code HD), 5750, subject: "Command Chronology
for the period 1 January 1982 - 31 December 1982," 3 January
1983, 7. Here after referred to as 2/8 Command Chronology.
14 2/8 postdeployment report, 16.
15 2/8 postdeployment report, 40. See also, Major
William H. Barnetson, USMC. CO MSSG 32, 32d MAU at Camp
Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 12 January 1983,
16 2/8 postdeployment report, 32.
17 2/8 postdeployment report, 32.
18 2/8 postdeployment report, 32.
19 Mead 1st article, 31.
20 Blankenship, 5 and 44. See also, Barnetson, 16.
21 32d MAU received numerous letters and personal phone
calls to include one from President Reagan and another from
the Secretary of Defense. See Frank, 19-21.
22 Blankenship, 30. He also explained no magazines
inserted was for a secondary purpose of preventing
accidental discharges. This is puzzling considering BLT 2/8
had won the 2d Marine Division Marksmanship Award for
calendar year 1982 and was highly proficient with weapons.
See 2/8 Command Chronology.
23 Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Johnston, USMC, Commanding
Officer BLT 2/8, 32d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by
Ron Spector, 20. Here after referred to as Johnston.
24 Blankenship, 57.
25 Blankenship, 42.
26 Blankenship, 42.
27 Mead 1st article, 32.
28 Blankenship, 21.
29 Frank, 17.
30 Mead 1st article, 38.
31 Blankenship, 28.
32 Johnston, 17-19.
33 Johnston, 19.
34 Rikye, et al., 12-13.
35 Johnston, 16
36 Blankenship, 23.
37 Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship stated the MAU
frequently found IDF soldiers inside the port warehouses.
At other times, Israeli tanks and APCs would come up to the
port, and Marines would have to block them by standing in
front of them. The Israeli passive-aggressive behavior may
be linked to the highest levels. When President Reagan told
Begin he wanted the IDF to return to the 1 August 1982 lines
outside of Beirut, Schiff and Ya'ari describe Begin as
saying, "Jews do not kneel but to God." When Ariel Sharon,
Israeli Minister of Defense, wanted to stop the PLO
evacuation because some jeeps got on ship in violation of
the agreement, Ambassador Morris Drapier suggested the
Israelis overlook the jeeps because they were harmless and,
"Before you know it, Reagan will be on the line with Begin."
See Schiff and Ya'ari, 221-228.
38 Friedman, 126-127, 190-194, and 205-207. Although
Friedman does not make this exact statement, the first half
of his book's theme is both the Israelis and the United
States did not understand the true nature of the Lebanon
situation because they were blinded by their desire to
achieve national objectives.
MNF II lasted longer than MNF I. Although 32d MAU was
the first MAU to go ashore, four different MAUs occupied the
ground during MNF II. As discussed in Chapter Two, MNF II
can be broken into three phases: (1) initial landing to
Israeli withdrawal, (2) Israeli withdrawal to BLT 1/8
headquarters bombing, and (3) headquarters bombing to
withdrawal of U. S. forces.
This chapter will analyze the first and second phases
above because the return of the USMNF was intended to give
assurances to the Lebanese people the Israelis would not be
allowed to overlook another Sabra and Shatilla massacre.
Marines were interposed between Israeli forces and the
Muslim villages surrounding Beirut. The presence was
intended to bolster the feeling of security of the Lebanese
people long enough until the LAF could be trained and
organized to carry out its own security for the sovereignty
The first thing that will be examined is whether the
MAUs were organized and equipped to carry out their
missions. Colonel Mead wrote that before going into Beirut
the second time, the MAU recognized it did not have all the
right tactical forces to accomplish its mission. He made
reference to the MAU's "carte blanche" and requested all the
forces the MAU would need for MNF II. In less than 36
hours, the requested forces were at the MAU's position.1
Furthermore, when the 32d MAU was relieved by 24th MAU
commanded by Colonel Stokes, all 183 of the 32d MAU's
augmentation force were turned over to the 24th MAU.2
Colonel Stokes' MAU was relieved by Colonel Mead and a
similar transfer of assets occurred again. When Colonel
Geraghty's 24th MAU relieved Colonel Mead's 22d MAU, it
acquired not only the assets from the previous MAUs but also
a U. S. Army Field Artillery School Target Acquisitions
Battery (FASTAB) .3
Another significant point is that when 32d MAU first
arrived, not all of its organic equipment came ashore. BLT
2/8 did not bring its tanks or artillery ashore because of
the nature of the mission. The personnel and crews that
operated this equipment were employed as provisional
infantry. When Colonel Stokes' MAU arrived, he brought the
tanks and 105mm artillery ashore.4 When Colonel Geraghty's
24th MAU arrived, 155mm artillery replaced the 105mm
artillery, and it was "teamed up" with counter-battery
radar. All these points indicate that if the MAUs lacked
the proper assets or special equipment needed to accomplish
their mission, this shortfall was only because the MAU
Commander had failed to request that equipment.
Similar to MNF I, the BLTs had the majority of the
forces on the ground during MNF II. This distribution of
forces ashore is not to imply the other major subordinate
elements (MSEs) of the MAU were not important. The MSSGs
were major contributors providing sustainment, habitability,
engineering, and explosive ordnance disposal support as well
as providing maintenance, postal, exchange, and dental
services.5 However the mission of the MSSG during MNF II
was similar to its mission anywhere it would be deployed.
Major Barnetson, MSSG 32's Commanding Officer, said, "The
only difference between the job we are doing here and
anywhere else is that here we do it with someone shooting at
us."6 While arguably the personnel of MSSG 32 needed some
special training such as terrorism countermeasures and
reporting, its commander saw the mission as generally the
same. Therefore, training of the MSSGs before deployment
will not be evaluated.
Similarly, the ACE made a huge contribution providing
assault support in the form of passenger transport and
logistical support and even provided some aerial
reconnaissance. However, the ACE conducted its mission very
similar to the way they would on a normal deployment or even
in combat. Lieutenant Colonel Granville R. Amos wrote,
From 1 July 1983 through 31 December 1983, HMM-261
performed every mission that a composite squadron could
be tasked to do. The fruits of the squadron's emphasis
on tactical training prior to LF6F 1-84 were realized
during Operation Urgent Fury, and again in Beirut.7
Therefore, the training conducted by the various ACEs before
deployment will not be evaluated either.
The training conducted by BLT 2/8 has already been
discussed in the previous section. While they received all
their specialized training for the contingency while on
ship, the quality and level of detail of that training come
into question since they lacked the material needed to
conduct thorough training on the specific situation.
BLT 3/8 was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for the
24th MAU, the second MAU to go ashore during MNF II. BLT
3/8 had deployed on 24 August 1982 and had conducted two
amphibious training exercise en route to Beirut.8 Before
its deployment, BLT 3/8 had focused its training on tasks
that would be conducted during these training exercise. In
other words, BLT 3/8 had prepared for combat, not
peacekeeping. This unit's command chronology for the period
just before deployment shows it had conducted the same
pattern of training exercises as had BLT 2/8.9 Like its
predecessor, BLT 3/8 had no idea it would be employed in
Lebanon before its departure from Camp Lejeune. Therefore
any specialized peacekeeping training was conducted on ship
with the same limited assets as BLT 2/8.
One thing BLT 3/8 did have, which BLT 2/8 did not have,
was the opportunity to read message traffic and intelligence
summaries in an attempt to discover early lessons learned by
the 32d MAU. Additionally, BLT 3/8 was able to conduct a
leaders' reconnaissance the day before landing. During this
time, the unit they were relieving gave them all the
information they could based on their limited experience
Major Christopher M. Ayers, the Operations Officer for
BLT 3/8 talked about training during the transit and major
People are also concerned about differences between
police action--which we are not empowered to do--and
activities, measures taken for our own self
defense--which we are empowered to do. The lines got
blurred in the PFC level sometimes, so during the
transit we had to clarify that [difference] to make
everyone know that the only active measures that we
could take were in our own self defense after the
source had been identified.11
This quote shows the BLT knew something was different about
their mission and worked hard to highlight those
differences. Without resources such as historical examples,
the leaders had to "clarify" the situation based on their
own judgment. Major Ayers goes on to say this:
My major concern was an overreaction by the Marines.
There was, of course, by virtue of the age and grade of
many people like myself having not been in combat, I
was afraid that maybe too many of our Marines would be
over anxious or would expect too much out there.12
Major Ayers speaks of the dilemma that small-unit leaders
had no point of reference from which to teach.
The first BLT that was not already deployed when
Marines were committed in Lebanon was BLT 2/6, which was
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Anderson. In an
interview, the battalion commander outlined the training his
unit conducted before deployment. Training consisted of air
alert; fireteam, squad, and platoon training; company
tactics and a battalion MCCRES in October; and a Combined
Arms Exercise during the last two weeks in October.13
Interestingly, the training sounds just like the training
for BLTs 2/8 and 3/8.
BLT 2/6 joined the 22d MAU on 24 November 1982 but did
not know right up to deployment whether or not they would be
committed in Lebanon. As a result of this uncertainty, BLT
2/6 gave up the opportunity to gain expertise on
peacekeeping from the subject matter experts. Since the 22d
MAU, the larger organization to which BLT 2/6 belonged, had
deployed and returned from Beirut, there was some experience
starting at the top with the MAU Commander, Colonel Mead.
However, most of the experience in peacekeeping was gained
while on the ground through an "intuitive" approach rather
than through a rigorous analytical approach examining
numerous previous peacekeeping operations. BLT 2/6 lost a
valuable opportunity to learn from both previous UN
peacekeeping experience and scholarly study.
In the same interview, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson
An infantry battalion can do a mission like this, but
you need some time to prepare for it. Luckily we had
some time. I think if you would drop one [BLT] in here
initially, it would be very, very tight.14
He went on to say he felt the 27 days his battalion had was
enough time.15 Included in this time were 17 days transit
BLT 1/8 was the GCE for 24th MAU. When the 24th MAU
relieved the 22d MAU, BLT 1/8 took over the positions of BLT
2/6. This battalion returned from its last deployment in
June 1982. Between 30 June 1982 and 11 May 1983, the
battalion changed its commanders two times, stood follow-on
air alert twice and primary air alert once. Its individual
companies participated in a week-long amphibious refresher
training course, and the battalion as a whole had deployed
to Fort Pickett, Virginia for fire support coordination
training and mech and counter-mech training. It stood a
Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRES) before
deployment, and conducted an amphibious workup with the 24th
MAU just before departing the U.S.16
Ironically, BLT 1/8 deployed to Lebanon nine months
after BLT 2/8 went ashore and yet their training schedules
looked almost identical. The only mention of specialized
peacekeeping training was in its command chronology that
stated, "During the first part of May, the battalion spent
preparing to carry out its duties as the U. S. contingent to
the Multi National Peace Keeping [sic] Force in Beirut,
Lebanon."17 While this statement sounds as if BLT 1/8
conducted some specialized training, examination of the
other events during May suggests perhaps this training was
primarily conducted on ship similar to the way BLT 2/6 had
conducted their training. The command chronology list the
events during May as:
Click here to view image
Table 2 shows that BLT 1/8 was in a deployed status for
alsmost two-thirds of May. The time between the maximum
leave period and the deployment date would be taken up with
inspections, preparations, property turn-in, last minute
administrative details, and movement to embarkation points.
While BLT 1/8 possibly did train before embarkation, more
likely most of the training was conducted once on ship.
Benis Frank reinforces this idea when he writes:
Colonel Geraghty also gave a three-hour personal
briefing to embarked Marines and Phibron crew members
in which he covered the Marine-Air Ground Task Force
organization; 24th MAU organization; the history,
religions, politics, and social culture of the
Lebanese; the foreign and domestic factions in Lebanon;
the rules of land warfare and engagement; public
affairs matters and naval intelligence and
From this passage, two points come to mind. First, the
information briefed by Colonel Geraghty is too much material
to cover in just three hours. Second, considering five
ships were in the ATF, too much time was dedicated by the
highest ranking officer in the MAU at a time he must have
been very busy. The amount of time the MAU commander spent
briefing Marines indicates he felt this information was very
important. It may also indicate he was the only individual
in the MAU who possessed all this information. Just two
days before sailing, Colonel Geraghty had attended briefings
in Washington at the Department of State and Headquarters
United States Marine Corps. 20 Also, while it may have been
possible to visit all the ships, the LST 1188 USS Harlan
County, was carrying causeways that usually prohibit
transferring personnel at sea. This complication would
make it very difficult for the MAU commander to address the
Marines on this ship. Therefore, even if special training
was scheduled for the Marines, this training was highly
dependent on a few subject matter experts who may not always
have been available.
A conclusion from the above discussion is all units had
about the same amount and type of peacekeeping training.
BLTs 2/6 and 1/8 could have had more peacekeeping training
than BLTs 2/8 and 3/8 if their operational tempo had been
less rigorous. However, they would have had to realize the
unique aspects of their mission was covered by several
studies, but they did not. As a result of these factors,
most if not all training for the USMNF had tc be conducted
on ship during transit. Unfortunately, once deployed, the
Marines lacked the assets, such as written material and
subject matter experts to train effectively.
Peacekeeping Tactics: The Tools
Having looked at the training, we will now look at the
tactical deployment of the GCEs. In an interview, Major
Jack Farmer who had been the assistant operations officer
for 32d MAU and later the operations officer for the 22d MAU
explained the thought process behind how forces were
positioned at the international airport. His description
provides a very logical development of tactical level
activities to execute the USCINCEUR plan and reflects an
iterative process that involves a give and take between
higher and lower level commands. As an example, the 32d MAU
was stretched very thin along the section of line it had
been assigned. The MAU informed USCINCEUR that it could not
defend the line because the line was stretched too thin.
USCINCEUR responded that was okay because it never intended
the MAU to defend the entire line, it only wanted a presence
along the line. The MAU was able to accomplish its task
through a series of strongpoints.21
BLT 2/8 probably had input on the location of actual
positions because in his postdeployment report, the
battalion commander explains the designated line and each
checkpoint along the line. Plotting all the checkpoints on
the map shows a clear, neat line of positions.22 By keeping
the IDF to the east and southeast of the line, the USMNF
created a buffer for the heavily populated Muslim suburbs of
Beirut. Major Farmer explained how this line accomplished
the mission when he stated:
The local Shiite population knew that the Israelis
would not open fire or would not continue any
aggressive acts against them simply because we were
there in the way. And that is the real meaning of the
Unfortunately, the line established on the map was not
as clear on the ground. A considerable amount of
"jockeying" had to be done to take into account the heavily
populated areas just outside the airport. Instead of
running outside the Muslim neighborhoods shielding them from
the IDF, the line ran through them. This positioning of the
strongpoints made it difficult at certain locations to see
the exact location of the USMNF lines.24 Additionally, the
line did not extend as far as initially assigned because to
do so would cut off the IDF from the Sidon Road, a route
which they claimed they needed to resupply its forces
located to the north.25
In another interview conducted after the headquarters
bombing, Major Farmer reflects in hindsight how positioning
the USMNF along the originally intended line would have
placed the Marines between the towns of Kfar Shima, which
was Christian, and Ash Shuyafat, which was Muslim. He goes
on to explain this may have been helpful when the IDF
finally did withdraw in maintaining the peace.26 However,
Major Farmer who knew all the political, physical, and
cultural considerations involved in the original positioning
of forces was not present when the IDF withdrew in September
1982. While 32d MAU had originally established the line,
Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU, which was present, was the
fourth MAU to occupy the same line. As a result of the
frequent turnovers, the considerations for positioning the
USMNF lines (for example, why not extend between Kfar Shima
and Ash Shuyafat) may have become lost.
This idea is reinforced by things that happened to
Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU. This was the second MAU ashore.
Colonel Stokes analyzed his "presence" mission and decided
the real way to achieve success was to get out on the Sidon
Road. He arranged for permission, and, on 5 December 1982,
a Marine patrol moved along the Sidon Road.27 In his
doctoral thesis, Dr. Matthews, who also happened to be the
BLT 3/8 Commander wrote, "[O]ne elderly Druze lady asked,
'Where have you guys been? why [sic] haven't you been here
sooner? We are so tired of killing, maybe it will all end
now that you're here.'"28 These patrols lasted for about a
week with good results. No more ambushes were conducted
along the road, and all the armed control points of the
various militias and factions had disappeared. On 10
December 1982, the Marines were order to stop patrolling.29
Dr. Matthews concludes the reasons behind this decision were
diplomatic in nature and involved Israel.30
Colonel Mead's 22d MAU relieved Colonel Stokes' 24th
MAU. Continuity existed here because at a minimum both
Colonel Mead and Major Farmer had been with the 32d MAU.
These officers understood the USMNF positions were based on
the original mission and were constrained by diplomatic
agreements with Israel. Previously, while commanding the
32d MAU, Colonel Mead had noticed what appeared to be some
"heavy-handed" tactics on the part of the LAF against the
Palestinians and Muslim squatters living just outside the
airport.31 Although he was concerned at the time, he also
stated the poor treatment by the LAF did not seem to build
any hostility on the part of the Muslims towards the Marines
and they were not targeted.32 Colonel Mead had just come to
this conclusion when his MAU rotated home.
About one month after the 24th MAU was ashore, it
commenced training the LAF on a not-to-interfere basis with
other duties.33 In reality, the MAU attacked this task
aggressively and welcomed the opportunity to keep busy.34
One can only wonder what Colonel Mead's reaction would have
been to the request to provide LAF training after he had
just witnessed the LAF clear squatter camps and buildings
overlooking the airport using fire and maneuver and leveling
shanty villages with bulldozers.35 However, since the 24th
MAU started training the LAF, when Colonel Mead returned in
February 1983, his 22d MAU continued the training.
The 22d MAU was relieved by the 24th MAU which was
commanded by Colonel Geraghty. While the 24th MAU was in
Lebanon, the IDF withdrew south of the Awali River. Now,
the main conflict that needed "presence" was the conflict
among the LAF, the Christian militia, and the Muslim
militias. Perhaps Colonel Geraghty would have selected
different positions or expanded Marine lines had he
witnessed earlier events. At a minimum, he may have opted
to distance himself from the LAF had he witnessed earlier
harsh measures used against the communities surrounding the
airport. Another possibility is perhaps Colonel Geraghty
saw all these events and tried to take other action but was
prohibited for political reasons. Even if this were the
case, it lends support to the point that frequent changes of
the MAUs disrupted continuity.
Another example that illustrates this point is the
positioning of assets ashore. Colonel Mead made the
deliberate decision to leave his tanks and artillery on ship
to avoid the appearance of being a hostile force. However,
Colonel Stokes saw these assets as essential because the
USMNF was tasked to be prepared to conduct retrograde
operations.36 While the decision to bring these assets
ashore was based on deliberate forethought, to observers
outside the USMNF, nothing significant had happened between
the departure of the 32d MAU and the arrival of the 24th MAU
to motivate an increase in combat power ashore. To the
Druze and Amal militias, the change in combat power was an
increased threat, and it could be construed as coercion.
Colonel Mead faced a similar situation when he returned
with the 22d MAU. What would be the perception if the tanks
and artillery were returned to the ships? Colonel Mead had
to keep these assets ashore whether or not he thought he
needed them. To return them to the ship might show a
lessening of support to the LAF.
The presence of these weapons ashore takes on greater
significance considering the minimum use of force
peacekeeping principle. Intuitively, tanks are associated
more often with offensive than defensive operations. Since
force only has to be perceived, what at first seems like a
minor decison takes on new significance.
The inconsistency between the successive MAUs'
decisions can be attributed to the frequent turnover of
units and lack of direction from a common higher
headquarters. Table 3 below shows the period(s) each MAU
was ashore and the key personnel of each MAU headquarters.
Click here to view image
The median tour in country was three and one-half
months. While Colonel Geraghty's MAU stayed five and
one-half months, this was only because the MAU rotation was
changed from a four-battalion base (1/8, 2/8, 3/8,and 2/6)
to a three-battalion base (1/8, 2/8, and 3/8).38 Table 3
sheds light on the issue of continuity. Just as commanders
got familiar with the situation and area, a new MAU with a
new commander arrived. Even when Colonel Mead remained the
22d MAU Commander, his staff changed and (not shown in Table
3) all three of his MSEs changed as well.39
Earlier studies on peacekeeping had found the ideal
tour length for peacekeeping troops was six months, but for
peacekeeping staffs the ideal tour length was one to two
years.40 Had peacekeeping received greater study before
using the six-month forward-deployed MAUs, this fact may
have been considered. At a minimum, it would have been
possible to establish a special staff that remained
permanently in Beirut for continuity sake. The special
staff could have absorbed the MAU staff similar to the way
Brigadier General Jim R. Joy's staff absorbed Colonel
Faulkner's 22d MAU staff. While this may not have solved
all problems, it would have at least minimized
inconsistencies between the MAUs.
In addition to positioning forces between hostile
parties, another tactic used by the USMNF was patrolling.
The 32d MAU used patrolling to keep in contact with its
squad-sized checkpoints in the Muslim town of Hay es Salaam
and its most distant positions at the Lebanese University.41
Colonel Stokes expanded on this patrol plan by sending
motorized patrols north into East and West Beirut.42 This
was intended to show the Muslims the Marines were going to
"stem any aggressive intentions by the dominant Christian
Phalange militia or other Christian forces operating under
IDF sponsorship."43 Finally, some saw patrols as a way to
get Marines out of the static positions and give them
something to do. This would make them feel they had
contributed to the stability of Beirut.44 It would also
prevent one of the biggest problems--boredom.45
Foot patrols were used around BIA. Major Arey, BLT
3/8's Operations Officer said patrols were a way to "extend
our presence and goodwill...to the people who lived around
BIA and saw the Marines in the street."46 One photograph in
Benis Frank's book shows a patrol at sling arms with
magazines removed walking through the street of Hay es
Salaam while civilians carry on business as normal.47 The
photograph shows how vulnerable Marines were to a terrorist
threat, which they compensated for with designated
marksmen48 and by varying their routes. Patrols would vary
their times and point of departures and time of return.
Using imagination, leaders even had patrols fly out and
return on foot to BIA.49
In addition to "showing the flag," the patrols would
look for signs that showed aggression. For the most part,
Marines were treated with open arms at first,50 but Eric
Hammel, author of The Root, noted Colonel Geraghty's 24th
MAU met increasing hostility as time went on.51 Initially,
when Marines met hostility, they called back to higher
headquarters. If it received a call, the BLT headquarters
dispatched an LAF liaison team. As hostilities increased in
intensity from verbal to physical assaults, Colonel Geraghty
proposed the patrols be accompanied by an LAF fireteam. 52
The motorized patrols, because of the distances, had always
used a liaison officer to accompany the patrol.53 The
combined U. S. and LAF patrols through the towns surrounding
BIA seemed like a good solution to a serious problem. Had
Colonel Geraghty seen the same treatment the LAF gave the
local population as had Colonel Mead, he probably would not
have recommended this solution.
As an interposition force, the USMNF was primarily
concerned with keeping the Israelis away from the city of
Beirut, especially from areas inhabited by Palestinians.
Major Farmer said,
The nature of the mission was one of presence, it was
peacekeeping just to provide a stabilizing factor
basically with us being there in the general location
of the IDF, to provide the local indigenous population
a feeling of security against the Israelis because of
the recent military events and political events that
had Israelis involved with Sabra, Shatilla massacre and
just the general military nature of the Israeli
disposition on the ground.54
The likelihood of Israeli attack against the USMNF
was virtually nonexistent,35 but the Israeli reaction to
sniper fire and terrorist threat posed a significant problem
to Marines. Israeli response would often spill over into
U. S. lines. When this happened, Marines were sent
scurrying for cover.56 In addition to spill over fire, it
seemed as if the Israelis were constantly testing the
legitimacy of the USMNF. Diplomatic agreements clearly
specified where the Israelis could and could not go.
However, on several occasions, the Israelis would try to
enter unauthorized areas. At first, these attempts were
made under the guise of poor land navigation.57 Other times
they were overt attempts to force or intimidate their way
into the USMNF's sector. The perimeter at the Lebanese
University was the site of the most overt attempts.
Captain Charles B. Johnson's Company L, BLT 3/8
occupied the Lebanese University position while Colonel
Stokes' 22d MAU was ashore. In an interview, Captain
Johnson related several incidents that occurred at his
position involving the Israelis. The first incident
involved the IDF patrols along the Sidon Road. After being
attacked on several different occasions by terrorist using
car bombs parked along the Sidon Road, the IDF began to use
the reconnaissance-by-fire technique as they patrolled.
They would patrol on a routine basis from south to north,
set up security, and later in the day return from north to
south. As the IDF patrol moved along the road, they would
periodically fire at what they determined to be suspected
terrorist positions. This tactic was very dangerous because
at anytime the fire could spill over into civilian
neighborhoods or even into the USMNF positions.58
On 10 January 1983 while using the reconnaissance-by-
fire technique, the IDF hit a local civilian bird hunter who
was mistaken for a terrorist. The hunter dropped his
"primitive" muzzle-loaded weapon, got in his car, and drove
into the nearby town. The IDF trailed the man but had to go
through the U. S./LAF checkpoint to get to the town. They
announced their intentions to go inside the perimeter and
search for the "terrorist." The Marines and the LAF
officer at the checkpoint refused to permit the IDF to pass
through. The company commander was at the airport at a
meeting and so the senior Marine on the scene was Captain
Kelsy, a forward air controller (FAC) attached to the
company. The FAC spoke to the Israeli officer and confirmed
they would not be allowed to pass. In the meantime, Captain
Johnson, the company commander arrived on the scene.
The Israelis restated their intentions and flagged down
three busses full of Israeli soldiers that were traveling
south on the Sidon Road. The situation became a very tense
standoff. Finally, all parties agreed the IDF would not be
given access but the LAF would search for the man. The LAF
went into the town and to the building where the man was
last seen. A short time later, the LAF returned and
informed the IDF the man could not be found. The IDF had no
other choice but to leave. As a result of this incident, an
emergency communications net was established between the
USMNF and the IDF.59
A week after this incident, on 17 January 1982, an IDF
vehicle patrol approached the combined U. S. and LAF
checkpoint near the university and demanded access. The
Marine on duty denied access and called the company
commander. Captain Johnson went to the checkpoint to
investigate. A reporter who had been doing a story on Lima
Company came along. When Captain Johnson arrived, he
repeated to the IDF patrol leader he could not pass. A
Marine stood in front of the lead vehicle to block the way.
The Israeli driver lurched forward by popping the clutch,
hit the Marine, and then braked the vehicle after knocking
the Marine back. Meanwhile, a U. S. Marine M60 machinegun
squad and a reaction squad set up just down the road from
the Israeli patrol. Although Captain Johnson insists they
did not load their weapons, the reporter wrote his story as
if they had.60 The Israelis left with no further
confrontation, but this incident created a heightened
awareness of tensions between the USMNF and IDF.
On 23 January 1982, a television news crew observed the
now publicized IDF reconnaissance-by-fire technique, and
they decided to film the action. The crew set up in a field
adjacent to the Sidon Road and filmed so overtly that the
Israeli patrol leader demanded they turn over the film. The
news team refused and moved within the USMNF area.61
The third incident, probably the best known, happened
on 2 February 1983. About a week prior, Captain Johnson had
noticed two Israeli armored personnel carriers (APCs) move
up to the fence marking the USMNF's position and stop. He
went down to the APCs and informed them they were at the
perimeter and could not enter. The vehicle commander
acknowledged Captain Johnson's statement and said he had
orders to wait there for 30 minutes and he would leave. In
almost exactly 30 minutes the APCs did leave.
The next week, Captain Johnson was on the roof of the
library building showing the Advance party for the British
contingent to the MNF some key points of the surrounding
area. He observed tanks moving down through the city, which
struck him as unusual because tanks were vulnerable to
attack in the narrow streets. He immediately went down to
the edge of his perimeter and stopped where the APCs had
stopped the previous week. The tanks came within 30 meters
of the same spot when he flagged down the lead tank. As
Captain Johnson stood with pistol drawn in front of the
tank, he informed the tank commander he could not enter the
perimeter and would have to run over him to do so. The
commander seemed to acknowledge and spoke into his
microphone to the other tanks. While the lead tank stopped,
the other two tanks raced forward. Captain Johnson jumped
on the stopped tank, pulled the tank commander to him, and
told him to stop the other tanks or he would kill him. The
tank commander complied, and the tanks stopped. He informed
Captain Johnson he was Lieutenant Colonel Lansberg, the
battalion commander of the Israeli force positioned at
Khalde, and then he departed.
Captain Johnson immediately called his battalion
commander who arrived on the scene shortly. After walking
the ground, they called the MAU commander, Colonel Stokes,
and informed him. As result of this incident, even more
attention was drawn by the media to the tensions between the
USMNF and IDF.
These examples imply Marines knew their
responsibilities and the level of force authorized. In each
incident, they used absolute minimum force often times
putting themselves in great danger to comply with this
principle. Even in the absence of the company commander,
other leaders provided sufficient depth of knowledge to
carry out the mission. Captain Johnson felt awkward dealing
with the Israelis because,
With the ROE the way they were and being that most
Americans identify with the religious struggle and so
forth of Israel [it was difficult], but we have our
orders. Very simple,...we weren't sent there to help
the Israelis. We were sent there to keep peace and to
help the Lebanese. I mean, that's just the way the
orders came down, and they will be followed. But it
was an awkward situation to deal with the Israelis. It
was a no win situation.62
All three of these incidents show Marines knew what to
do. Even though the situation was awkward, the situation
was also clear. When the situation was very clear, not only
did Marines know what to do, they willingly performed their
peacekeeping duty even though minimum use of force presented
great risk. Marines did not lock and load their weapons,
but they were in position ready to do so if necessary.
Israelis were not allowed to search Muslim towns inside the
USMNF perimeter, and Israeli tanks were stopped by the
extraordinary action of one individual. All these events
added credibility to the Marines' presence.
Two factors that should not be overlooked in these
examples are the presence of media and the status of Israel.
The Israelis seemed very concerned that their
reconnaissance-by-fire was captured on tape. Later, at the
checkpoint incident, a reporter was present in addition to a
reaction squad. The Captain Johnson and the IDF tank
commander incident made international headlines. Israel, a
legitimate government, had to answer to the world body.
These two facts combined may have tempered the IDF response.
Chapter Two discussed part of the theory of peacekeeping
that was the hostile parties would not want to be accused of
firing on the UN. In this situation, the same dynamic is
seen between the IDF and the USMNF. Perhaps in the case of
the IDF, the USMNF's most effective tactic would have been
positioning the television mini-camera.
This concept is not without precedence. At the start
of Operation PEACE FOR GALILEE, the IDF literally ran over
the Fijjian Battalion of the UN peacekeeping force assigned
to southern Lebanon (UNIFIL). Ten years earlier, the Danes
had successfully stopped the IDF by laying down their
weapons and linking their arms as they blocked the road.
The difference between the Danes and the Fijjians was the
Danes had their unit photographer off to the side in a safe
position filming the entire event.63
Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU may have been able to use
this tool against the IDF during its tour. In his thesis,
Lieutenant Colonel Matthews, USMC (retired) tells of an
interview he had with the 24th MAU's Intelligence Officer,
Captain Kevin McCarthy, concerning an incident with an IDF
tank unit on 8 June 1983. After hearing tank main gun fire,
Captain McCarthy, who was standing watch at the time, went
to a Marine checkpoint to investigate. He found an Israeli
captain who spoke English. The Israeli officer explained he
had received rocket fire and his tanks had just expended 100
high explosive rounds into Hay es Salaam.64 Captain
McCarthy was astonished but apparently felt he could do
nothing except report this incident up the chain of
command.65 What options were available? The MAU could not
attack the IDF tanks. Even if an attack were authorized,
the tanks were no longer firing and therefore did not meet
the criteria to engage. In this situation, the media option
appears to have been one of the better options. Had the
24th MAU been able to film this action and hold the IDF
accountable to the world for their action, Captain McCarthy
might have felt less helpless and the USMNF would have been
more effective creating a stable environment.
However, care must be taken in applying this lesson.
The conditions in this situation making media tactics
applicable do not always apply. When the IDF withdrew to
the south, factional fighting started up. Publicity would
not likely have quieted this fighting. It would most likely
have had the opposite effect as factions competed for world
attention to view the injustices they suffered. The
factions were not legitimate governments susceptible to
international pressure. If the media and world attention
are to be used as tools, judgment must be used when to apply
Although the USMNF seemed to be very successful during
the three incidents with the IDF, in a way the IDF also won.
These incidents were responsible for establishing direct
communications between the MAU and the IDF. This appears to
be what the IDF wanted all along. Colonel Mead noticed a
continuous Israeli attempt to bypass the government of
Lebanon. After meeting with diplomats and Israeli Brigadier
General Lfikin on 24 March 1982, to work out an agreement
for exchanging patrol information, Colonel Mead noted:
The IDF continued, however, to seek coordination
between the two units instead of a simple exchange of
information. This request was pressed repeatedly by
Defense Minister Arens and others. They continually
failed to acknowledge that the U. S. MNF presence in
Lebanon was a result of a request from the GOL and,
since the Israelis were invaders, our stance as
peacekeepers must be pro-Lebanon and neutral toward
Israel. If the Muslim Lebanese population perceived
our presence as one in coordination with the Israelis,
our safety and ability to accomplish the mission would
be drastically reduced.66
Initially, the USMNF did not establish
military-to-military communications with the IDF. One
reason may have been to lessen the decisionmaking
responsibility on the tactical forces. If, in a high
pressure situation such as the show-down between the Marines
at the Lebanese University and the IDF, the Marines were
able to say, "Let me check with higher headquarters,"
Marines would be under less pressure to make a quick
decision. Also, if Marines announced an unfavorable
decision, they would be less likely to receive additional
pressure since the decision would appear to be out of their
A second reason, and probably the most likely, was to
preserve the neutrality of the USMNF. If the Marines had no
communications with the IDF, it would be difficult to accuse
the USMNF of cooperating with the IDF. Colonel Stokes on
several occasions had to remind the Israelis all
communications must be directed through diplomatic
Although Colonel Mead understood the IDF's intentions
concerning direct communications, another incident
demonstrates his difficult position. On 7 May 1983, the
USMNF came under fire from what appeared to be spill over
fire from the mountains to the east. Additionally, several
rockets landed between Black Beach and the amphibious ships
just off the shore. The rocket fire was coming from just
outside Marine lines from an area normally patrolled by the
IDF. Colonel Mead ordered the Marines to standby to sweep
that area and then called the IDF and said if they did not
clear that area he would send U. S. forces out to do it. In
a short time the IDF sent a sweep through the area but never
found the gunner.
This incident viewed from the gunner's perspective
provides insight. From his point of view, the gunner fires
at U. S. ships and Marines, but the IDF looks for him. The
implications of these events are not hard to conceive. The
USMNF cooperated with the IDF. Similar to the idea
expressed by Captain Johnson, Colonel Mead was faced with a
no win situation dealing with the Israelis. The hotline
proved to be an in-extremis coordination net.
The question at this point is if the USMNF could
negotiate in an emergency with the IDF, why could they not
negotiate with the various militias surrounding the airport?
A likely answer involves the mission to support the
legitimate government of Lebanon. Negotiations with the
militias would recognize the militias as legitimate parties.
This would not support the legitimate government that was
trying to control the illegitimate militias.
Still, LAF liaison officers were located in the
building next to the MAU headquarters. Why could the
liaison officer not have had closer contact with the
militias? After all, if the Israelis started to shoot at
the USMNF, the Marines could use the hotline with the
Israelis to diffuse the situation. When the Druze or Amal
militias shot at the USMNF, the Marines had only two
options: (1) take cover and allow them to continue firing or
(2) fire back to silence the fire.
When the Marines did fire back, how effectively they
communicated their message to the militias is difficult to
tell. When Marines responded to hostile indirect fire on 29
August 1983, the first rounds fired were 81mm
illumination.69 While the illumination rounds were intended
to send a clear message to the militias to stop firing, the
actual message they sent could have been quite different.
The USMNF hoped the message was, "We have your position
located and can destroy you if you do not stop." However,
there are many other things these illumination rounds could
have been saying to the militias.
First, if the rounds were directly over the target they
could have been interpreted as "The Americans are not
willing to engage us with high explosive rounds and are
weak-hearted." In a culture that places a premium on brute
force and destructive power, this message is quite
However, another interpretation is equally likely. The
militia had the initiative. They fired first; the USMNF
fired second. If the militia wanted to alienate the USMNF
from the local population, the illumination rounds could be
a sign that they had. almost lured the Marines into engaging
them. They could retain the initiative by firing one more
indirect round on the Marines and then displacing. The
Marines would return fire with high explosive rounds but
would only do so based on the actions of the militia.
Therefore, the militia had absolute control. If the
illumination rounds were on target, the militias might not
fire on the Marines. If the warning rounds were over an
area they did not care about, they could fire with no fear.
If they wanted the rounds to hit civilians, they could even
position civilians under the illumination rounds before they
returned their second round.
A similar situation existed during patrolling
activities. If a civilian acted hostile to a Marine patrol,
the practice was to call back to headquarters and a Lebanese
liaison officer was sent to investigate. Marines had no
feedback on what caused the hostility. While they were the
targets of aggression, they never really knew why. In
response to a grenade attack on a 22d MAU patrol, the LAF
cordoned off an area and arrested over 100 people. One
suspect was convicted of the crime and was sentenced to
death.70 The LAF reported the suspect was pro-Amal. The
Amal were located around BIA in the same area the LAF had
swept when Colonel Mead was with the 32d MAU. The LAF could
have fabricated the story to justify their earlier actions.
In hindsight, the LAF, which wanted U. S. support, would not
tell the USMNF it was being attacked because of its support
to the LAF. The USMNF relied on information and
negotiations through a party very much involved in the
conflict. This reliance made the USMNF a party to the
conflict too and not a neutral third party.
The inability to communicate with all the local parties
led to an unclear situation. Unlike the situation with the
Israelis that was very clear, the firefights between the
surrounding militias was never clear. Major Arey said,
"[T]he longer we stayed there the more we knew, [but] the
less we understood it because of the merkiness [sic] of
Lebanese politics."71 Had the USMNF been able to
communicate with the local militias, they could have used
less force, provided more accurate intelligence to their
diplomats for negotiating, and accomplished their mission
Other events show the USMNF had a general idea of what
they were supposed to do but lacked the polish needed to be
totally effective. One example is a series of civil affairs
operations that were not tied together very well. All civic
action programs were carried out with the greatest
intentions and sincerity, however, because they were not
coordinated and exploited, their effectiveness was
negligible or even counterproductive. For example, the 22d
MAU set up a semi-pemanent dental facility at the airport
near the center of their lines. At first, Lebanese were
reluctant to come to this facility.72 However, over a
period of four months, MSSG 22 treated over 1,220 patients
in routine dental procedures.73 The immediate problem with
this program was its location. By having the dental clinic
at the airport and having the patients come to the clinic,
the Marines had no control over who benefited from the
treatment. Patients could have been fairly well off
Christians who did not pose a problem to the USMNF. If the
dental programs had been conducted in a Muslim neighborhood,
the beneficiaries would almost certainly be Muslim. In
other words the civic action programs were not targeted
towards a specific group, the group which the USMNF had to
try the hardest to avoid alienating.
Other civic action programs were also well-intentioned
but were carried out over too long a period. For example,
22d MAU started to build a playground for a children's
school in Burj al Burajneh. They could not finish the
playground in time and so MSSG 24 had to finish it later.74
What message was being sent to the local population? The
Marines could not even build a playground.
What would have happened if the Marines had brought the
materials and equipment to the site and helped the local
civilians build the playground instead of building it for
them? What if the dental programs had been conducted in the
middle of town and as people waited to be seen, they spoke
about their problems and asked why the Marines were in
Lebanon? The effectiveness of these programs could have
been greatly increased. While the Marines intuitively knew
civic action was good, they lacked the expertise to exploit
the benefits it could have provided. These were lost
Another event involved the 22d MAU during rescue
operations in the Chouf mountains after the area had been
hit by a huge snowstorm. The Marines carried out a very
difficult mission to reach civilians stranded in the
mountains. In addition to the environmental factors, the
mission was especially complex because the civilians were
stranded behind Syrian lines. The 22d MAU order is a
textbook example of a five-paragraph order with numerous
details coordinating the activity of all three MSEs.75 The
Marines were successful in this operation. They did relieve
suffering for some civilians; however, their overall mission
was to support the legitimate government of Lebanon.
Instead, the USMNF took over a function of the legitimate
government of Lebanon. While only the USMNF had the
equipment that made it possible to conduct this mission, the
LAF could have accompanied the Marines on this mission. If
legitimacy were the issue, then credit for the rescue
operation should have gone to the LAF. In the Commander's
comments section of a special situation report concerning
the rescue operations, Colonel Mead wrote, "Professionalism
displayed by all Marines and sailors further boosted the
reputation and image of the Marine Corps in the eyes of the
Lebanese people."76 Colonel Mead's concern for the can-do
image of his Marines may have influenced his decision to
exclude the LAF during this mission.
There are numerous other examples that show Marines
were well-intentioned and eager to carry out their mission
but lacked the expertise and knowledge to fully and
effectively carry it out. As discussed in Chapter Two, one
of the principles of peacekeeping is minimum use of force.
Some types of force are very easy to understand. The use of
weapons is a clear use of force. Some other types of force,
such as the use of barriers, are not as clear but qualify as
force. The threat of force is also the use of force. The
threat of force does not have to be actual; it only has to
be perceived. With this as background, we will now discuss
crosstraining with other members of the MNF.
The Marines recognized their peacekeeping mission was
detracting from their primary mission of warfighting. To
compensate for this, the 22d and 24th MAUs sent about 120
Marines to Camp Des Garrigues, France for training to
maintain their combat skills.77 In addition to training
outside Lebanon, Marines began to train inside Lebanon as
well. This training often included other members of the
MNF, especially the French. While the Italians were
invited, they always seemed too busy to come.78 Some of the
multinational crosstraining involved firing each country's
small arms. This was a low visibility exercise involving
platoon-sized units from both the U. S. Marines and the
French. Other training exercises took on higher visibility.
The 22d MAU and both 24th MAUs conducted amphibious
assaults from U. S. ships to Black Beach. The U. S. ships
were highly visible and no doubt these amphibious operations
were visible from the coastal road and especially from the
hills surrounding BIA. Amphibious assaults are
unquestionably offensive operations. With no formal
announcements explaining the purpose of these exercises to
the local populace, one can imagine what the Muslim militias
thought as amphibious vehicles and helicopters stormed the
beach. Even prior announcement unless done extremely well,
may have been greeted with skepticism.
Another highly visible crosstraining evolution was
parachute operations. Both the 22d and 24th MAU conducted
parachute jumps using the Beirut golf course as a drop zone.
In Benis Frank's book, several parachutists high above the
city of Beirut are seen in a photograph.79 Parachute
operations are a means to project power and in no way can be
construed as defensive. Additionally they were highly
visible operations and not something that happened everyday
in Lebanon. While the USMNF could not have know for sure
how the local militias perceived these operations, clearly,
not much thought was put into whether this would create the
Whether the Italian contingent's decline to participate
in these operations was intentional or coincidental is also
uncertain. However, whenever senior Marines spoke of the
Italian peacekeeping force, they had nothing but praise for
the contingent because of its professionalism and ability to
carry out one of the hardest missions in the center of the
Palestinian refugee camps.80 Additionally, the Italians
kept the same Commanding General, Brigadier General Angioni,
and his staff in Lebanon for the entire length of MNF II.81
Interestingly, the Italians did not suffer the same type of
terrorist attack experienced by the USMNF and the French.82
With this information, the Italian Commanding General's
decision appears to be more deliberate than mere
The last example of lack of preparation for
peacekeeping involves cultural aspects. Leaders had a big
concern that Marines would naturally align with the
Christian population in Lebanon. Lieutenant Colonel
Anderson was concerned his Marines would find it easy to
align with the Christians because:
Christians speak the same language and wear western
clothes. Moslems dress different[ly] and speak a
different language. It is much more difficult to feel
comfortable with them.83
Although leaders were aware of culture, they had a hard time
operating in a cultural environment they did not fully
understand and that was predisposed to hostility toward
U. S. forces.
In his thesis, Lieutenant Colonel Matthews relates
several stories in which Marines were unconsciously
maneuvered into situations that made them look as if they
were aligning with the Christian population. While the
Marines felt they were being honored at gala events and
extravagant banquets, they often ended up on the pages of
local magazines eating dinner with quite possibly the "same
forces responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacre just
ninety days earlier."84 When Marines realized their errors,
they quickly stopped, but the damage had been done. First
impressions are lasting impressions.
Another example of cultural insensitivity is similar to
the French flag incident in the Beirut port area before the
evacuation of the PLO. A story in a June 1983 edition of
the Root Scoop praised Lance Corporal Benson D. Stalvey of
BLT 1/8 for motivating his fellow Marines every day when he
played "colors" on the bugle.85 While this is not a major
incident, it seems to be in quite a contrast to Colonel
Mead's earlier lesson to his MAU on the use of symbolic
gestures to show support for Lebanon. If colors had been
raised without a bugle, they might have gone unnoticed.
With the addition of the bugle and the short distance to
Muslim villages from Marine lines, the color raising
ceremony was quite visible. Although this story was on the
front page of the MAU's own weekly newspaper, it did not
seem to strike any of the 24th MAU leaders as improper.
Finally, the words and actions of individual Marines
show a clear shift in attitudes towards peacekeeping.
Michael Petit was a Marine corporal assigned to the 24th MAU
Operations Section when the BLT headquarters building was
destroyed. In his book, Peacekeepers at War, he shows
strong contempt for an officer who tried to explain the
"presence mission" to members of the press.86 While Petit
was only one Marine, consider that he worked in the MAU
headquarters as a clerk. He worked daily filing messages
from higher headquarters (which he must have read because he
includes excerpts from these messages in his book) and was
privy to conversations between the operations officer,
various staff officers, and even Colonel Geraghty himself.
If any enlisted Marine should have understood the situation
and purpose for being in Lebanon, that Marine should have
been Corporal Petit. His contempt and anger show a lack of
understanding of the peacekeeping mission. If he did not
understand the purpose and political aspects of the 24th
MAU's mission, consider the understanding of the individual
rifleman at a remote checkpoint several miles away from the
Other examples show Marines were proud they were
allowed to use force very effectively; however, few examples
show they related the use of force to failure of their
mission. Benis Frank's book shows a series of photographs
of a hardbacked tent that was used as a soda mess in Alpha
Company, BLT 1/8's position. A sign outside the tent
changed over time from the "Can't Shoot Back...," to the
"Can Shoot Back...," and finally to the "Did Shoot Back
Saloon."87 In a letter written to his sister just before
his death, Staff Sergeant Ortega wrote this:
When the bombs hit, all you could see was Lebanese
people flying and dying. We had a couple of Marines
hurt, but nothing serious. The best part is we got to
fire back for the first time.88
Other statements made by Marines show a similar
attitude. U. S. News and World Report quoted a Charlie
Company, BLT 1/8 Marine as saying, "The other night our unit
fired with everything we have, even a tank. Yet some
politicians back home claim we're not in combat. That's
bull!"89 The article goes on to say Marines were cheering
for the U. S. Navy ships firing in support until they
learned they were being fired in support of the LAF in Suq
el Gharb.90 In their frustration with being shot at,
Marines seem to have forgotten their peacekeeping mission.
In his book Beirut Outakes, Larry Pintak, a television
journalist, comments on the differences in response when
talking to the press depending on whether a Marine was an
officer or enlisted. When the journalist asked Corporal
John Ruffner if he was certain the Muslim gunmen were
shooting at him, he responded without hesitation,
"Certainly, certainly were, sir. I was looking right down
the barrel of their guns. It felt good to finally start
hitting back."91 When the journalist posed the same
question to Corporal Ruffner's Company Commander, Captain
Roy, the answer was much different. Captain Roy answered,
"There were so many rounds that came in, some of which
landed on us, some of which landed across the airstrip. I
don't know if we were the target. I don't know if they were
meant for us."92 Pitkin goes on to say Captain Roy's
company had suffered several casualties by this time. Given
his position as commander, the significance of those
casualties was probably much more closely felt. Despite
this, his response supported the mission and guidance much
better than the Marine who was probably less affected by the
deaths of those Marines.
More likely, as an officer, Captain Roy had a better
understanding of the political connotations of his
statements, and therefore, was more restrained. However, in
decentralized peacekeeping operations, noncommissioned
officers must understand their mission just as well as their
officers. Enlisted Marines led patrols, stood outposts, and
trained their subordinates. All of these statements show
the average Marine may not have understood the tools of
peacekeeping and the political aspects of his mission, but,
in at least this one case, his officer did.
The reason for this is not that the Marines were poorly
trained. They had outstanding skills. Junior Marines were
leading patrols in built up terrain with live rounds and in
a foreign country. To the contrary, the Marines were very
well trained for conventional combat operations. However,
as shown earlier, they had very little peacekeeping
training. Even the word "training" may be the wrong word
because the Marines were trained very well to recite their
ROE, mission, and even some facts about the local culture
and political situation. What they lacked was education.
In a book review for the Marine Corps Gazette, Lieutenant
General Bernard E. Trainor expresses this same idea with the
Unschooled in the complexities of Levantine politics
and culture, the United States, and Marines on the
ground, mistook Lebanese praise for their tough stand
against early Israeli provocations around Beirut
airport as an endorsement of the "presence" mission.93
The Marines knew they needed to remain neutral and use
minimum force but they were not educated well enough to know
they were violating these principles.
The undesired effect of insufficient training and
education for peacekeeping operations is a recurring theme
throughout MNF II. When faced with relatively clear
problems, such as keeping the IDF out of certain areas,
Marines knew what to do. However, when involved with more
¨complex problems, such as how to handle the IDF after it had
already fired into a Muslim town, the USMNF was bewildered.
When the IDF withdrew, the 24th MAU lacked the prudence to
change its own mission when it was apparent its higher
headquarters would not. The 24th MAU continued to follow.
its original task instead of adapting to a changing
situation that made its original task irrelevant.
While the USMNF thought it was doing a good job, in
reality, it was unwittingly violating all the rules of
peacekeeping. The USMNF forfeited its impartial status by
interacting exclusively with the LAF. The MAUs trained,
patrolled, and manned checkpoints with the LAF even though
common knowledge was that the LAF used "strong-armed"
tactics against the Muslim villages surrounding the airport.
While numerous signs that the USMNF was targeted because of
its association with the LAF existed, this lesson was not
fully learned until after the BLT headquarters bombing.
Even if the USMNF had not aligned with the LAF, its
cultural insensitivity slowly eroded its impartial status.
Conversely, intimate knowledge of American and U. S.
military culture allowed the IDF, LAF, and Muslim factions
to exploit the USMNF. Operating under restrictions imposed
by the ROE, the USMNF's response to hostilities was easy to
determine and predictable.
The USMNF tried in vain to bolster its impartial status
by setting up civic action programs designed to show
goodwill toward the local Muslim population. While a noble
effort, these programs, lacking command emphasis and
professional expertise, were not tied into other aspects of
the USMNF's operations. The media, a tool the USMNF thought
it was using to its advantage, became the tool of extremist
factions that wanted to send a message to the U. S.
government and American people.
Faced with increasing violence, individual Marines
changed their attitudes from impartial observers to hostile
participants who were glad to finally shoot back. Their
response to increased hostility was to use the tools of
conventional combat instead of "negotiation, mediation,
quiet diplomacy and reasoning, tact and the patience of a
These adverse factors could have been avoided or their
effect at least lessened through proper training and
education before commitment of the USMNF. Since they were
not, these factors interacted creating a dynamic situation
in which the Marines were targeted and eventually failed to
accomplish their mission.
1 Mead 1st article, 39.
2 Frank, 36.
3 Frank, 158.
4 Frank, 149. In this Appendix, the type artillery is
listed as 155mm, however, conversations with BLT 3/8's
Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew, USMC (ret), confirmed
the artillery was 105mm.
5 Frank, 32.
6 Barnetson, 14.
7 HMM 261 letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps (code
HD), 5750, subject: "Command Chronology for the period 1
January 1984 to 30 June 1984," 5 July 1984, 3. Here after
referred to as HMM 261 Command Chronology.
8 Frank, 36-37.
9 3d Battalion, 8th Marines letter to Commandant of the
Marine Corps (code HDS-4), 3/CMA/jqs, 5750, subject:
"Command Chronology for the Period 1 January 1982 to 30 June
1982." 21 July 1982.
10 Frank, 36-37.
11 Major Christopher M. Arey, USMC. 5-3 BLT 3/8, 22 MAU,
interview by Benis M. Frank, 17 March 1983, 4.
12 Arey, 4.
13 Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Anderson, USMC.
Commanding Officer BLT 2/6, 22d MAU at MAU Headquarters
Beirut, Lebanon, interview by Benis M. Frank, 25 May 1983,
14 Anderson, 16.
15 Anderson, 16.
16 1st Battalion, 8th Marines letter to Commandant of the
Marine Corps (code HDS-4), 3/HLG/RCB, 5750, subject:
"Command Chronology for the period 1 July 1982 - 31 December
1982." 4 January 1983. And 1st Battalion, 8th Marines
letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps (code HDS-4),
3/HLG/bah, 5750, subject: "Command Chronology for the
period 1 Jan 1983 - 30 June 1983." 1 July 1983. Here after
referred to as 1/8 Command Chronology I and/or II.
17 1/8 Command Chronology II, enclosure(1), 2-1.
18 1/8 Command Chronology II, enclosure(1), 3-1.
19 Frank, 70.
20 Frank, 70.
21 Major Jack L. Farmer, USMC. 5-3 32d MAU at Washington
Navy Yard, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20 December 1983, 9.
Here after referred to as Farmer II.
22 2/8 postdeployment report, Tab B, 54.
23 Farmer II, 31.
24 Matthews, 92-93. As a result of alleged uncertainty on
the part of the IDF, the USMNF was required to mark their
lines with white 50 gallon barrels with "USMC" stenciled on
them in red.
25 Farmer II, 4. And 2/8 postdeploy report, Tab B, 54.
Some sources argue the IDF did not need the Sidon Road.
However, diplomatic agreements allowed Isreal to use the
Sidon Road to resupply its northern forces. If the USMNF
line extended beyond the Sidon Road, it would appear the
Marines were protecting the IDF.
26 Farmer II, 4.
27 3/8 post deploy report 1-6..
28 Matthews, 142.
29 Matthews, 142.
30 Matthews, 143.
31 Mead 1st article, 40.
32 Mead 1st article, 40.
33 Frank, 40.
34 Tempone and Charles T. Botkin interview with Benis
Frank, on 15 March 1983, 16 as quoted by Frank, 40-41.
35 Mead 1st article, 40.
36 According to Lieutenant Colonel Matthews, the 24th MU
conducted a helicopterborne retrograde rehearsal in Saros
Bay, Turkey when it learned of its peacekeeping mission.
Colonel Stokes determined a withdrawal under pressure
without artillery or tanks was too risky. This information
was obtained in a conversation with Lieutenant Colonel
Matthews, USMC (ret.) on 6 April 1994 at the USMC Command
and General Staff College.
37 Frank 154-16p. This table was compiled from data in
Appendix B. Note the XO of Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU
changed on 18 July 1983.
38 Geraghty I, 3.
39 Frank, 154-158.
40 Moskos, 60.
41 Matthews, 139.
42 Matthews, 139.
43 Eric Hammel. The Root, The Marines in Beirut August
1982 - February 1984. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
Publishers, 1985) 55.
44 Tempone and Botkin as quoted by Frank, 43.
45 Anderson, 9-10.
46 Arey, 20.
47 Frank, 38.
48 Commanding Officer 22d MAU letter to 22d MAU MSEs,
subject: "Weapons Handling," 24 Mar 1983.
49 Anderson, 20.
5O Matthews, 143.
51 Hammel, 107-110.
52 Frank, 73.
53 Matthews, 140-141.
54 Farmer II, 6.
55 Luigi Caligaris. "Western Peace-keeping in Lebanon:
Lessons of the MNF." Survival 25, no 6, November/December
56 Frank, 44.
57 Frank, 44.
58 Captain Charles B. Johnson, USMC. Commanding Officer L
Co 3/8, 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M.
Frank, 16 March 1983. 10-20. And also Hammel, 60-66.
59 Frank, 149.
60 The reporter's name is unclear from both Captain
Johnson's and Colonel Stokes' interviews. It may have been
Terry Anderson. Both officers resent the reporter because
the he was living with Lima Company to write a story
comparing modern Marines to "Old Corps" Marines. While
Captain Johnson said the article was accurate, it is
debatable what was meant by "taking up firing positions."
Colonel Stokes is more bitter. He states outright the
reporter did not tell thd truth.
61 Johnson, 19-20.
62 Johnson, 18.
63 Keith Elliot Greenberg. "The Essential Art of
Empathy.." Soldiers for Peace, Supplement to MHQ: The
Quarterly Journal of Military History 5, no. 1 (Autumn
64 Matthews, 153.
65 Matthews, 154.
66 Mead 2d article, 70.
67 Frank, 44.
68 Mead 2d article, 72-73.
69 Frank, 78.
70 Mead 2d article, 70.
71 Arey, 21.
72 Frank, 41-42.
73 22d MAU letter to FMF Atlantic, 09502 3/SEA/gah 5750,
subject: "Human Concerns," 7 May 1983.
74 "Playground A Reality For Beirut Children," Root Scoop,
8 July 1983, 1.
75 see 22d Marine Amphibious Unit FRAG ORDER 2-83 dtd
212055B FEB 83.
76 Two Two MAU message to CGFMFLANT DTG 0251705ZFEB83,
subject: "Lebanon Rescue Mission."
77 Frank, 73.
78 Ayers, 15.
79 Frank, 76.
80 Matthews, 242.
81 Matthews, 242.
82 Frank, 149-153.
83 Anderson, 4.
84 Matthews, 180-185.
85 "Charlie Company Bugler Sounds Off," Root Scoop, 24
June 1983, 1.
86 Michael Petit. Peacekeepers At War, A Marine's Account
of the Beirut Catastrophe. (Boston: Faber and Faber, Inc.,
87 Frank, 79.
88 Dale Russakof f. "Disillusionment Marked Marine's Final
Letter," The Washington Post, 30 August 1983, 1.
89 Douglas Watson. "Not a Combat Situation?" U. S. News
and World Report, Oct 3, 1983, 25.
90 Watson, 24.
91 Larry Pitnak. Beirut Outtakes: A TV Correspondent's
Portrait of America's Encounter With Terror. (Lexington,
Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Company, 1988), 131.
92 Pintak, 131.
93 Lieutenant General Bernard E. Trainer, USMC. "A Crisis
Revisited," Marine Corps Gazette, April 1988, 72.
94 These are the tools of peacekeeping as developed in
Chapter Two from Major General Rikhye, et al. peacekeeping
COMPARISONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Chapters Three and Four analyzed MNF I and II
individually, and evaluated the effectiveness of the USMNF
during these operations. Possible conclusions that might
come from comparing the two operations are: (1) the 32d MAU
proved forward-deployed forces can conduct peacekeeping
operations by its success in MNF I, and (2) the USMNF's
failure in MNF II was the result of numerous factors that
would have caused failure for any peacekeeping force. Since
the 32d MAU participated in both MNF I and II, another
conclusion might be that forward-deployed forces were not
effective peacekeepers as proven by failure in MNF II, and
that the success experienced in MNF I was only the result of
a very simple situation unique to that operation.
Although one operation succeeded and the other failed,
there are similarities and differences between the two.
Comparing the characteristics of each operation will provide
insight into the different results. This insight will help
differentiate whether the MAUs were an appropriate type
force that happened to fail, or if the MAUs were an
inappropriate type force that contributed to failure. This
insight will also help determine the feasibility of using
similar type forces in future peacekeeping operations.
Similar But Different
The first major similarity between MNF I and II is the
type unit employed. In both operations the MAU was the
basic unit. One unit, the 32d MAU, participated in both
operations. The MAU's battalion-sized GCE, although
stretched thin, was able to establish positions between
hostile parties and provide a calming influence. During MNF
II, the GCE carried out patrols to: (1) show support for
the GOL, (2) show the flag, and (3) monitor the general
attitude of the local populace. The GCE's organic motor
transport assets provided sufficient tactical mobility to
support patrolling several miles to the northeast into
Christian East Beirut.1 Also, the assault amphibious
vehicles (AAVs) were able to travel well into the mountains
to carry out a rescue mission, and the mobility of the GCE
became even greater when supported by the ACE using troop
The MAU always had sufficient combat power and
equipment because, in addition to its normal assets, the MAU
received any other assets its commander requested. However,
perhaps the MAUs had too much equipment to be effective
peacekeepers. Given the offensive and highly lethal
characteristics of tanks and artillery, the MAU may have
appeared as a combatant instead of a peacekeeping force.
Too much equipment is also not a factor because the MAU
commander always had the option of leaving equipment on ship
as Colonel Mead had decided both times the 32d MAU went
ashore. Therefore, even if the MAUs had too much equipment,
this excess was the result of judgment and not the MAU's
Table of Organization.
The ACE and MSSG allowed the MAUs to be self-
sufficient. The ACE was a valuable asset for sustaining the
force with supplies from outside of Lebanon.2 The MSSG kept
the MAU from depending on the Lebanese government for food,
water, and fuel.3 While fresh vegetables and produce were
available at different times, these were luxuries. Marines
could subsist on prepackaged rations and food prepared on
ATF shipping.4 Independence was essential. As described in
the last chapter, the USMNF was dependent on the LAF for
intelligence. This had an undesirable consequence.
Dependence meant the USMNF got only what the GOL wanted to
give them. As a result, the USMNF was not able to determine
the Muslims perceived it as aligned with the LAF and, by
extension, Christian and Israeli forces. If the USMNF had
also relied on the GOL for food, water, and gas, this would
have been another impediment to distancing itself from the
LAF once the MAUs discovered why they were targeted.
Another attribute of the MAU that made it an especially
desirable peacekeeping force was its relationship to the
Phibron. The mobility of the ATF was a major factor for
using the MAUs in Lebanon. Ambassador Dillion explained
Marines were chosen for the USMNF contingent because:
They looked good. This was a political job and because
of their discipline and esprit de corps, they could
carry it out very well...they were mobile. They can
pack up and leave in 24 hours.5
Ralph A. Hallenbeck, a former Pentagon staff officer
whose day-to-day dealings were with the USMNF, reinforces
the idea that mobility was an important factor. During a
symposium held ten years after the bombing of BLT 1/8's
headquarters, Hallenbeck remarked that the security mission
at the British Embassy and Duraford Building had created
more concern with Pentagon planners than the bombing of the
U. S. Embassy itself because it made the Marines' mission
more permanent. Permanence made them more difficult to
The only deficiency from an organizational perspective
was the MAUs' intelligence sections. The Long Commission
report noted the inadequacy of the MAU's intelligence
capability, but this problem was fixed with Brigadier
General Joy's 22d MAU when the intelligence section was
reinforced.7 Therefore, because the MAUs had sufficient
combat power, were self-sufficient, and had strategic and
tactical mobility, they appear to have been ideally equipped
and organized for peacekeeping operations.
The training of all MAUs for both MNF I and II was
basically the same. The individual Marines and small units
were very well trained for conventional combat. With combat
training comes discipline. In MNF I, discipline proved to
be critical, and Marines carried themselves well in a
chaotic environment. During MNF II, the same type
discipline allowed the Marines to live in field conditions
for extended periods with little adverse effect from
However, the MAUs received very little training on
Lebanese culture, history, background, and the theory of
peacekeeping. While Marines were able to "parrot" back
their ROE and mission, they knew very little on the reasons
why force was restricted or the political aspects of their
mission. When faced with unfamiliar situations, Marines
became frustrated and responded with greater violence. They
tried to solve problems with the tools that they were most
familiar instead of with the unfamiliar tools of
peacekeeping. Lack of specialized training affected the
decisionmaking abilities of key leaders and the attitudes of
Lack of confidence in the Marines' peacekeeping skills
led to restraints being placed on the USMNF that prohibited
direct communication with the hostile parties during both
MNF I and II. This prohibition lead to potentially volatile
situations between the USMNF and the IDF, and to
communications through mistaken perceptions with the Muslim
factions. Additionally, it took decisionmaking
responsibility away from the individual on the scene and
forced a rigid and predictable response based on highly
publicized ROE. This precarious situation for the USMNF
provided keen public interest that was heightened by an
aggressive international media.
Even though these conditions existed during both MNF I
and II, the differences between the two operations caused
these conditions to have a different effect. The most
obvious difference between the two operations is the length.
MNF I lasted just sixteen days, but MNF II lasted almost
thirteen months before the headquarters bombing incident.
The short length of MNF I compensated for the lack of
peacekeeping training. Key leaders could remain constantly
vigilant and ready to act. The unique aspects of the
evacuation created "adrenaline," that kept individuals alert
at all times. This allowed small-unit leaders to analyze
every situation with great scrutiny and make deliberate
decisions. Even if poor decisions were made, the USMNF
withdrew from Beirut before the consequences of those
mistakes could have an effect. Finally, the 32d MAU reached
the MNF I operational end state and withdrew. The 32d MAU
was the only unit involved. Therefore, it did not
experience continuity problems between successive units as
was the case in MNF II.
The length of MNF II was long enough so that mistakes
made early in this operation could result in consequences to
the USMNF before mission completion. A lack of cultural
awareness led to the perceived alignment with Christian and
Israeli forces even though Marines were conscious of this
danger and tried to avoid it.
Also, the extended time ashore changed decisionmaking.
The significance of earlier decisions, made only after
rigorous and deliberate forethought, was taken for granted.
While the factors that influenced those decisions changed,
the decisions themselves did not. The longer tour lengths
and limits on mental endurance prohibited decisionmakers
from pouring energy into every new decision. Instead of
using an analytical approach to every decision, leaders had
to use an intuitive approach. Since they lacked the
education and expert background in peacekeeping, they did
not always recognize the significance of their decisions.
The difference between the Lebanese flag raising during MNF
I and the Marine bugle player during MNF II shows this
contrast. During MNF I we see a very deliberate effort to
use symbolism to achieve a favorable image, but in MNF II we
see a failure even to recognize how symbolism might
adversely affect the mission. Numerous other intuitive
decisions were made concerning LAF training, type of forces
ashore, and multinational crosstraining. As shown in
Chapter Four, when subjected to analysis, these decisions
had greater significance than realized at the time the
decisions were made.
The complexity of the situation also distinguishes MNF
II from MNF I. In comparison, MNF I had fairly "clear
lines." It was characterized by East Beirut versus West
Beirut, IDF versus PLO, Italians along the Damascus Highway,
French along the Green Line, and the USMNF along the port
perimeter. The "clear lines" were literal as well as
figurative. The relative clarity of the situation
compensated for the lack of peacekeeping training.
MNF II started with clear lines when the situation
called for separating the IDF from the Muslims. The lines
became "blurred" as the IDF first tried to draw the USMNF
closer through aggressive action and then followed with
proposals to formalize coordination between the forces.
The situation became even more confusing after the IDF
withdrew altogether and the USMNF was faced with factional
fighting. Only after the headquarters bombing did the
Marines realize why they were targeted. In an interview
immediately after leaving Beirut, Major Converse, the 24th
MAU Operations Officer explained he did not feel the Marines
were being directly targeted "but the joint [sic] LAF/USMC
checkpoints were being attacked."8 He went on to say he
felt the attacks were a message the USMNF was getting too
close to the LAF.
The 22d MAU, which relieved Colonel Geraghty's MAU, had
a good understanding of the new lines. Not only had the
mission changed to "defend their positions," but the leaders
knew the LAF had something to do with the fire directed at
the USMNF. When explaining how firefights with various
militias started, Major Steve Anderson, BLT 2/8's Operations
Officer explained, "A lot of times I felt the LAF initiated
it. A lot of times I thought they abutted up next to us
just to draw us into it because of our preponderance of fire
Finally, the affect the media had on the two operations
was clearly different. During MNF I and early months of M&F
II, the media had a positive affect by forcing the IDF to
use restraint. Although not realized at the time, all MAUs
could have used the media to communicate its intentions to
the local factions. The media could have favorably
influenced local opinion while the Muslim factions were
still neutral to the USMNF. Even though the MAU had a
relatively large Public Affairs detachment, no evidence
shows that this detachment worked with the local media to
enhance local perceptions of the USMNF.10 Although the
media had generated considerable support for the USMNF, the
highly visible Marines became a lucrative terrorist target
because of the same media attention. Interestingly, while
the USMNF was making headlines in Beirut, the MFO operations
in the Sinai were successfully underway and continue to be
successful today. Not surprising, news of the MFO is
infrequent and normally only found in professional journals.
MNF I was so different from MNF II that conclusions
from one operation must be qualified with the distinct
characteristics of that operation. Because MNF I was
successful, an appropriate conclusion is MAUs can be used in
peacekeeping operations but only under specific conditions.
By extension to their modern equivalents, forward-deployed
and rapid-deployment combat forces can also be used in
peacekeeping operations under the same special conditions.
These type forces have the equipment, personnel, and
discipline required for peacekeeping. If the mission is
carefully defined, operations are carefully specified, and
the situation is fairly constant, these forces will probably
However, peacekeeping forces do not normally operate
under these conditions. Peacekeeping operations are
decentralized, conducted in a continually changing
environment, and require a long-term commitment. Under
these conditions, forward-deployed forces lack the
specialized training and education required to conduct
typical peacekeeping operations.
Combat forces, which are not trained in peacekeeping
theory and tactics, are restricted to operate in a
predictable set-piece pattern as directed by their higher
headquarters. This pattern creates a vulnerability in the
peacekeeping force that is easily exploited by parties
hostile to the force. Additionally, in unfamiliar stressful
situations, these forces tend to respond as they would in
conventional combat, and not the way they should respond in
peacekeeping. Excessive force makes peacekeepers a party to
the conflict instead of a neutral third party.
Since forward-deployed and rapid-reaction forces are
frequently used to respond in crises, they may find
themselves engaged in peacekeeping operations. Although
these forces have the personnel, equipment, discipline, and
mobility to be used initially, their use must not become
permanent. If these type forces are employed initially in
peacekeeping, they need to be replaced by specially trained
peacekeeping forces before the mission or environment
If committed, the staffs of untrained peacekeeping
forces should be augmented with staff officers who are
experts in peacekeeping to assist in decisionmaking. This
augmentation should stay when the unit is relieved and
become the continuity between initially deployed and
While forward-deployed and rapid-deployment combat
forces can be used, their extended use in peacekeeping
operations appears to be an inefficient use of combat power.
Contingency forces possess more combat power than required
for true peacekeeping.11 The employment of these forces
prevents their employment in other contingencies.
Finally, even if untrained peacekeeping forces are
committed only for a short time, the huge benefit to
non-state actors by humiliating an elite force in front of
an aggressive international media, puts the force at high
risk. Decisionmakers committing forces must recognize and
be willing to accept this risk.
1 Arey, 10. Major Arey explained how two guided missile
carriers were used on the patrols because they had radios
mounted. The patrols also used two GRC-160s, jeeps with VHF
radios, which allowed interpatrol communications. The
patrols communicated with the BLT and MAU using HF radio.
2 Amos, 5. Lieutenant Colonel Amos described how CH-53E
helicopters loaded ships in Larnaca and then of fload the
same ships in Lebanon. In HMM 261's Command Chronology for
1 January to 30 June 1984, Lieutenant Colonel Amos stated
the squadron transported 29,913 passengers and 4,354,890
pounds of cargo while in Beirut.
3 Frank, 81. The original decision to establish the bulk
fuel system ashore was because of the "liberty runs." When
the USS Iwo Jima left station for a liberty run, the MAU had
to establish a source ashore to refuel helicopters. Later,
the 24th MAU devised a scheme to get the bulk fuel system
ashore without having the ships get closer by floating fuel
bladders ashore on causeway sections.
4 Headquarters FMF Atlantic memorandum for Admiral Long.
3:MCH:all, subject: "Information Concerning Support for MAU
Operations in Beirut." 22 Nov 83, Encl (3), 1. This
enclosure summarizes how each MAU fed Marines ashore. Until
22d MAU's arrival on 16 February 1983, there was not a field
mess ashore. Before establishing the mess ashore, Marines
ate hot meals delivered from the ships for breakfast and
dinner. After 23 Ocotober 1983, Marines ate package rations
except for one company , which ate experimental tray pack
meals for breakfast and dinner.
5 Philip Taubman and Joel Brinkely, "The Marine Tragedy,"
The New York Times, 11 December 1983, 50, quoted in Major
Phillip L. Brinkley, USA. Tactical Requirements for
Peacekeeping Operations, Thesis. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas:
U. S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies, December
6 Colonel Ralph A. Hallenbeck USA (ret) as quoted by
Matthews, 152. Colonel Hallenbeck is the author of Military
Force as an Instrument of U. S. Foreign Policy:
Intervention in Lebanon, August 1982-February 1984. New
York: Praeger, 1991.
7 Joy, 81 and 24.
8 Converse, 5.
9 Major Steve Anderson, USMC. Operations Officer, BLT
2/8, 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview with Benis Frank,
21 May 1984, 8.
10 Headquarters FMF Atlantic memorandum for Admiral Long,
1. PAO det was 2 officers and 6 enlisted. Lieutenant
Colonel Blankenship mentioned in his interview the Navy send
in a 12 man PAO det lead by a Navy Captain before MNF I.
This team briefed Marines on each ship. See Blankenship,
41. Brigadier General Joy also mentions PAO in his
interview. Colonel Ed MacDonald, USA, and three other
officers were sent in from EUCOM. Larry Pintak describes
Colonel MacDonald as a "salty army colonel." According to
Pintak, he was unpopular with journalists because he was
"vague and closed-lipped," which was in "sharp contrast to
the openness of the Marine spokesmen." 231.
11 True peacekeeping as refered to in Chapter Two, no
force used except in self-defense. FM 100-23 definition of
peacekeeping is "military or paramilitary operations that
are undertaken with the consent of all major belligerents;
designed to monitor and facilitate implementation of an
existing truce and support diplomatic efforts to reach
long-term political settlement." The modern definition is
very similar to the model defined in Chapter Two and used
throughout this study for analysis. The USMNF was assigned
a peacekeeping mission but in terms of modern definitions,
they carried out actions associated with
"peace-enforcement." See Field Manual (FM) 100-23. Peace
Operations. Washington, DC: Department of the Army.
December 1994, 111-112.
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Washington, DC: History and Museums Division,
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1987.
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Battalion Landing Team 3/8 Letter to Commanding Officer,
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"Command Chronology for the period 1 July 1982 to 31
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22d Marine Amphibious Unit FRAG ORDER 2-83 dtd 212055B FEB
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13 January 1983.
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Benis M. Frank, 26 May 1983.
_____.S-3 32d MAU at Washington Navy Yard, interview by
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_____, on USS Iwo Jima, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20
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Frank, 15 March 1983.
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