BEIRUT, LEBANON: 24TH MAU, MAY-DEC 1983
Subject Area - History
Author: MAJOR PETER J. FERRARO
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. HISTORICAL and POLITICAL OVERVIEW
A. The People and Religion pp. 1-3
B. Geography and Climate p. 4
C. Transportation p. 4
D. Government and Politics pp. 4-5
II. 24TH MAU DEPLOYMENT and EMPLOYMENT
A. General Situation pp. 6-8
B. Military Presence in Lebanon (1983) pp. 8-11
C. Deployment pp. 11-12
D. Chain of Command pp. 13-15
III. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT pp. 16-17
IV. LESSONS LEARNED pp. 17-19
V. CONCLUSION pp. 19-20
APPENDIX I (pp. 1-5) Mission/ROE
APPENDIX II Weinberger/Powell Doctrine
OCTOBER 23, 1983:
"The bombing is etched as indelibly in my mind as is the day John F. Kennedy was murdered."
Eric Hammel, Historian and Author.
My Military Issues paper is about the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) in Beirut, Lebanon with particular emphasis upon the August-October 1983 period. However, I will touch on former and later periods encompassing August 1982 to February 1984.
My intent is to discuss/focus on the facts of the mission in order to understand the dilemma facing the 24th MAU during their deployment. Additionally, the lessons learned from this ill-fated mission was the foundation for present day Rules of Engagement (ROE), Force Protection and the conduct of US Forces participating in what we now call Operations Other Than War (OOTW), e.g. Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, Peace-Enforcement, Disaster and Humanitarian relief and domestic support operations.
This is not a paper about Lebanon's problems with its Syrian and Israeli neighbors. However, I will begin with a brief historical and political overview. The political and cultural problems involved in the Lebanese conflict were, and still are, extremely complex, difficult, and confusing. I strongly feel that it is impossible to fully understand the dynamics behind the problems in Lebanon without exploring her past. The appreciation of Lebanon's past is essential in recognizing the numerous challenges faced by the 24th MAU.
I. HISTORICAL and POLITICAL OVERVIEW:
A. The People and Religion:
The population of Lebanon is approximately 3 million based on a 1981 estimate. The major
populated areas are Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli, Tyre and Zahle. The population forms a mosaic of
religious communities comprised of Christians, Druze and Muslims. Many Christian sects are
represented in Lebanon including Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and
Protestant. The Maronites are by far the largest of the Christian groups and the largest single
religious group, Christian or Muslim. Maronite Christians through various political parties and
groups have traditionally wielded the most political power. (1)
The other half of the population is comprised of Lebanese Muslims. The Muslims are nearly equally divided between the two branches of Islamic faith, with the Sunni Muslims holding a slight advantage over the Shia Muslim group. Muslims trace their faith to the teachings of the 7th century prophet Mohammed and his followers. The word Islam, in Arabic, means submission to the will of God. Muslims believe that the Jews and Christians have strayed from the true teachings of their prophets. Muslims accept all the Old Testament prophets and Jesus, but regard Mohammed as the greatest prophet. They deny, however, that Mohammed or any of the other prophets had any divine qualities. God in his oneness, they hold, cannot appear
simultaneously in several forms. Islam has a total outlook which claims authority over the
believers' political, social and economic behavior. Traditionalists believe there can be no separation of church and state. A Muslim should believe in the oneness of God and the prophethood of Mohammed. He should pray in a prescribed manner five times daily, facing Mecca, the Prophet's birthplace and if possible make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his lifetime. (2)
The split between the two branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia, first appeared after the death of Mohammed in A.D. 632. It developed out of the controversy as to whether Ali or someone else should succeed Mohammed. Sunni Muslims are mainly clustered in coastal cities, especially Beirut and Tripoli. Sunnites are in all professions and trades; many are wealthy village farmers. (3)
Shia Muslims have traditionally played a subordinate role in the political life of Lebanon.
Most are low-income farmers and unskilled laborers. (4) Adherents to the Druze religion constitute another significant minority. The Druze religion is, in part, a historical derivative of Shia Muslim. However, Druzes do not regard themselves, or are they regarded by others as Muslims. The Druzes believe in the divine character of the prophets and Imans and that God became incarnate in man in a series of ten successive divine manifestations. (5)
The Druze religion is a tightly organized and independent community. It is estimated they make up six percent of the population. (6) There were also a significant number of Palestinian refugees in various groups and camps throughout Lebanon. Approximately 300,000 were in Lebanon in 1983. Palestinian presence increased after the Arab-Israeli wars and the expulsion of Palestinian commandos from Jordan in 1971. The majority of Palestinians (approximately 90%) are Muslims. (7) Arabic is the official language with Armenian, English and French spoken as well. (8)
The individual's position in society, his chances of success in life, his expectations of educational advancement and the attainment of wealth are largely determined by the family into which he or she was born. As in other Arab countries, the family is the most important social grouping. The Lebanese family, whether Christian, Druze or Muslim is based on patrilineal descent. Families cooperate in forming businesses, in restraining other members when social discipline is necessary, and in helping needy members. (9)
B. Geography and Climate:
Lebanon is a small mountainous country situated on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is about the size of Connecticut. It is bounded on the north and east by Syria and on the south by Israel. Its principal geographical regions are a narrow coastal plain behind which are the high Lebanese Mountains, the fertile Bekaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanese Mountains extending to the Syrian border. (10)
East of the Lebanese Mountains is a narrow central valley or plateau known as the Bekaa Valley. It is about 75 miles long and varies from five to eight miles in width. This valley is a major military avenue of approach leading to Damascus, Syria.
There are over 4,000 miles of road in Lebanon, of which about 3,000 are paved. Even the remotest village can be reached by automobile on adequate, but narrow roads. There are two international highways: one leads eastward from Beirut across the mountains and the Bekaa Valley to Damascus; the other, southward from the Syrian border through Tripoli and Beirut to the frontier with Israel. There have been railroads in Lebanon since 1986, when a narrow-gauge line was built, connecting Beirut to Damascus. There are standard gauge lines which connect some smaller cities together. There are 3 main ports in Lebanon of which Beirut is the largest. Airports are located at Beirut (Khalde), Riyaq and at Kleiat in the northwestern corner of the country. The airport at Riyaq is small and was used primarily by the Lebanese Air Force. (11)
D. Government and Politics:
Lebanon is a parliamentary republic based on the constitution of 1926, its amendments and the National Covenant of 1943. The covenant provides that public offices shall be distributed among the recognized religious groups. The three top positions in the governmental system are distributed as follows:
-The president is to be a Maronite Christian.
-The prime minister, a Sunni Muslim.
-The president of the Chamber of Deputies, a Shia Muslim.
The president has the strongest most influential position. This system distribution of top
governmental positions was based on numerical strength in the different religious communities. The last census, taken in 1932 showed a slight Christian majority and therefore the Christians secured the position of president. Since that time however, with a growing Muslim birthrate and introduction of Palestinian refugees, the majority shifted to the Muslim population. (12)
Lebanon is administratively divided into five provinces; Beirut, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Mount Lebanon and Bekaa. Each province is headed by a governor appointed by the president. Lebanon's judicial system is based on that of France. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels: Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, and the Court of Cassation. There is also a system of confessional courts of the religious communities which have jurisdiction on personal status matters in their own areas. (13)
Politically, Lebanon contains branches of almost all other political parties of the Arab world as well as its own. These parties cover the entire political spectrum from far right to far left. The Arab, Christians and Muslims generally look to particular political parties and leaders depending on the sect to which they belong. Lebanese political parties differ from the huge umbrella organizations found in the U.S. in that they are generally vehicles for powerful leaders whose followers are often of the same religious sect. The rivalries for position and power among various factions produces a complex political system difficult for Westerners to understand. Surprisingly, this system has worked to produce a viable democracy. However, events in the late 70's and early 80's have upset the delicate Muslim-Christian balance and resulted in a tendency for Christians and Muslims to group themselves for safety into distinct zones. At the same time all factions have called for a reform of the political system. The Reagan Administration felt that reformation will most likely not take place until foreign troops withdraw and internal turmoil rests. (14)
II. 24TH MAU DEPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYMENT:
A. General Situation:
HISTORY: Beginning from Lebanon's independence in 1943, and the withdrawal of French
troops in 1946, Lebanon's independence can be defined largely in terms of its presidents, each of
whom has shaped Lebanon by his personal brand of politics: Shaikh Bishara el-Khoury (1943-52),Camille Chamoun (1952-58), Fuad Chebab (1958-64), Charles Helou (1964-70), Suleiman Franjiyah (1970-76), Elias Sarkis (1976-82), Bashir Gemayel (23 Aug-14 Sep 1982), and Amin Gemayel (21 Sep 1982-end of US participation in Multi-National Peacekeeping Force). (15)
Full scale civil war broke out in 1975 during President Franjiyah's term. For many years prior to 1975, Muslim and Christian differences grew more intense. Difficulties centered around the large number of Palestinian refugees and the presence of Palestinian commandos operating out of Lebanon. The Muslims were also dissatisfied with what they considered an unfair distribution of political power in favor of the Christian Lebanese.
In October 1976, during the first year of President Sarkis term, Arab summits set forth a plan to end the war. The resulting Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), composed largely of Syrian troops, moved in at the invitation of the Lebanese government to separate the combatants. Most fighting ended soon thereafter but under-lying problems still remained. (16)
In mid-1978 and April 1981 clashes between the Christian Lebanese militias and the ADF
erupted. Christian militias, Muslim militias, Palestinian commandos and the ADF controlled
various areas throughout the country. The Lebanese Government made several attempts to restore the authority of the central government to all parts of the country with little success. The 1975-76 civil war severely impaired the Lebanese Armed Forces' (LAF) ability to intervene and restore order. Many officers and enlisted men left the LAF to join various Christian and Muslim militias taking their weapons with them. (17)
During 1981, Israel shot down two Syrian helicopters in Lebanon and Syria deployed SAM batteries in the Bekaa Valley. There were also outbreaks of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. On 6 June, 1982, Israel mounted a major offensive from Southern Lebanon into Beirut and
the Bekaa Valley. This led to the evacuation of Palestinian commandos from Beirut. The US
Marines assisted in the evacuation (BLT 2/8) as part of the Multinational Force (MNF). Following the withdrawal of the MNF in September 1982, two events occurred which led to their return. The first event was the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel on 14 September by persons alleged to have ties with Iran. The second event was the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps on 16 September 1982. The Israelis conducted an investigation which led to the dismissal of the Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. (18)
When the 24th MAU deployed to Beirut negotiations between the US, Israel, and Lebanon were in a stalemate. Note that Syria, a major occupying power/force in Lebanon was excluded from the negotiations. Lebanon's government was asking for complete foreign troop withdrawal from the country. The Israelis refused to pull-out until they were satisfied that their northern border with Lebanon was secure from guerrilla attack and that the Syrians and PLO guerrillas leave the country. US envoy, Philip C. Habib was the chief negotiator for the US with the Lebanese and Israelis.
B. Military Presence in Lebanon (1983):
There were numerous armed groups and or militias operating in various sectors throughout Lebanon. In addition to these Lebanese factions, the foreign forces of Israel, Syria, the PLO, UN Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the MNF also occupied certain areas.
Starting in the north, centered around Tripoli, is the Zgharta Front. The Zgharta Front was led by former Maronite president Sulliman Franjiyah. It was a leftist Lebanese Christian militia which numbers approximately 1500. It broke ties with the Christian Phalange because of differences in ideology and familial disputes. (19)
The Christian Phalange, centered in East Beirut and north, is a rightist Maronite militia/political party. It is also known by the name Kataeb. It was founded in 1936 and is led by Pierre Gemayel. Pierre Gemayel is the father of the assassinated president Bashir Gemayel and the 1983 president Amin Gemayel. The Phalange participated in heavy fighting against leftist factions during the 1975-76 civil war. Their strength was estimated at about 10,000. (20)
Syrian forces entered Lebanon in response to a Lebanese government request during the civil war. The Syrian Army as the largest contributor to the Arab Deterrent Force occupies positions in eastern and northern Lebanon today. The Lebanese government did not renew the ADF mandate on 14 July 1982, and asked for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. The Syrian Army is centered in the Bekaa Valley and numbers approximately 35,000. (21)
The Druze, a radical offshoot Islamic sect, was centered around the area known as the Shouf. The Shouf is situated in the central part of Mount Liban and is bounded in the north by the Damascus road, on the east by the river Nahr Barouk and on the south by the river Nahr el Awali. Through the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) headed by Walid Jumblatt, the Druze sided with the Palestinians during the Israeli invasion. The Druze also clashed periodically with their northern neighbors the Phalange. The PSP was founded in 1949 to represent Socialism in Lebanese politics and its strength numbers approximately 1500. (22)
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have been making periodic raids into Lebanon in pursuit of PLO guerrillas for many years. The 6 June 1982 invasion, called Peace for Galilee, has resulted in the occupation of Southern Lebanon by approximately 35,000 Israeli troops. When the 24th MAU arrived in Lebanon in May 1983, battle lines were drawn in the Bekaa Valley between the opposing forces of Israel and Syria. The IDF occupied the Beirut-Damascus highway to the Bekaa Valley and south all the way to Northern Israel. (23)
Major Saad Haddad's Free Lebanon Militia (FLM) was also located in the South. The FLM was a pro-Israeli militia led by renegade Lebanese Major Saad Haddad. This militia was made up of Shia Muslims as well as Christians. FLM strength has been estimated at 1500. Israel wants the FLM to remain in place to guard its northern border and ensure protection against Palestinian guerilla attacks. The Lebanese government never agreed to this proposal. Most of the FLM weapons are of western make, some originated from the former elements of the LAF, but the majority were supplied by the Israelis. These include M50 Sherman Tanks, 155mm Howitzers, M113 APC's, 120mm mortars, as well as various types of infantry and anti-tank weapons. (24)
UNIFIL, United Nations International Forces in Lebanon, also maintained a presence in
southern Lebanon. UNIFIL was made up of various battalions from Ireland, Norway, Fiji, Ghana
and others. The purpose of their introduction into Southern Lebanon was to act as a buffer between PLO guerrillas and the IDF. (25)
The Multinational Force, MNF, was composed of Italians, French, US Marines, and British soldiers. The entire MNF was centered in the Beirut area. Their mission, was to establish an environment which would enable the Lebanese Armed Forces to carry out their responsibilities. Various contingents were attacked periodically throughout the entire deployment. (26)
The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964 and is still today headed by Yasir Arafat. After all PLO activity was eliminated in Jordan in 1971 its headquarters was moved to Lebanon. The PLO is an umbrella organization which encompasses numerous groups or factions. Many of these splinter groups have differing ideologies and have fought with each other as well as with Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Lebanese Forces. The Israeli invasion dealt a severe blow to PLO military operations in Lebanon. PLO activity had been severely limited at the time of the 24th MAU's deployment. Most remaining PLO groups had either been evacuated to other countries or moved to the Bekaa Valley region. (27)
The Lebanese Armed Forces, LAF, was slowly being rebuilt into a viable fighting force. The US began a military assistance program headed by Colonel A.T. Fintel, USA. The goal was to train seven brigades for a total of 30,000 men. The LAF began an intense recruiting drive during the early part of the 24th MAU's deployment. The LAF wanted to secure the Israeli-Lebanon border after completion of the US led military assistance program. (28)
Two other militias warrant mention, AMAL and MURABITOUN. Murabitoun is a leftist
Independent Nasserite Movement which played a major role in civil war clashes of 1975-76.
Murabitoun militia members were usually called AL MURABITOUN or the Vigilants. AMAL
or hope is a Shia Muslim political/military faction whose primary goal was and still is to secure
government assistance for the Shias. Many Shias had been displaced by the fighting between the
PLO guerrillas and Israel in southern Lebanon. The Amal movement was centered in Baalbek, 47 miles Northeast of Beirut. Approximately 900 Iranian revolutionary guards, sent by Ayatollah Kholmeni, were also in the Baalbek area. Both Amal and the Iranians are Shia Muslims. Hussein Musawi, leader of Amal (1983), stated publicly that our brothers from the Revolutionary Guards are here to help us in our social, political and humanitarian work. (29)
Finally, in late spring 1983, an obscure but dangerous terrorist organization emerged in Beirut. It was and still is known as the Islamic Struggle Organization or the Muslim Holy War. This group has claimed responsibility for the 18 April, 1983 car bombing of the US Embassy, and the 23 October, 1983 truck bombing of the US Marine BLT headquarters building (and at the same time the truck bombing of the French MNF headquarters). (30)
The 24th MAU deployed to Beirut, Lebanon in May 1983, made-up of a typical MAGTF. There was nothing to distinguish 1st Battalion, 8th Marines from any other Marine battalions that
were on deployment throughout the world. The normal T/O made up the core of BLT 1/8, how-
ever, some extra strap-hangers such as ITT, intelligence, engineer and medical personnel
augmented the BLT because of the uniqueness of the mission.
Another component of the 24th MAU was Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 162. HMM-162 was made up of 8 CH-46's, 2 AH-IT Cobra's, 2 UH-IN Huey's, and 4 CH-53E's.
The last major component of the 24th MAU was MSSG-24, coming from the 2nd FSSG.
The Commander of the 24th MAU was Colonel Timothy Geraghty. His previous assignment was G-3, Operations Officer, 2nd Marine Division. BLT 1/8 was commanded by LtCol Larry Gerlach. HMM 162 was commanded by LtCol L.R. Medlin, and MSSG-24 was commanded by Major D.C. Redlich. The 24th MAU deployed to Lebanon as part of Amphibious Squadron 8, commanded by Captain (Commodore) M.N. France. The five ships that made up the Amphibious Squadron were the USS IWO JIMA (LPH-2),USS AUSTIN (LPD-4, Phibron flagship), USS PORTLAND (LSD-37), USS HARLON COUNTY (LST-1196), and the USS EL PASO (LKA-117). Depending on what source you read the ships were designated Phibron 8 or MARG 2-83, in any case, they arrivev in Lebanon on 28 May 1983. On that day I was sent ashore with a reinforced platoon to provide external security for the American and British Embassy. The main body of the 24th MAU debarked shipping and moved into positions in and around Beirut International Airport on 29 May 1983. The relief in place of the 22nd MAU was completed without problems. Once in position, the 24th MAU immediately began mobile and foot patrols and took up positions in and around the airport and the American/British embassy. Like the MAU's before it, the 24th MAU set up its headquarters in the airport fire fighter school. The BLT headquarters and attached units established themselves in the four-story building that once had housed the Government of Lebanon's Aviation Administration Bureau. In picking its command post, the BLT sought a site that provided security from heavy hostile artillery, rocket, and sniper fire.
D. Chain of Command:
On September 20, 1982, President Ronald Reagan directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide a contingent from the United States Armed Forces to participate in a multi-national peacekeeping force. In compliance with the President's decision, the JCS directed that the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. European Command, provide a U.S. contingent for the multinational peacekeeping mission. (31)
Before looking at the Chain of Command, I want to point out the mission given to the 24th MAU:
To establish an environment which will permit the Lebanese Armed Forces to carry out their responsibilities in the Beirut area. When directed, USEUCOM (Commander-in-Chief, United States European Command) will introduce US forces as a part of a multinational force presence in the Beirut area to occupy and secure positions along a designated section of the line south of the Beirut International Airport (BIA) to a position in the vicinity of the presidential palace. (32)
In addition to the basic mission, on October 28, 1982, President Reagan signed National
Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 64, which established a U.S. objective the withdrawal
of all foreign forces (Israeli, Syrians, and PLO) from Lebanon not later than the end of calendar year 1982. However, the NSDD also suggested that the multinational force might not be withdrawn until the government of Lebanon could once again "control, administer, and defend its sovereign territory". (33) According to analysis done by Dr. Jack Matthews, "this NSDD increased the scope of the basic mission assigned to the U.S. peacekeepers. (34)
The mission "re-stated" and passed down the chain of command was as follows:
You are part of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force. Your mission is to assist the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces, to stabilize their country and to keep the peace. You are assisted in this mission by British, French and Italian troops. (35)
As you can see, the mission is very vague and broad. Nonetheless, before discussing the chain
of command I felt a good look at the mission will better help to understand just how confusing
and mixed up the situation became for the 24th MAU. The conventional chain of reporting and responsibility on site in Beirut was in fact augmented by additional, overlapping, and sometimes redundant lines stretching back to Stuttgart, West Germany and Washington, D.C., all made possible by the presence of "high-speed" communications equipment which linked the headquarters to various remote sites. An additional factor, which the commanders had to deal with, and one which was to have predictable effects, was the presence of the television media, with TV crews and direct satellite links capable of sending live, instantaneous coverage of events back to the United States and senior military offices as events unfolded. (36)
Dr. Matthews points out:
Television coverage amounted to an unofficial backchannel of communication which circumvented all formal command and control arrangements and, given the highly political nature of the mission, encouraged intervention in the command structure by high placed officials. Because the U.S. military mission to Beirut was unclear, with a humanitarian-that is to say-rather than a strictly military objective, the temptation for top officials to intervene in the mission in an attempt to control the 'image' of the U.S. military presence proved overwhelming. In the absence of a clear military objective, 'public relations', broadly defined emerged as a dominant although shifting purpose. (37)
During the peacekeeping mission to Lebanon, four separate MAU commanders served as the
commander of the Marine force ashore:
Col J.M. Mead, 32 MAU, 16 Aug-10 Sep '82 and 29 Sep-01 Nov '82.
Col T.M. Stokes, 24th MAU, 01 Nov '82-15 Feb '83, and
22nd MAU, 15 Feb-29 May '83.
Col T.J. Geraghty, 24th MAU, 30 May-18 Nov '83.
B Gen J.R. Joy, 22nd MAU, 19 Nov '83-09 April '84.
The Marine commanders above wore "six hats", or had six separate titles:
1-Commander Marine Amphibious Unit
2-Commander Task Force
3-Commander of the Landing Force
4-Commander U.S. Forces Ashore, Lebanon
5-Commander U.S. Multinational Force
6-Commander, Combined Multinational Forces for retrograde operations
During the deployment of the 24th MAU, Col Geraghty felt his immediate "boss" was Commander 6th Fleet, Admiral Martin. Interestingly, Captain France, Commander of Phibron 8, understood the command relationships to be that he was the senior commander under the amphibious task force arrangement. However, Col Geraghty did in fact have a direct line to 6th Fleet, as Commander of the U.S. Multinational Force. Captain France also felt that as commander of the Multinational Force, Col Geraghty was an "equivalent task force commander." As you can see, the chain of command was very confusing and complex, and personality, event, and politically driven. Dr. Matthews devoted lengthy research into the chain of command issue. His analysis gives insight and clarity as to the numerous problems faced by the 24th MAU. The dilemma's presented to the Marines in Beirut continued to escalate.
III. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT:
The Rules of Engagement (ROE) for the 24thMAU Marines were politically driven. The Peacekeeping mission in Beirut was a new beginning for the US Armed Forces. Many senior military and political leaders were well-intended, and very concerned about the image of the Marine Corps and the United States. This concern had a direct impact on the ROE, which in turn had a direct impact on the conduct of the mission. I am absolutely convinced that the militias who were in combat with the Marines knew exactly what the ROE was, and actually used the ROE to their advantage. The following is precisely what the ROE was for my Marines during our deployment to Lebanon (May-Dec '83):
(See Appendix I)
The ROE was never adjusted to accommodate the changing situation, specifically after
the last week of August 1983 (after the Israeli pull-out of Beirut). During this time it was clear that US policy had changed from being neutral to supporting the Christian controlled government. From late August to November, (departure of the 24th MAU), Marines were engaged in nightly combat (not sporadic sniper fire, as so many believe even to this day). An example of how flawed the ROE had become was that for Marines to use indirect fire weapons systems, (artillery and or mortars), as of September '83, all requests for fire had to be approved by the Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. As you can see, by the time the requests were approved approximately 30-45 minutes elapsed, which in many cases the target(s) moved and it was no longer necessary to fire the mission. So immediate requests, which are most critical in combat, were non-existent.
The issue of a different set of ROE for the embassy and the airport was due to the fact that on April 18, 1983 the US Embassy was destroyed by a car bomb. This created the requirement for an external security force at the new "makeshift" US embassy, additionally requiring a higher level of security in order to prevent another terrorist attack.
Due to the "fish-bowl" environment, it was essential that leaders at all levels had to become
proactive in preventing "accidental-discharges". This led to a series of ROE modifications, e.g. no magazines in weapons at certain "low-risk" posts (low-risk was defined as rear area positions).
Ironically, one of the so called "low-risk" posts was in and around the BLT headquarters.
IV. LESSONS LEARNED:
The experience in Lebanon, specifically the 24th MAU, became the genesis of how the US
Armed Forces conducts Peacekeeping or Operations Other Than War. Three important lessons were derived from the Beirut mission. Each one impacting on one of the three levels of war (Strategic, Operational, and Tactical). First, at the strategic level, the mission and consequently the introduction of US forces as a peacekeeping force violated the basic essential
principle of a peacekeeping mission. This principle is that in order for a peacekeeping force to be
effective, all sides involved in the conflict must agree to have a peacekeeping force, and that the
peacekeeping force must remain neutral in action, deed, and intent. Any perception by a faction
that the peacekeeping force is taking sides can result in mission breakdown. In Lebanon, the Multinational peacekeeping force was viewed as taking the side of the Christian controlled government. First, by training the LAF, second by providing the LAF with naval gunfire support from the USS New Jersey and USS Virginia, and finally by attempting to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflict without all parties/factions participating. All of these issues eventually led to the Weinberger Doctrine named after Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. The Weinberger Doctrine basically spelled out the conditions concerning the deployment and use of US forces.
(see Appendix II)
Since Lebanon, the Weinberger doctrine has been used as a guide by the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations for the deployment of US forces. Additionally, at the SecDef/JCS level, mission statements coming from the National Command Authority (NCA) were scrubbed for clarity and feasibility thus resulting in clearly understood missions for US forces.
The second lesson learned is at the operational level of war and concerns the Chain of Command (COC). As described earlier, command relationships and the COC were unquestionably confusing and often misunderstood. The MAU commander wore six-hats, each one consisting of a unique COC along with reporting procedures/information. The command relationships were also confusing. Depending on who you were talking to, each commander and level of command had a different perception of who was answerable/responsible to whom. This "maze" of command directly impacted the Marines engaged in combat. I strongly feel that it was criminal for off-site levels of command (outside the operational realm) to require Marines in contact to clear fire missions with them. Regardless of the political sensitivities, force protection, as we see it today, is absolutely critical to the success of a mission. The problems faced by the 24th MAU led to the formation of Commander in Chief's (CINC), assigned as a warfighting commanders to specific geographical regions throughout the world. Today the most critical issue facing CINC's as it relates to Joint warfighting is command relationships. The COC is the first issue resolved in forming of a Joint Task Force (JTF), and force protection is now treated as one of the essential battlespace functions.
Finally, the third lesson learned is at the tactical level of war. This issue concerns the ROE.
In Lebanon, political and media concerns far outweighed self-defense (force protection) of Marines. The ROE was constantly being modified by off-site senior political and military leaders, thus resulting in confusion which further resulted in an atmosphere of hesitancy by Marines manning posts/positions, especially around the BLT and MAU Headquarters. The single most feared event by senior political/military leaders was an accidental discharge by a Marine. To prevent an incident of this nature from occurring, numerous ROE modifications were implemented. For example, on an almost daily basis, magazines were to be inserted (no round chambered) in the morning and by the evening it would change to rounds inserted in chamber, then by the next morning, the ROE would be modified again to no magazine inserted in the weapon. This kind of "word-change" became routine for the 24th MAU Marines, resulting in a degradation of alertness, and a sense of urgency. Today, standard ROE's are in place to prevent troop confusion, and interference by off-site leaders. Today's standard ROE's are closely reviewed in the force protection slice of the battlespace functions. Standard ROE exists at the CJCS and CINC level and are modified, as required, to fit
In my view, the mission to Lebanon was a failure at every level (Strategic, Operational, and Tactical). Regardless of the outcome, the Marines performed brilliantly given the conditions and restraints imposed on them. Nonetheless, despite the tragic events which unfolded during the 24thMAU deployment, important lessons learned were derived from this mission. Like most Marines, I only wish that we did not have to pay such a high price to learn some "hard" lessons.
It would be criminal of us if we were ever to allow such tragedies to repeat itself again. If the
sacrifice of the Marines in Lebanon saves lives in the future then quite possibly some success did
indeed come out of the mission.
YOU ARE PART OF THE MULTI-NATIONAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE. YOUR MISSION IS TO ASSIST THE GOVERNMENT OF LEBANON AND THE LEBANESE ARMED FORCES, TO STABILIZE THEIR COUNTRY AND TO KEEP THE PEACE. YOU ARE ASSISTED IN THIS MISSION BY BRITISH, FRENCH AND ITALIAN TROOPS.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
(DIRECT FIRE WEAPONS)
1. DIRECT FIE WEAPONS INCLUDE INDIVIDUAL SMALL ARMS, MACHINE GUNS (ALL CALIBERS), LIGHT, MEDIUM AND HEAVY GROUND LAUNCHED ANTI-TANK WEAPONS, AND TANK MAIN GUNS.
2. RIOT CONTROL
a. USE LAF OR POLICE TO CONTROL IF POSSIBLE.
b. RIOT CONTROL FORMATIONS CAN BE USED.
c. SHOW OF FORCE CAN BE USED.
d. WARNING SHOTS -- LAST RESORT
ONLY SEC DEF CAN ARTHORIZE USE OF RIOT CONTROL AGENT
3. ATTEMPTS TO PENETRATE
a. DETER BUT CANNOT DENY.
DENY MEANS STOP WITH ANY AND ALL MEANS AVAILABLE.
DETER MEANS SLOWING OR PREVENTING BY USING
FORMATIONS IN DEPTH
SHOW OF FORCE
b. COMMON SENSE MUT BE USED.
4. HOSTILE ACTS
a. MUST POSE ACTUAL DANGER TO FRIENDLY FORCES.
b. RESPONSE MUST BE CONSISTENT WITH THREAT OF ACT.
MINUMUM FORCE -- DISCONTINUED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE --
C. GENERALLY WILL NOT FIRE UNLESS FIRED UPON.
IMMINENT RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE.
KEYS -- 1. RETURN FIRE ONLY IF IN DANGER.
2. USE SAME KIND AND NUMBER OF WEAPONS IF
3. STOP WHEN INCOMING STOPS.
5. TERRORIST ACTS
a. SAME RULES APPLY.
b. CONSTANT VIGILANCE IS BEST DEFENSE
6. OTHER KEY POINTS
a. REPORT ALL UNUSUAL EVENTS
b. SEEK GUIDANCE FROM BLT IF THERE IS TIME.
c. USE YOUR HEAD -- DON'T BACK YOURSELF OR THE OTHER SIDE INTO A BOX.
d. DON'T MAKE THREATS -- YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO BACK UP
e. REMEMBER THE MISSION -- TO STABILIZE AND HELP KEEP THE PEACE.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
(AIR AND INDIRECT FIRE WEAPONS)
1. INDIRECT FIRE WEAPONS INCLUDE MORTARS (81MMAND 60MM), artillery and naval gunfire ships.
2. AIR INCLUDES ALL FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT AND ROTAR WING AIRCRAFT
3. INDIRECT FIRE/AIR MISSION WILL NOT BE FIRED UPON WITHOUT PERMISSION FORM CINCUSNAVEUR. FIREMISSION REQUESTS WILL BE FORWARDED VIA HQ, 24 MAU.
4. ARTILLERY/MORTAR CONDUCT OF FIRE (COF) NETS WILL NOT BE ACTIVATED EXCEPT FORT ROUTINE TRAINING, WITHOUT PERMISSION OF HQ, 24 MAU.
5. ACUTAL INDIRECT FIRE/AIR MISSIONS WOULD ONLY BE USED AS A LAST RESORT IF ALL OTHER MEANS OF DEFENDING THE MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE HAVE FAILED. THE POTENTIAL FOR LARGE NUMBERS OF INNOCENT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES ARISING FROM THE UE OF THESE WEAPONS MEANS THEY MUST BE HANDLED WITH CARE.
RECOMMENDED ROE CARD FOR ISSUE TO INDIVIDUAL MARINE
FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
GUIDELINES FOR ROE
1. WHEN ON POST, MOBILE OR FOOT PATROL, KEEP LOADED MAGAZINE IN WEAPON, BOLT CLOSED, WEAPON ON SAFE. NOT ROUND IN THE CHAMBER.
2. DO NOT CHAMBER A ROUND UNLESS TOLD TO DO SO BY A COMMISSIONED OFFICER UNLESS YOU MUST ACT IN IMMEDIATE SELF DEFENSE WHERE DEADLY FORCE IS AUTHORIZED.
3. KEEP AMMO FOR CREW SERVED WEAPONS READILY AVAILABLE BUT NOT LOADED, WEAPON IS ON SAFE.
4. CALL ON LOCAL FORCES TO ASSIST IN SELF DEFENSE EFFORT. NOTIFY HEADQUARTERS.
5. USE ONLY MINIUM DEGREE OF FORCE TO ACCOMPLISH ANY MISSION.
6. STOP THE USE OF FORCE WHEN IT IS NO LONGER NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION.
7. IF YOU RECEIVE EFFECTIVE HOSTILE FIRE, DIRECT YOUR FIRE AT THE SOURCE. IF POSSIBLE, USE FRIENDLY SNIPERS.
8. RESPECT CIVILIAN PROPERYT; DO NOT ATTACK IT UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO PROTECT FRIENDLY FORCES.
9. PROTECT INNOCENT CIVILIANS FROM HARM.
10. RESPECT AND PROTECT RECOGNIZED MEDICAL AGENCIES, RED CROSS, RED CRESCENT, ETC.
FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT FOR AMERICAN AND BRITISH EMBASSY
EXTERNAL SECURITY FORCES
1. LOADED MAGAZINES WILL BE IN WEAPONS AT ALL TIMES WHEN ON POST, BOLT CLOSED, WEAPON ON SAFE. NO ROUND WILL BE IN THE CHAMBER.
2. ROUND WILL BE CHAMBERED ONLY WHEN INTENDING TO FIRE.
3. WEAPON WILL BE FIRED ONLY UNDER THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANC
a. A HOSTILE ACT HAS BEEN COMMITTED.
(1) A HOSTILE ACT IS DEFINED AS ROUNDS FIRED AT THE EMBASSY, EMBASSY PERSONNEL, EMBASSY VEHICLE, OR MARINE SENTRIES.
(2) THE RESPONSE WILL BE PROPORTIONAL.
(3) THE RESPONSE WILL CEASE WHEN ATTACK CEASES.
(4) THERE WILL BE NO PURSUIT BY FIRE.
(5) A HOSTILE ACT FROM A VEHICLE IS WHEN IT CROSSES THE ESTABLISHED BARRICADE. FIRST FIRE TO DIEABL THE VEHICLE AND APPREHEND OCCUPANTS. IF THE VEHICLE CANNOT BE STOPPED, FIRE AT THE OCCUPANTS
(6) A HOSTILE ACT FORM AN INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP OF INFIVIDUALS IS PRESENT WHEN THEY CROSS THE BARRICADE AND WILL NOT STOP AFTER WARNINGS IN BOTH ARABIC AND FRENCH. IF THEY DO NOT STOP, FIRE AT THEM.
4. WELL AIMED FIE WILL BE USED; WEAPONS WILL NOT BE PLACED ON AUTOMATIC.
5. CARE WILL BE TAKEN TO AVOID CIVILIAN CASUALTIES.
1-The United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular
engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest, or that of our allies.
2-If we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so
wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning.
3-If we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political
and military objectives.
4-The relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed-their size,
composition, and disposition-must be continually reassessed and adjusted of necessary.
5-Before the United States commits forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we
will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress
6-The commitment of US forces to combat should be the last resource.
If force was to be used, it should be overwhelming, and its application should be decisive and preferably short. Military intervention should not be undertaken unless the outcome was all but guaranteed. The aims in using force needed to be precisely defined beforehand, and as soon as they were achieved American forces should be quickly extracted, least the Pentagon slide into a quagmire. American casualties had to be held to a minimum.
1- 24THMAU, BLT 1/8, Intelligence/situation reader, May 1983, pp. 3-4.
11-Ibid., p. 5.
12-Ibid., pp. 6-7.
19-Ibid. pp. 9-11.
31-Hammel, Eric, THE ROOT-The Marines in Beirut August 1982-February 1984, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, chapter 9, 1985.
32-24th MAU, BLT 1/8, ROE Card, May 1983, p.1.
33-Matthews, John B., LtCol USMC (ret), PHD, WHY LEBANON-Doctoral Thesis, p. 56.
35-24thMAU, BLT 1/8, ROE Card, May 1983, p.1.
36-Matthews, John B., LtCol USMC (ret), PHD, WHY LEBANON-Doctoral Thesis, pp. 71-77.
24thMAU, BLT 1/8, Intelligence/situation reader, May 1983.
24thMAU, BLT 1/8, ROE Card, May 1983.
Hammel, Eric, THE ROOT-The Marines in Beirut August 1982-February 1984, Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Publishers, 1985.
Long Commission Conclusions and Recommendations, US Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984, pp.
172-177, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC., 1987.
Matthews, John B., LtCol USMC (ret), PHD, WHY LEBANON- Doctoral Thesis.
Remarks By The Commandant of the Marine Corps, 31 October 1983, US Marines in Lebanon
1982-1984, pp. 163-171, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC., 1987.
US Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC., 1987.
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