Lebanese Arab Army

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Lebanese Arab Army (LAA)
Participant in Lebanese Civil War
Lebanesearmyfirstflag.png
Flag of the Lebanese Arab Army (1976-77)
Active 1976-1977
Groups Lebanese National Movement
Leaders Ahmed al-Khatib, Ahmed Boutari, Ahmad Ma'amari, Ghazi Ghotaymi, Youssif Mansour, Ahmad Addam, Mustafa Hamdan
Headquarters Hasbayya (Beqaa Valley)
Strength 4,400 men
Originated as 900 men
Allies Lebanese National Movement, Palestine Liberation Organization
Opponents Kataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF), Al-Tanzim, Marada Brigade, Tigers Militia, Guardians of the Cedars (GoC), Army of Free Lebanon (AFL), Syrian Army, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

The Lebanese Arab Army – LAA (Arabic: جيش لبنان العربي transliteration Jaysh Lubnan al-Arabi), also known as the Arab Army of Lebanon (AAL) or Armée du Liban Arabe (ALA) in French, was a predominantely Muslim splinter faction of the Lebanese Army that came to play a key role in the 1975–77 phase of the Lebanese Civil War.

Origins[edit]

On January 21, 1976, at the Elias Abou Sleiman barracks in Ablah, Zahlé District, in the Beqaa Valley, 900 Lebanese Muslim soldiers serving with the 1st Armoured Brigade (aka 'First Brigade') refused to fight against their coreligionists of the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) and mutined under the leadership of Lieutenant Ahmed al-Khatib, a Sunni Muslim officer in the Lebanese Army, who urged his fellow Muslims to desert. The mutiny quickly spread to other Army garrisons on the southern part of the Beqaa and within a month, Lt. Khatib had rallied to his cause some 2,000-3,000 soldiers from the First Brigade,[1][2] well-equipped with heavy weapons (including tanks and artillery).[3] They became the core of the new Lebanese Arab Army (LAA), who promptly went to the side of the LNM – Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) alliance fighting the Christian Lebanese Front militias on the ongoing Lebanese Civil War.[4]

On the surface, Khatib's rebellion seemed a spontaneous act that reflected Muslim discontent within the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) against their predominantely Christian leadership. The reality, however, was more complex. In fact, the mutiny had been secretly orchestrated by Fatah, the main Palestinian faction and had well-defined objectives. Fatah leaders – notably Yasser Arafat, Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad and Ali Hassan Salameh – had always regarded the Lebanese Army as a potential military threat to the PLO, a threat neutralized by the formation of the LAA.[5]

Structure and organization[edit]

Weapons and equipment[edit]

The LAA was equipped largely from stocks drawn from Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces (ISF) reserves, with small-arms taken directly from Army barracks and ISF police stations or channelled via the PLO.

Small-arms[edit]

LAA infantry units were issued M1A1 Thompson submachine-guns, AK-47, AKM, FN FAL and M16A1 assault rifles; RPD, FN MAG and M60 light machine guns were used as squad weapons, with heavier Browning M1919A4/Mk 21 and Browning M2HB .50 Cal machine guns being employed as platoon and company weapons. Officers and NCOs received FN P35 and MAB PA-15 pistols. Crew-served weapons consisted of RL-83 Blindicide, RPG-2 and RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers, M2 60mm mortars, M30 4.2 inch (106.7mm) mortars,[6] B-10 82mm and M40 106mm recoilless rifles, and one-shot Grad-P 122mm Light portable rocket systems.[7]

Armoured and transport vehicles[edit]

By using the assets of the First Brigade, the LAA built a powerful armoured corps made of 40 Charioteer tanks,[8][9][10] M41 Walker Bulldog[11][12] and AMX-13[13][14] light tanks, M42 Duster SPAAGs,[15] and Panhard AML-90[16][17][18] and Staghound armoured cars.[19] Infantry companies were provided with tracked M113,[20][21] sixteen M59 amphibious and wheeled Panhard M3 VTT armoured personnel carriers; a few BMP-1 APCs were later captured from the Syrian Army in 1976.[22][23] Artillery units relied on military trucks and M5A1 artillery tractors to tow its field guns and howitzers.[24]

A fleet of liaison and transport vehicles were also employed for logistical support, which included US Willys M38A1 MD jeeps,[25] US M151A1 jeeps, US Kaiser M715 jeeps, US Jeep Gladiator J20 pickup trucks,[26][27] US Chevrolet C-10/C-15 pickup trucks,[28] British Land-Rover Mk IIA-III light pickups, plus heavier Saviem SM8 TRM 4000 4x4, Berliet GBC 8KT 6x6, British Bedford RL lorries, Soviet KrAZ 255 6x6,[29][30] Chevrolet Series 50 light-duty, Dodge F600 medium-duty, GMC C7500 medium-duty trucks and US M35A1 2½-ton 6x6 cargo trucks. They were also used as gun-trucks (aka technicals) in the direct fire support role on LAA operations, fitted with heavy machine guns (HMGs), recoilless rifles, and anti-aircraft autocannons.

Artillery[edit]

Their artillery corps fielded a number of artillery pieces of several types, comprising Soviet 2A18 (D-30) 122mm howitzers, French Mle 1950 BF-50 155mm howitzers, and US M101A1 105mm towed field howitzers.[31] Yugoslav Zastava M55 20mm triple-barreled[32] and Soviet ZU-23-2 23mm twin-barreled anti-aircraft autocannons (mounted on M113 APCs) were also employed in both the air defense and direct fire supporting roles.[33]

Vanguards of the Lebanese Arab Army[edit]

The Vanguards of the Lebanese Arab Army – VLAA (Arabic: Talaei al-Jayish al-Arabi al-Lubnani) or Avant-guardes du Armée du Liban Arabe – AALA in French, were a short-lived splinter faction of the LAA established in mid-June 1976 by two Lebanese Army officers whom openly defied Lt Khatib's leadership, the commander of the First Brigade Brigadier-General Ibrahim Shaheen and Captain Jamil al-Sayyid.[34][35][36] Created and sponsored by Syria, in the hope of attracting both Muslim and Christian officers and enlisted men[37] to act as a counterweigth to the Palestinian-supported LAA, the VLAA however, failed to attrack a sizeable following and it was largely ineffective. The only relevant action carried out by the Syrian-sponsored VLAA was the deployment of some of its elements around the southern town of Nabatiyeh in August 1976;[38] for most of the time, VLAA troops were confined to barracks.

Decline and disbandement[edit]

Khatib’s opposition to the June 1976 Syrian intervention in Lebanon, however, marked the beginning of the end for his LAA faction. Although they did put a stiff resistance – notably in early October 1976 at the Battle of Bhamdoun in the Chouf District where they inflicted heavy losses on the Syrian 3rd Armoured Division[39][40] – its numbers dwindled to a few hundred by the end of the year, as many of Khatib’s soldiers deserted after realizing that they had been played and used by the PLO. Increasingly military weakened and politically marginalized, the LAA suffered a final, shattering blow on January 18, 1977 when Syrian authorities invited the entire LAA leadership – Khatib, Ghotaymi, Manssour, Hamdan, and Addam – to a meeting with president Hafez al-Assad in Damascus. However, upon crossing the border to Syria, they were immediately detained and secretly held in the infamous Mezzeh Military Prison. After spending between 18 – 24 months in prison, they were subsequently released on the condition they resign their commissions and abstain from all political and military activity thereafter. Their political role at an end, both the LAA and VLAA were disbanded (the Syrian Officers that had deserted to the LAA the previous year were arrested and shot), with their Officers and enlisted men being returned to the First Brigade which was re-incorporated into the official Lebanese Army order-of-battle in February 1977.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ McGowan, Roberts, Abu Khalil, and Scott Mason, Lebanon: a country study (1989), p. 242.
  2. ^ Collelo, Lebanon: a country study (1989), p. 239.
  3. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 44-45.
  4. ^ Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon (1989), p. 72.
  5. ^ Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban (2004), p. 31.
  6. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 21.
  7. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  8. ^ Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975–1978, p. 10.
  9. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  10. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), pp. 38-39; 50.
  11. ^ Miguel "Mig" Jimenez & Jorge Lopez, M41 Bulldog au Liban, Steelmasters Magazine, June–July 2005 issue, pp. 18-22.
  12. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 50.
  13. ^ Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975-1978, p. 11.
  14. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 49.
  15. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), pp. 51; 53.
  16. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 23.
  17. ^ Badran, Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (2010), pp. 50-52.
  18. ^ Hamizrachi, The Emergence of South Lebanon Security Belt (1984), pp. 55-89.
  19. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 50.
  20. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 23.
  21. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), pp. 49-50.
  22. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 72.
  23. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 66.
  24. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 51.
  25. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 53.
  26. ^ El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks (2008), p. 19.
  27. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 6.
  28. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 52.
  29. ^ Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975-1978, p. 9.
  30. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 29.
  31. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 52.
  32. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 53.
  33. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  34. ^ Dossier: Jamil al-Sayyid - 2000 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
  35. ^ Jamil al Sayyed Info - 6 April 2005 http://forum.tayyar.org/f8/b-jamil-al-sayyed-info-3123/
  36. ^ Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon (1989), p. 72.
  37. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 53.
  38. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 58.
  39. ^ Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2003), p. 7.
  40. ^ Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975-1978, pp. 11-13.

References[edit]

  • Afaf Sabeh McGowan, John Roberts, As'ad Abu Khalil, and Robert Scott Mason, Lebanon: a country study, area handbook series, Headquarters, Department of the Army (DA Pam 550-24), Washington D.C. 1989. - [1]
  • Alain Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban: Du coup d'état de Béchir Gémayel aux massacres des camps palestiniens, Albin Michel, Paris 2004. ISBN 978-2226121271 (in French)
  • Beate Hamizrachi, The Emergence of South Lebanon Security Belt, Praeger, New York 1984. ISBN 978-0-275-92854-4
  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975–92, Palgrave Macmillan, London 1998. ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Itamar Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon, 1970-1985, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1989 (revised edition). ISBN 978-0-8014-9313-3, 0-8014-9313-7
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • Naomi Joy Weinberger, Syrian Intervention in Lebanon: The 1975-76 Civil War, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1986. ISBN 978-0195040104, 0195040104
  • Paul Jureidini, R. D. McLaurin, and James Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas, 1975-1978, Aberdeen, MD: U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Technical Memorandum 11-79, June 1979.
  • Philipe Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975-1978, Steelmasters Magazine, August–September 2012, pp. 8–16. ISSN 1962-4654 (in French)
  • Rex Brynen, Sanctuary and Survival: the PLO in Lebanon, Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Samer Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981, Trebia Publishing, Chyah 2012. ISBN 978-9953-0-2372-4
  • Steven J. Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2): The wars of 1973 to the present, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 2003. ISBN 962-361-613-9
  • Thomas Collelo (ed.), Lebanon: a country study, Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Headquarters, Department of the Army (DA Pam 550-24), Washington D.C., December 1987 (Third edition 1989). – [2]
  • Tony Badran (Barry Rubin ed.), Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan, London 2010. ISBN 978-0-230-62306-4

External links[edit]