Though the battle between ISIS and the Lebanese army in Arsal has quieted down (for now), Lebanon is gearing up for what could be a protracted conflict with the militant group. But the army is woefully undersupplied, especially with the sort of military tech needed to track and bombard militants from above. The country is set to receive $3 billion in French arms, financed by the Saudis, along with a direct grant of $1 billion from the Kingdom, but it is still looking for foreign and Arab partners to sell or donate the necessary equipment.To that end, Lebanon hopes that the United States will supply it with arms just as we did Iraq, according to the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis, a think tank with offices in the U.S. and the UAE:
According to a senior Lebanese military official, the LAF is in bad need to close air support with effective precision weapons. “The only single asset the LAF possessed that could provide good reconnaissance with efficient air support was the one Cessna Caravan aircraft armed with Hellfire rockets,” said the military official. He noted that the US refused to make the second Cessna it gave the LAF Hellfire-capable. “We hope the US would speed up the delivery of 12 AT-6 close air support planes that it had promised the LAF,” the official added. [….]But this still was not enough. The LAF needs better firepower and C4ISR assets. “The LAF’s aging T-55 (Russian) tanks broke down during the battle. Their guns misfired and engines died, which made the LAF heavily reliable on the only 10 M-60 tanks the US supplied the LAF with several years ago plus some M-48 tanks that are still operational. “We hope the US and the West would treat the LAF the same way it is treating the Iraqi Army which is fighting the same enemy: ISIS,” the official said. “We hope the U.S., France and other powers would expedite the sale and delivery of much needed precision weapons, attack aircrafts and defense systems to help the LAF which is now on the front line of defense against terrorism.” He noted that the Arsal battle was only “round one with ISIS” and it is only a matter of time before “round two starts.”
With ISIS settling in on Lebanon’s border, not far from U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, the United States may find itself involved in yet another front of this war.