Assist ISF and LAF Families in These Desperate Times
There is no way to ignore the sword of Damocles hanging over the security services in Lebanon. It is shocking but true that deficits for both the ISF and LAF exceed 90% in the current budget. This affects everything from salaries and health services, to food supplies, operations, and staffing. At a program in Beirut on September 22, General Joseph Aoun, Commander of the LAF, Major General Imad Osman, Commander of the ISF, and US Ambassador Dorothy Shea addressed the difficulties facing the troops and their families.
Ambassador Shea noted that the US is the largest donor to the LAF providing some $2.6 billion since 2006 with an additional $56 million approved just the previous week. The current first-ever visit to the LAF of a naval training ship demonstrates that the US will continue to support training, materials, and equipment to ensure the LAF’s readiness and capacity. She assured the audience that the US invested in the LAF because of its professionalism and its respect for the human and civil rights of the people in Lebanon.
Ambassador Ed Gabriel, President of ATFL spoke after the officials, and asked both the virtual audience overseas and those in Lebanon to help address the needs of the troops. ATFL has joined with Spirit of America (www.spiritofamerica.org), the not-for-profit US organization made up of veterans of the US armed services who provide humanitarian assistance in conflict areas where US forces serve overseas.
Together we are committed to raising funds to support the families of the LAF and ISF who are under severe pressure as a result of the erosion of the Lebanese currency, economy, and essential supplies. Not only does the deficit impact their livelihoods, but it reduces their effectiveness and operational readiness as they have had to cut back funds allocated to operations and supplies in order to pay soldiers.
General Aoun provided details of how the lira, at an estimated rate of 15,000:1, has severely undermined personnel costs and gravely limited the Army’s patrols and logistics. Major General Osman noted that budget shortfalls mean that even basic arms and munitions are not available to the ISF, challenging the capacity of the troops to carry out their responsibilities.
A basic calculation is that a family can be supported with a contribution of $100 per month ($1200 annually). All donations will be transparently channeled through Spirit of America, which will provide details on how the monies are allocated. A video of the September 22 conference is available here.
In the meantime, you can donate at this link.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon.