The British Army has donated 100 armoured patrol vehicles to the Lebanese armed forces to assist in preventing militants crossing the border from Syria, the MoD announced on 12 February.
The Revised Weapons Mounted Installation Kit (RWMIK) Land Rovers, capable of tackling the rugged Syrian border terrain and which can mount heavy weapons, will allow Lebanese Land Border Regiments to keep closer watch over their borders and stop extremists trying to enter Lebanon, who could otherwise then attempt to travel on to Europe. The border is also used by international arms and drugs smugglers in potentially global transactions.
“We share a common enemy in Daesh. The UK will continue to work closely with our partners in the region to stamp out the threat posed by terrorist groups,” commented British Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey.
The RWMIKs are being retired this year after a long and successful period of operational service that includes Iraq and Afghanistan. Following a request from Gen Aoun, Lebanese Commander-in-Chief, to help bolster border security, the vehicles left the UK on 18 January and arrived safely in Lebanon on 31 January. The total value of the vehicles is £1.5million (€1.7 million).
A small specialist team from 16 Air Assault Brigade deployed to meet the vehicles on arrival in Beirut and has delivered an initial round of vehicle training. This training will continue in the spring to ensure the very best tactical and operational effect is derived from the vehicles. The Conflict Security and Stability fund is also providing £300,000 for spare parts for the vehicles.
The donation builds on significant support already provided to Lebanon by the UK, including the construction of 79 border towers, provision of 350 vehicles, and training over 23,000 security personnel. Following the devastating Beirut explosion in August 2020, the UK also provided £27 million in humanitarian assistance and deployed HMS ENTERPRISE to assist at the port - the first foreign ship to arrive in support of the Lebanese people.
In recent years, Lebanon has become an increasingly important counter-terrorism partner for the UK. British support support to the LAF - who drove Daesh out of Lebanese territory in 2017- is an important part of the UK’s contribution to counter-Daesh efforts in Iraq and Syria.