Text for Report of the DOD Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, October 23, 1983.
REPORT OF THE
DOD COMMISSION ON BEIRUT
TERRORIST ACT, OCTOBER 23, 1983
20 DECEMBER 1983
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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PHILOSOPHY ••• 17
. THE COMMISSION
METHODOLOGY. • • '
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GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY ••••••••• •'" •
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RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL FACTIONS
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...!E::.:VE~::!.N~T~S~. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ...., .·.. . .... . ..... .
JUNE 1982 OCTOBER 1983 •• 29
23 OCTOBER 1983 .••.••.••••
24 OCTOBER -30 NOVEMBER 1983. ·. • • • 33
PART ONE -THE MILITARY MISSION ••••••••••••••••••••••••• 35
MISS ION DEVELOPMENT
CHANGING ENVIRONMENT •••.•••.••••••••••••••••••••• 40
THE EXPANDING MILITARY ROLE •••••••••••••••••••••• 43
PART TWO -RULES OF ENGAGEMENT •••••••••••••••••••••••••• 46
. ROE DEVELOPMENT
ROE IMPLEMENTATION ••.•••••••••••.•••••••••••••••• 50
PART THREE -THE CHAIN OF COMMAND •••���••••••••••••••••••• 55
EXERCISE OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY BY THE
CHAIN OF COMMAND
PART FOUR -INTELLIGENCE .•.•
tTHE THREAT ••••• ~. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• 59
PART FIVE -PRE-ATTACK SECURITy••••••••••••••••••••••••• 69
24TH MAU/BLT 1-8 HEADqUARTERS COMPOUND •••••••••••• 69
BLT HEADQUARTERS BUILDING ••••••••••••••••••••••••• 71
BLT HEADQUARTERS ORGANIZATION, OPERATIONS AND
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SECURITY GUARD ORGANIZATION AND EXECUTION •••���••
COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SECURITY OF THE
24TH MAU AND BLT 1/8 PRIOR TO 23 OCTOBER 1983 •••••• 81
PART SIX -23 OCTOBER 1983
THE TERRORIST ATTACK
.. THE AFTERMATH ............................................................................
PART SEVEN -POST-ATTACK SECURITY.~ •••••••••••••••••••••• 89
REDEPLOYMENT, DISPERSAL AND PHYSICAL BARRIERS •.•••• 89
PART EIGHT -CASUALTY HANDLING
ON-SCENE MEDICAL CARE
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AEROMEDICAL EVACUATION/CASUALTY DISTRIBUTION ••••••• 99
DEFINITIVE MEDICAL CARE
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DEAD ••••••..•••••••••••••••. 108
-A TERRORIST ACT •••••••••••••••••111
MILITARY PREPAREDNESS .............................119
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On 23 October 1983, a truck laden with the equivalent of over 12,000 pounds of TNT crashed through the perimeter of the compound of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force at Beirut International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon, penetrated the Battalion Landing Team Headquarters building and detonated. The force of the explosion destroyed the building resulting in the deaths of 241 U.S. military personnel. This report examines the circumsta,nces of that terrorist attack and its immediate "aftermath., ;
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The DOD Commission on Beirut International Airport (BIA) Terrorist Act of 23 October 1983 was convened by the Secretary of Defense on 7 November 1983 to conduct an independent inquiry into the 23 October 1983 terrorist attack on the Marine Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. The Commission examined the mission of the U.S. Marines assigned to the Multinational Force, the rules of engagement governing their conduct, the responsiveness of the chain of command, the intelligence support, the security measures in place before and after the attack, the attack itself, and the adequacy of casualty handling procedures.
The Commission traveled to Lebanon, Israel, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, interviewed over 125 witnesses ranging from national policy makers to Lebanese Armed Forces privates, and reviewed extensive documentation from Washington agencies, including the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as all echelons of the operational chain of command and certain elements of the Department of the Navy administrative chain of command.
The Commission focused on the.security of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force through 30 November 1983. Although briefed on some security aspects of other
U.S. military elements in Lebanon, the Commission came to no definitive conclusions or recommendations as to those elements.
The Commission was composed of Admiral Robert L. J • Long, USN, (Ret), Chairman; the Honorable Robert J. Murray; Lieutenant General Lawrence F. Snowden, USMC, (Ret), Lieutenant General Eu~ene F. Tighe, Jr, USAF, (Ret), and Lieutenant General Jo~eph T. Palastra, Jr, USA •
./ U.S. military forces were inserted into Lebanon on ~9 September 1982 as part of a Multinational Force composed of U.S., French, Italian and, somewhat later, British Forces• The mission of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force (USMNF) was to establish an environment that would facilitate the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Lebanon and to assist the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in establishing soverei~nty and authority over the Beirut area. Initially, the
USHNF was warmly welcomed by the local populace. The environment was essentially henign and continued that way into the spring of 1983. The operation was intended
to be of short duration.
The destruction of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on 18 Aoril 1983 was indicative of the extent of the deterioration of the political/military situation in Lebanon that had occurred since the arrival of the USMNF. By August 1983, the LAF were engaged in direct conflict with factional militias and USMNF positions at Beirut International Airport began receiving hostile fire. Attacks against the Hultinational Force in the form of car bombs and sniper fire increased in frequency. By September, the LAF were locked in combat for control of the high ground overlooking Beirut International Airport and U.S. Naval gunfire was used in support of the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb after determination by the National Security Council that LAF retention of Suq-AlGharb
was essential to the security of USt1NF positions at Beirut International Airoort.
Intelligence support for the USI1NF provided a broad spectrum of coverage of possible threats. Between t1ay and November 1983, over 100 intelligence reports warning of terrorist car bomb attacks were received by the USMNF. Those warnings provided little specific information on how and when a threat might be carried out. From August 1983 to the 23 October attack, the USMNF was virtually flooded with terrorist attack warnings.
On October 1983, a large truck laden with the explosive equivalent of over 12,000 pounds of TNT crashed through the perimeter of the USHNF compound at Beirut International Airport, penetrated the Battalion Landing Team Headquarters building and detonated. The force of the explosion destroyed the building, resulting in the deaths of 241 U.S. military personnel.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Forensic Laboratory
descrihed the terrorist bomb as the largest conventional
blast ever seen by the FBI's forensic explosive experts. Based upon the FBI analysis of the bomb that destroyed the
U.S. Embassy on 18 April 1983, and the FBI preliminary findings
on the bomb used on 23 October 1983; the Commission believes that the explosive equivalent of the latter device was of such magnitude that major damage to the , " I
" Ii ii H
Battalion Landing Team Headquarters building and significant casualties would probably have resulted even if the terrorist truck had not penetrated the USMNF defensive perimeter but had detonated in the roadway some 330 feet from the building.
Summary of General Observations.
The Commission believes that the most important message it can bring to the Secretary of Defense is that the 23 October 1983 attack on the Marine Battalion Landing Team Headquarters in Beirut was tantamount to an act of war using the medium of terrorism. Terrorist warfare, sponsored by sovereign states or organized political entities to achieve political objectives, is a threat to the United States that is increasing at an alarming rate. The 23 October catastrophe underscores the fact that terrorist warfare can have significant political impact and demonstrates that the united States, and specifically the Department of Defense, is inadequately prepared to deal with this threat. Much needs to be done, on an urgent basis, to prepare U.S. military forces to defend against and counter terrorist warfare.
2. Performance of the USI1NF.
The USMNF was assigned the unique and difficult task of maintaining a peaceful presence in an increasingly hostile envirvnment. United States military personnel assigned or 'attached to the us~mF performed superbly, incurring great personal risk to accomplish their assigned tasks. In the aftermath of the attack of 23 October 1983, U.S. military personnel performed selfless and often heroic acts to assist in the extraction of their wounded and dead comrades from the rubble anc to evacuate the injured. The Commission has the highest admiration for the manner in which U.S. military personnel responded to this catastrophe.
3. Security followinq the 23 October 1983 Attack.
The security posture of the USMNF subsequent to the 23 October 1983 attack was examined closely by the Commission. A series of actions was initi~ted by the chain of command to enhance the security of the USMNF, and reduce the vulnerability of the USMNF to further catastrophic losses. However, the security"measures implemented or planned for implementation as of 30 November 1983 were not adequate to
t prevent continuing significant attrition of USMNF personnel.
4. Intelligence Support.
Even the best of intelligence will not guarantee the security of any military position. However, specific data on the terrorist threats to the USMNF, data which could best be provided by carefully trained intelligence agents, could have enabled the USMNF Commander to better prepare his force and facilities to blunt the effectiveness of a suicidal vehicle attack of great explosive force.
The USMNF commander did not have effective U.S. Human Intelligence (HUMINT) support. The paucity of U.S. controlled HUMINT is partly due to U.S. policy decisions to reduce HUMINT collection worldwide. The U.S. has a HUMINT capability commensurate with the resources and time that has been spent to acquire it. The lesson of Beirut is that we must have better HUMINT to support military planning and operations. We see here a critical repetition of a long line of similar lessons learned during crisis situations in many other parts of the world.
5. Casualty Handling Procedures.
The Commission examined the adequacy of casualty handling procedures, with the advice and support of professional medical staff.
The Commission found that, following the initial, understandable confusion, the response of the U.S., Lebanese and Italian personnel in providing immediate on-scene medical care was professional and, indeed, heroic. The CTF 61/62 Mass Casualty Plan was quickly implemented: triage and treatment sites were established ashore, and medical support from afloat units was transported to the scene. Evacuation aircraft were requested.
Within thirty minutes of the explosion the British offered the use of their hospital at the Royal Air Force Base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, and this offer was accepted by CTE'
61. The additional British offer of medical evacuation aircraft was also accepted. Both offers proved invaluable.
Offers of medical assistance from France and Israel were subsequently received but were deemed unnecessary because the medical capabilities organic to CTF6l were already operational and functioning adequately, the hospital at Akrotiri was by then mobilized and ready, and sufficient
U.S. and Royal Air Force medical evacuation aircraft were
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enroute.. The Commission found no evidence to indicate any
considerations but the desire to provide immediate,
professional treatment for the wounded influenced decisions
regarding these offers of outside assistance.
The Commission found no evidence to indicate that deaths among the wounded in action resulted from inadequate or inappropriate Care during evacuation to hospitals.
The Commission did find several serious problem areas in the evacuation of casualties to u.s. military hospitals in Germany. Actions were taken that resulted in some seriously wounded patients being delayed about four hours in arriving at hospital facilities. The Commission believes that these actions warrant further investigation. The Commission found no evidence, however, that any patient was adversely affected by these delays.
The Commission holds the view that military commanders are responsible for the performance of their subordinates. The commander can delegate some or all of his authority to his subordinates, but he cannot delegate his responsibility for the performance of the forces he commands. In that sense, the responsibility of military command is absolute. This view of command authority and responsibility guided the Commission in its analysis of the effectiveness of the exercise of command authori ty and _.responsibility of the chain of command charged with the security and performance of the USMNF.
The Commission found that the combination of a large volume of unfulfilled threat warnings and perceived and real pressure to accomplish a unique and difficult mission contributed significantly to the decisions of the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) and Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Commanders regarding the security of their force. Nevertheless, the Commission found that the security measures in effect in the MAU compound were neither commensurate with the increasing level of threat confronting the USMNF. nor sufficient to preclude catastrophic losses such as those that were suffered on the morning of 23 October 1983. The Commission further found that while it may have appeared to be an appropriate response to the indirect fire being received, the decision to billet approximately one-quarter of the BLT in a single structure contributed to the catastrophic loss of life.
The Commission found that the BLT Commander must take
responsibility for the concentration of approximately 350 members of his command in the BLT Headquarters building
thereby providing a lucrative target for attack. Further,
the BLT Commander modified prescribed alert procedures,
thereby degrading security of the compound.
The Commission also found that the MAU Commander shares the responsibility for the catastrophic losses in that he condoned the concentration of personnel in the BLT Headquarters building, .concurred in the relaxation of prescribed alert procedures, and emphasized safety over security in directing that sentries on Posts 4, 5, 6, and 7 would not load their weapons.
The Commission found further that the USCINCEUR operational chain of command shares in the responsibility for the events of 23 October 1983.
Having reached the foregoing conclusions, the Commission further notes that although it found the entire USCINCEUR chain of command, down to and including the BLT Commander, to be at fault, it also found that there was a series of circumstances beyond the control of these commanders that influenced their judgement and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
All conclusions and recommendations of the Commission
from each substantive part of below.
A. Mission Development and Execution
The Commission concludes
"presence" mission was not interpreted the same by all levels of the chain of command and that perceptual differences regarding that mission, including the responsibility of the USMNF for the security of Beirut International Airport, should have been recognized and corrected by the chain of command.
B. The Expanding Military Role
(a) The Commission concludes that u.s. decisions as regards Lebanon taken over the past fifteen months have been, to a large degree, characterized by an emphasis on military options and the expansion of the u.S. military role, notwithstanding the fact that the ==~=:t:=~~ upon which the security of the USMNF were based continued to deteriorate as progress toward a diplomatic solution slowed. f The Commission fur_ner concludes that these decisions may i have been taken without clear recognition that these initial conditions had dramatically changed and that the expansion ( of our military involvement in Lebanon greatly increased the l risk to, and adversely impacted upon the security of, the USMNF. The Commission therefore concludes that there is an urgent need for reassessment of alternative means to achieve
u.s. objectives in Lebanon and at the same time reduce the risk to the USMNF.
The Commission recommends that the t Secretary of Defense continue to urge that the National Security Council undertake a reexamination of alternative means of achieving u.s. objectives in Lebanon, to include a c comprehensive assessment of the military security options c being developed by the chain of command and a more vigorous c and demanding approach to pursuing diplomatic alternatives. i
2. PART TWO -RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (ROE)
A. ROE Implementation
The Commission concludes that a single c set of ROE providing specific guidance for countering the type of vehicular terrorist attacks that destroyed the U.S. E Embassy on 18 April 1983 and the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983 had not been provided to, nor implemented by, the Marine Amphibious Unit Commander.
The Commission concludes that the mission statement, the original ROE, and the implementation in May 1983 of dual "Blue Card -White,Card" ROE contributed to a mind-set that detracted from the readiness of the USMNF to respond to the terrorist threat which materialized on 23
3. PART THREE -THE CHAIN OF COMMAND A. Exercise of Command Responsibility by the Chain of Command Prior to 23 October 1983
The Commission is fully aware that the enClre chain of command was heavily involved in the planning for, and support of, the USMNF. The Commission concludes, however, that USCINCEUR, CINCUSNAVEUR, COMSIXTHFLT and CTF 61 did not initiate actions to ensure the security of the USMNF in light of the deteriorating political/military situation in Lebanon. The Commission found a lack of effective command supervision of the USMNF security posture prior to 23 October 1983.
The Commission concludes that the failure of the operational chain of command to correct or amend the defensive posture of the USMNF constituted tacit approval of the security measures and procedures in force at the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983.
The Commission further concludes that although it finds the USCINCEUR operational chain of command at fault, it also finds that there was a series of circumstances beyond the control of these commands that influenced their judgement and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense take whatever administrative or disciplinary action he deems appropriate, citing the failure of the USCINCEUR operational chain of command to monitor and supervise effectively the security measures and procedures employed by the USMNF on 23 October 1983.
The Commission concludes
large volume of
warnings concerning potential terrorist threats prior to 23 October 1983, he was not provided with the timely intelligence, tailore9 to his specific operational needs, that was necessary to defend against the broad spectrum of
threats he faced. (b)
The Commission further concludes that the HUMINT support to the USMNF Commander was ineffective, being neither precise nor tailored to his needs. The Commission believes that the paucity of U.S. controlled HUMINT provided to theUSMNF Commander is in large p2rt due to policy decisions which have resulted in a U.S. HUMINT capability commensurate with the resources and time that have been spent to acquire it.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense establish an all-source fusion center, which would tailor and focus all-source intelligence support to U.S. military commanders involved in military operations in areas of high threat, conflict or crisis.
The Commission further recommends that the Secretary of Defense take steps to establish a joint CIA/DOD examination of policy and resource alternatives to immediately improve HUMINT support to the USMNF contingent in Lebanon and other areas of potential conflict which would involve U.S. military operating forces.
5. PART FIVE -PRE-ATTACK SECURITY
A. Command Res onsibilit for the Securit of the 24th MAU and BLT 1 8 Prior to 23 October 1983
The combination of a large volume of specific threat warnings that never materialized and the perceived and real pressure to accomplish a unique and difficult mission contributed significantly to the decisions of the MAU and BLT Commanders regarding the security of their force. Nevertheless, the Commission concludes that the security measures in effect in the MAU compound were neither commensurate with the increasing level of threat confronting the USMNF nor sufficient to preclude catastrophic losses such as those that were suffered on the morning of 23 October 1983. The Commission further concludes that while it may have appeared to be an appropriate response to the indirect fire being received, the decision to billet approximately one quarter of the BLT in a single structure contributed to the catastrophic loss of life.
(b) The Commission concludes that the BLT I
commander must take responsibility for the concentration of
approximately 350 members of his command in the BLT
Headquarters building, thereby providing a lucrative target for attack. Further, the BLT Commander modified prescribed ~lert procedures, thereby degrading security of the ,.
The Commission also concludes that the MAU Commander shares the responsibility for the catastrophic losses in that he condoned the concentration of personnel in the BLT Headquarters building, concurred in the modification of prescribed alert procedures, and emphasized safety over security in directing that sentries on Posts 4, 5, 6, and 7 would not load their weapons.
The Commission further concludes that although it finds the BLT and MAU Commanders to be at fault, it also finds that there was a series of circumstances beyond their control that influenced their judgement and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense take whatever administrative or disciplinary action he deems appropriate, citing the failure of the BLT and MAU Commanders to take the security measures necessary to preclude the catastrophic loss of life in the attack on 23 October 1983. .
6. PART SEVEN -POST-ATTACK SECURITY
A. Redeployment, Dispersal and Physical Barriers
The Commission concludes that the secu~ity measures taken since 23 October 1983 have reduced the vulnerability of the USMNF to catastrophic losses. The Commission also concludes, however, that the security measures implemented or planned for implementation for the USMNF as of 30 November 1983, were not adequate to prevent continuing significant attrition of the force.
The Commission recognizes that the current disposition of USMNF forces may, after careful examination, prove to be the best available option. The Commission concludes, however, that a comprehensive set of alternatives should be immediately prepared and presented to the National Security Council.
429-987 0 -84 -2 _._-(
(a) Recognizing that the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been actively =eas.s2':::s:~; t~e i::==e:asec ·1/~:.:l!1.era:;ili ty c~ the USHNF as the political/military environment in Lebanon has changed, the Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct
the operational chain of command to continue to develop alternative military options for accomplishing the mission of the USMNF while reducing the risk to the force.
7. PART EIGHT -CASUALTY HANDLING
A. On-Scene Medical Care
The Commission concludes that the speed with which the on-scene U.S. military personnel reacted to rescue their comrades trapped in the devastated building and to render medical care was nothing short of heroic. The rapid response by Italian and Lebanese medical personnel was invaluable.
Aeromedical Evacuation/Casualty Distribution
The Commission found no evidence that any of the wounded died or received improper medical care as a result of the evacuation or casualty distribution procedures. Nevertheless, the Commission concludes that overall medical support planning in the European theater was deficient and that there was an insufficient number of experienced medical planning staff officers in the USCINCEUR chain of command.
The Commission found that the evacuation of the seriously wounded to U.S. hospitals in Germany, a transit of more than four hours, rather than to the British hospital in Akrotiri, Cyprus" a transit of one hour, appears to have increased the risk to those patients. Similarly, the Commission found that the subsequent decision to land the aircraft at Rhein Main rather than Ramstein, Germany, may have increased the risk to the most seriously wounded. In both instances, however, the Commission has no evidence that there was an adverse medical impact on the patients.
The Commission recommends that the secretary of Defense direct the Joirit Chiefs of staff, in coordination with the Services, to review medical plans and staffing of each echelon of the operational and administrative chains of command to ensure appropriate and adequate medical support for the USMNF.
The Commission further recommends that the secretary of Defense direct USCINCEUR to conduct an investigation of the decisions made regarding the destination of aeromedical evacuation aircraft and the distribution of casualties on 23 October 1983.
C. Definitive Medical Care
The Commission concludes that the definitive medical care provided the wounded at the various treatment facilities was excellent, and that as of 30 November 1983, there is no evidence of any mortality or morbidity resulting from inappropriate or insufficient medical care.
D. Israeli Offer of Medical Assistance
The Commission found no evidence that any factor other than the desire to provide immediate, professional treatment for the wounded influenced decisions regarding the Israeli offer; all offers of assistance by Israel were promptly and properly referred to _,the theater and on-scene commanders. At the time the initial Israeli offer was reviewed by CTF 61, it was deemed not necessary because the medical capabilities organic to CTF 61 were operational and functioning adequately, the RAF hospital at Akrotiri was mobilized and ready, and sufficient u.s. and RAF medical evacuation aircraft were enroute.
E. Identification of the Dead
The Commission concludes that the process for identification of the dead following the 23 October 1983 catastrophe was conducted very efficiently and professionally, despite the complications caused by the destruction and/or absence of identification data. (2)
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the creation of duplicate medical/dental records, and assure the availability of fingerprint files, for all military personnel. The Commission further recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the Service Secretaries to develop jOintly improved state-of-the-art identification tags for all military , personnel.
8. PART NINE -MILITARY RESPONSE TO TERRORISM
A. A Terrorist Act
The Commission concludes that the 23 October 1983 bombing of the BLT Headquarters building was a terrorist act sponsored by sovereign states or organized political entities for the purpose of defeating U.S. objectives in Lebanon.
The Commission concludes that international terrorist acts endemic to the Middle East are indicative of an alarming world-wlde phenomenon that poses an increasing threat to U.S. personnel and facilities.
Terrorism as a Mode of Warfare
The Commission concludes that state sponsored terrorism is an important part of the spectrum of warfare and that adequate response to this increasing threat requires an active national policy which seeks to deter attack or reduce its effectiveness. The Commission further concludes that this policy needs to be supported by political and diplomatic actions and by a wide range of timely military response capabilities.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a broad range of appropriate military responses to
terrorism for review, along with political and diplomatic
actions, by the National Security Council.
D. Military Preparedness
The Commission concludes that the USMNF was not trained, organized, staffed, or supported to deal effectively with the terrorist threat in Lebanon. The Commission further concludes that much needs to be done to prepare U.S. military forces to defend against and counter terrorism.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the development of doctrine, planning, organization, force structure, education and training necessary to defend against and counter terrorism.
I. THE REPORT
Organization of the report of the DOD Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, October 23, 1983 into ten parts reflects the Commission's conviction that a thorough understanding of the circumstances surrounding the bombing of the BLT Headquarters on 23 October 1983 requires comprehension of a number of separate, but closely related, substantive areas. The order of presentation of the several parts is designed to provide a logical progression of information.
PART ONE of the report addresses the development of the mission assigned to the USMNF, assesses mission clarity and analyzes the continued validity of the assumptions upon which the mission was premised. PART TWO addresses the adequacy of the rules of engagement that governed the execution of the mission. PART THREE outlines the chain of command that was tasked with the accomplishment of the military mission and assesses its responsiveness to the security requirements of the US~~F in the changing threat environment. PART FOUR examines the threat to the USMNF, both before and after the attack, and assesses the adequacyof the intelligence provided to the USMNF commander. PART FIVE analyzes the security measures that were in force prior to the attack. PART SIX provides a comprehensive recapitulation of the tragic events of 23 October 1983. PART SEVEN describes the security measures instit.uted subsequent to the bombing and assesses their adequacy. PART EIGHT is a reconstruction and evaluation of on-scene casualty handling procedures, aeromedical evacuation and definitive medical care provided to the victims of the attack. PART EIGHT also addresses the circumstances surrounding the Israeli offer of medical assistance and examines the basis for its non-acceptance. PART NINE addresses the 23 October 1983 bombing in the context of international terrorism and assesses the readiness of u.s. military forces to cope with the terrorist threat. PART TEN lists the Commission's major conclusions and
PARTS ONE through NINE consist of one or more subparts providing a recitation of the Commission's principal findings of fact in that substantive area, a discussion of the significance of those findings, and, as appropriate, conclusions and recommendations.
In preparing this report, the Commission,analyzed those factors bearing upon the security of the USMNF in Lebanon in general, and the security of the BLT Headquarters building in particular. The Commission began with the premise that
u.s. participation in the Multinational Force was designed to support the efforts of the United States and its allies to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Lebanon and to assist the Lebanese Government in establishing sovereignty and authority over the Beirut area. The Commission did not question the political decision to insert the Marines into Lebanon and did not address the political necessity of their continued participation in the Multinational Force following the 23 October 1983 terrorist attack. Although those political judgements are beyond the purview of the Commission's Charter, and are not addressed in the report, that fact did not impede the work of the Commission in examining the impact of those policy decisions on the security of the USMNF.
The Commission reviewed the responsiveness of the
military chain of command as it pertained to the security
requirements of the USMNF. The Commission did not conduct
an administrative inspection of any h~pdquarters element
during the review process.
The Commission's focus was on the bombing of 23 October 1983 and the security of the USMNF both prior to and subsequent to that catastrophic event. The security of offshore
supporting forces was not reviewed in depth by the Commission. The security of other American personnel in Lebanon was not considered, being outside the Commission's Char ter.
five member DOD Commission
Airport Terrorist Act, October 23, 1983 was established by
the secretary of Defense on 7 November 1983 to conduct a
thorough and independent inquiry into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the 23 October 1983 terrorist bomb attack on the Marine Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Headquarters at the Beirut International Airport (BIA).
The Commission was established pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Public Law 92-463) and was governed in its proceedings by Executive Order 12024 and implementing General Services Administration and Department'of Defense regulations. The Charter provided that the advisoryfunction of the Commission was to be completed within 90 days.
The Commission was tasked to examine the rules of engagement in force and the security measures in place at the time of the attack. The Commission was further charged to assess the adequacy of the sec.urity measures established subsequent to the explosion and to report findings of facts, opinions, and recommendations as to any changes or future actions.
The Charter specified that the Commission was to be granted access to all information pertinent to its inquiry and authorized the Commission to visit such places as it deemed necessary to accomplish its objective.
The secretary of Defense directed the Commission to interpret its Charter in the broadest possible manner and tasked the Department of Defense, including the Services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Agencies, to provide such overall support and assistance as the Commission might require. B. Members.
The Commission was composed of the following five members:
ADMIRAL ROBERT L. J. LONG, U.S. NAVY (Ret)
Admiral Long retired as the Commander in Chief Pacific in July 1983, after 40 years of commissioned service which included combat duty in World War II and the Vietnam conflict. He has commanded the USS Sea Leopard: USS Patrick Henry: USS Casimir Pulaski: the Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet: Submarines, Allied Command: and Submarine Force, Western Atlantic Area. Admiral Long ha~ served as Executive Assistant and Naval Aide to the Un'd'er Secretary of the Navy: Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Submarine Warfare): and Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
HONORABLE ROBERT J. MURRAY
Mr. Murray is on the faculty at Harvard University. He is a former Under Secretary of the Navy and former DeputyAssistant Secretary of Defense (International security Affairs) with responsibilities for U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Mr. Murray has served in various positions in the Defense and State Departments since 1961.
LIE~rENANT GENERAL JOSEPH T. PALASTRA, JR., U.S. ARMY
Lieutenant General Palastra is currently the Deputy Commander in Chief, and Chief of Staff, United States Pacific Command. The Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Command is responsible to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense, through the Joint ChiefS of Staff, and is the U.S. military representative for collective defense arrangements in the Pacific Theater. Lieutenant General 'Palastra's 29 years of commissioned service include multiple combat tours in Vietnam, among them duty as an Infantry Battalion Commander.
During the past eiqht years, Lieutenant General Palastra has commanded an ai~ assault infantry brigade and a mechanized infantry division-:--fie:-has served as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
LIEUTENANT G~NERAL LAWRENCE F. SNOWDEN, U.S. MARINE CORPS (Ret)
Lieutenant General Snowden retired as Chief of Staff, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, in May 1979, after 37 years of active service which included combat duty in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Lieutenant General Snowden served as a regimental commander in Vietnam; Director of the Marine Corps Development Center; Chief of Staff, U.S. Forces, Japan; and Operations Deputy of the Marine Corps with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon his retirement, Lieutenant General Snowden joined Hughes Aircraft International Service Company in Tokyo where he is currently Vice p.r~sident, Far East Area.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL EUGENE F. TIGHE, JR., USAF (Ret)
Lieutenant General Tighe retired from the Air Force and as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency on 1 September 1981 after 39 years of Active and Reserve USAF and
U.S. Army duty, which included service in the Southwest pacific, Korea and Vietnam. Lieu~enant General Tighe served as Director, Defense Intelligence Agency for 4 years and as Deputy Director and Acting Director for 2 years. He also held the senior intelligence position at Headquarters, United States Air Force; strategic Air Command; the U.S. Pacific Command; and Headquarters, Pacific Air Force.
A complete' biography of each Commission Member is
provided in Annex A.
The Commission convened on 7 November 1983 in
Washington, D.C., and developed its plan for conducting the
inquiry. Liaison was established by tne Chairman with key
members of Congress to ascertain any particular areas of
interest that they considered useful for the Commission to
The Commission assembled a staff of experts to advise the Commission in the various technical areas that would be encountered. Experts in the fields of intelligence, planning, operations, special warfare, terrorism, command relations, medicine, and international law were assigned as full time staff assistants. Liaison was also established with non-DOD governmental agencies which were involved in, or had special knowledge of, the events leading up to and following the 23 October 1983 terrorist attack.
The substantive information to be gathered necessarily involved highly classified matters of national security concern. Because these matters could not reasonably be segregated into separate classified categories, all witnesses were interviewed in closed session. ,principal witnesses with direct knowledge of the circumstances leading to the formulation of the Multinational Force, the development or execution of the mission of the USMNF, or the events of the October attack and its aftermath, were interviewed by the full Commission. Collateral witnesses were interviewed by individual Commission members accompanied by appropriate staff experts.
The Commission and staff assistants were authorized access to all levels of classified information.
The Commission visited USCINCEUR Headquarters in Stuttgart: CINCUSNAVEUR Headquarters in London: COMSIXTHFLT in USS PUGET SOUND at Gaeta, Italy: CTF 61 in USS AUSTIN offshore Lebanon: and CTF 62 ashore in Beirut. Commission members and staff also visited Tel Aviv, Israel: Rota, Spain: Akrotiri, Cyprus: and Wiesbaden, Germany. During these visits, the Commission received command presentations and technical briefings, interviewed witnesses and acquired written documentation of the events leading up to and following the 23 October 1983 attack.
The Commission arrived
in Beirut oefore the rotation of
the 24th MAU
of Beirut International Airport • •
and inspected the rubble of the BLT Headquarters building.
Eyewitnesses to the explosion were interviewed in depth.
The Commission also met with Ambassador Bartholomew and,
members of the U.S. Embassy staff, the Commanding General of
the Lebane~e Armed Forces~ and ~he French, Italian and
British MNF Commanders.
The Commission approach to the inquiry was to avoid reaching any preliminary conclusions until the fact finding portion of the mission was completed. The Commission recognized, however, that some of its preliminary findings were time-sensitive, and, upon the Commission's return from Beirut, provided the Secretary of Defense with a memorandum regarding existing security procedures for the USMNF .
A second memorandum was forwarded to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommending that the F'ederal Bureau of Investigation's comprehensive briefing on the nature of the explosive devices used in the terrorist attacks on the United States Embassy Beirut and the BLT ~eadquarters building be received by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the earliest opportunity.
All written documentation, including planning documents, operational orders, witness interview summaries, Congressional hearings, media reports, technical analyses and after action reports, was assembled and reviewed by the Commission members or staff assistants. All principals involved in the planning and execution of the USMNF mission, and in the events that preceded and followed the explosion, were interviewed.
The analytical work of the Commission was accomplished by first reviewing all available material in each area of inquiry and then compiling a list of principal findings related to that area. Following discussion of the principal findings, conclusions and recommendations were postulated by individual Commission members and discussed in detail. Using this deliberative process, the Commission reached agreement on each conclusion and recommendation. BACKGROUND
I. LEBANON OVERVIEW
A. Geography and History.
Lebanon, a country approximately the size of Connecticut, contains three million people, seventeen officially recognized religious sects, two foreign armies of occupation, four national contingents of a multinational force, seven national contributors to a United Nations peace-keeping force, and some two dozen extralegal militias. Over 100,000 people have been killed in hostilities in Lebanon over the past eight years, including the 241 U.S. military personnel that died as a result of the terrorist attack on 23 October 1983. It is a country b~.set with virtually every unresolved dispute afflicting the peoples of the Middle East. Lebanon has become a battleground where armed Lebanese factions simultaneously manipulate and are manipulated by the foreign forces surrounding them. If Syrians and Iraqis wish to kill one another, they do so in Lebanon. If Israelis and Palestinians wish to fight over the land they both claim, they do so in Lebanon. If terrorists of any political persuasion wish to kill and maim American citizens, it is convenient for them to do so in Lebanon. In a country where criminals involved in indiscriminate killing, armed robbery, extortion, and kidnapping issue political manifestos and hold press conferences, there has been no shortage of indigenous surrogates willing to do the bidding of foreign governments seeking to exploit the opportunities presented by anarchy in Lebanon.
Yet a picture of Lebanon painted in these grim colors alone would not be complete. Lebanese of all religions have emigrated to countries as widely separated as the United States, Brazil, Australia, and the Ivory Coast, where they have enriched the arts, sciences, and Aconomies of their adopted nations. Lebanon has, notwithstanding the events of the past eight years, kept alive the principle and practiceof academic freedom in such institutions as American ,"
university Beirut and Saint Joseph University. No one who visits Lebanon can resist admiring the dignity and resiliency of the Lebanese people and their determination to survive.
There is no sense of national identity that unites all Lebanese or even a majority of the citizenry. What it means to be Lebanese is often interpreted in radically different ways by, for instance, a Sunni Muslim living in Tripoli, a Maronite Christian from Brummana, a Greek Orthodox Christian from Beirut, a Druze from Kafr Nabrakh, or a Shiite Muslim from Nabatiyah. This is because the Lebanon of antiquity was Mount Lebanon, the highland chain running north-south through the center of the country, where Maronite Catholicism had over 1,000 years of relative isolation to develop its own national identity. In 1920, France, which acquired part of the Levant from the defeated Ottoman Empire, added rion-Maronite territory to Moun~ Lebanon in order to create Greater Lebanon, a new state in which Maronites comprised but 30 percent of the population rather than the 70 percent of Mount Lebanon that they had
B. Religious and political Factions.
Most politically-conscious non-Maronites, especially Sunni Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians, were opposed to integration into the new state. The idea of being ruled by Maronites was particularly objectionable to the Sunni Muslims who had been preeminent in the Ottoman Empire; hence their attraction to the concept of a unified Greater Syria. When the French were prepared to leave Lebanon, however, the Maronite and Sunni elites were ready to strike a deal. The unwritten "National Pact" of 1943 stipulated that the Maronites would refrain from invoking Western intervention, the Sunnis would refrain from seeking unification with Syria, and Lebanon's political business would be premised on the allocation of governmental positions and parliamentary seats on the basis of the sectarian balance reflected in the 1932 census, i.e. confessionalism. The National Pact set forth what Lebanon was not. It was not an extension of Europe, and it was not part of a pan-Arab state. It did not
establish in positive terms what Lebanon was. As a Lebanese journalist once put it, "Two negations do-nQt make a
Much has been made of the outward manifestations of Lebanese confessionalism. The President of the Republic and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief are always Maronites; the Prime Minister must be a Sunni; the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies will be a Shiite; and for every five nonChristian
deputies there must be six Christians. This allocation reflects the recognition of the founders of independent Lebanon that sectarian cooperation was the key to the country's survival. Lebanese confessionalism was the mechanism which they hoped would facilitate compromise. ~
The central government rested not only on
confessionalism, but on localism as well. political power
= in Lebanon traditionally resides in the handS 'of local powerbrokers, i.e. Maronite populists, Druze and Shiite feudalists, and Sunni urban bosses. These local leaders draw their political power from grass-roots organizations based on sectarian and clan relationships. Local leaders periodically have come together in Beirut to elect presidents and form governments, but none of them are prepared to allow the central government to penetrate their constituencies unless it is to deliver a service for which they have arranged and for which they will take credit. They guard their turf jealously against unwanted encroachments by the central government, whether it is in the form of the civilian bureaucracy or the military. If one of their Maronite number becomes President, the rest tend to coalesce in order to limit his power. The basic institutions of go~ernment, i.e the army, ~he judiciary and the bureaucracy, are deliberately kept weak in order to confirm the government's dependency. If the local chiefs argue among themselves, especially over issues that tend to pit the major sects against one other, the central government simply stops functioning.
This, in essence, is exactly what has happened. Lebanon had survived earlier crises, but the Arab-Israeli confrontation proved to be a fatal overload for this fragile
, system. Over 100,000 Palestinian refugees fled to Lebanon
in 1948, and over time an armed "state within a state" grew
on Lebanese territory, a process accelerated by the arrival
from Jordan in 1971 of several thousand fighters and the
leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The PLO fired and raided across the border into Israel, and
shored up its position in Lebanon by forming alliances with
dissident Lebanese groups which hoped to harness Palestinian
firepower to ~he cause of social revolution. This in turn
encouraged the more conservative elements of Lebanese
society, mainly from the Maronite community, to organize
militarily. From 1968 on, the PLO-Israeli confrontation in
southern Lebanon caused the progressive polarization of the
-Lebanese along confessional lines, with Maronite Christians in particular opposing the PLO presence and Muslims in general supporting it. It also caused many of the local
; power brokers to fall back onto their own resources and to seek support from foreign sources. The central government, deprived of its lifeblood, was left debilitated. In the civil warfare of 1975-1976 it ceased to exist in all but name.
Syria had historically supported the PLO and its Lebanese allies but in June 1976, fearing that a revolutionary regime in Beirut would drag it into a war with Israel, intervened on behalf of the Maronite militias. A stalemate was created, and from 1976 until June 1982 Lebanon lay crippled under the weight of de facto partition and partial occupation by Syria. The basic issues underlying the Lebanese civil war were left unresolved.
On 6 June 1982, Israeli forces launched a massive operation against Palestinian forces based in southern Lebanon, an invasion which brought the Israel Defense Forces to the outskirts of Beirut within three days. The three considerations that prompted Israel's assault were (1) putting an end to the military capabilities and political independence of the PLO; (2) putting Israeli population centers in Galilee beyond the threat of hostile actions emanating from Lebanon; and (3) breaki'ng the internal Lebanese political paralysis in a manner that would facilitate official relations between Israel and Lebanon.
429-987 0 -84 -3 -
Notwithstanding the evacuation of PLO and Syrian forces from Beirut -an event made possible by American diplomacy backed by U.S. Marines acting as part of a Multinational Force -Lebanon slipped back into chaos and anarchy. No sooner had the PLO departed Beirut than the new Lebanese President-Elect, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated. That tragedy was followed by the massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians, Lebanese as well as Palestinians, by Christian militia elements in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps1 an atrocity whichi along with similar acts perpetrated by all sides, has come to symbolize the nature of sectarian hatred in Lebanon. This bloodletting, as well as the outbreak of fighting between Druze and Maronite militias in the mountainous Shuf area overlooking Beirut, demonstrated that the rer:nnr:il iilJinn long hoped for by most ordinary Lebanese was not at hand. Exacerbating the political ills that have afflicted Lebanon over the past several yearq, a new element of instability and violence has been added: the ability of Khomeini's Iran to mobilize a small, but violently extremist portion of the Lebanese Shiite community against the government and the LAF.
In summary, the Government of Lebanon is the creature of confessionalism and localism. Without consensus, any controversial stand taken by the central government will be labeled as sectarian favoritism by those who oppose it.
June 1982 -October 1983.
The 6 June 1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanese territory reached the outskirts of Beirut within three days, and by 14 June the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had linked up with the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) militia in East Beirut. The 32d U.S. Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) deployed to waters off Lebanon and on 23 June 1982 conducted the successful evacuation of U.S. citizens from the port city of Juniyah. On 28 June, the LF began moving up the Beirut-Damascus Highway past Jumhur, and on 29 June entered Alayh, killing twelve Druze militiamen. On 30 June, two key "firsts" occurred: the LF entered the Shuf for the fi rs t time, and the first Druze-LF artillery duel occurred.
On 2 July 1982, the IDF instituted a military blockade of Beirut, causing intense diplomatic activity aimed at averting an all-out battle for the capital. Ambassador Habib's efforts were successful and some 15,000 armed personnel (Palestinians and Syrians) were evacuated from Beirut under the auspices of a Multinational Force (MNF) consisting of French and Italian contingents and the 32nd HAU. All MNF forces were withdrawn by 10 September 1982.
The assassination of President-Elect Bashir Gemayel on 14 September 1982, followed by IDF occupation of West Beirut and the massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabra and Shatila camps on 16-18 September 1982, resulted in the agreement of France, Italy and the United States to reconstitute the MNF. On 26 September, the French and Italian contingents reentered Beirut, and on 29 September, the 32d MAU began landing at the Port of Beirut.
The 1 ,200-man Harine contingent occupied positions in the vicinity of Beirut International Airport (BIA) as an interpositional force between the IDF and populated areas of Beirut.
On 3 November 1982, the 24th MAU replaced the 32d MAU. By 15 November, a DoD team had completed a survey of Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) capabilities and requirements. Marine Hobile Training Teams (MTT) from the USMNF began conducting individual and small unit training for the LAF at BIA. Training of a LAF rapid-reaction force by the USHNF began during the week of 21 December. The last significant event of 1982 was the beginning of negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on 28 December calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
On 5 January 1983; the IDF began conducting patrol operations (including reconnaissance by fire) south of Marine positions along the Old Sidon Road. Stray IDF rounds landed on USMNF positions, and there were at least five IDF attempts to penetrate l1arine positions during the month. On 2 February, a USMC officer felt obliged to draw his pistol in order to stop an IDF penetration. On 20 January 1983, the Office of l1ilitary Cooperation, which had been established in late 1982, was formally opened. On 15 February, the 24th MAU was relieved by the 22d MAU. From 20-25 February, the USMNF, at the request of the Government of Lebanon, conducted emergency relief operations in the Lebanon Mountains in the wake of a mid-winter blizzard and sub-zero temperatures. On 16 March, five Marines were slightly wounded by a terrorist hand grenade in the southern Beirut suburb of Ouzai. Incidents involving IDF elements and USMNF p~trols were recorded during the month of March and April as USMNF patrolling was expanded in support of LAF dep loyrnents •
On 18 April 1983, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was destroyed by a massive explosion which took the lives of 17
U.S. citizens and over 40 others. The bomb was delivered by a pickup truck and detonated. U.S. Embassy functions were relocated to the British Embassy and to the Duraffourd Building. The USMNF established a detachment to provide security for both locations.
Fighting between Christian LF and Druze militias in the Shuf spilled over into Beirut in the form of artillery shelling between 5 and 8 May. On 17 May 1983, Israel and the Government of Lebanon signed an agreement calling for the withdrawal of the ·IDF and the institution of special security measures for southern Lebanon. Israel, however, predicated its own withdrawal on the simultaneous withdrawal of Syrian and Palestine Liberacaon Organization (PLO) forces from Lebanon, parties which had'not been included in the negotiations. Syria refused to initiate withdrawal of its
30 May 1983,
the 24th MAU
the 22nd MAU.
25 June, USMNF personnel conducted combined patrols with LAF for the first time. On 14 July, a LAF patrol was
ambushed by Druze militia elements, and from 15 to 17 July, the LAF engaged the Shia Amal militia in Beirut over a
, :](1 dispute involving the eviction of Shiite squatters from a schoolhouse. At the same time, fighting in the Shuf between the LAF and Druze militia escalated sharply. On 22 July, BIA was shelled with Druze mortar and artillery fire, wounding three U.S. Marines and causing the temporary closing of the airport.
In July 1983, President Amin Gemayel traveled to Washington and obtained a promise of expedited delivery of military equipment to the LAF. On 23 July, Walid Jamblatt, leader of the predominantly Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) , announced the formation of a Syrian-backed "National Salvation Front" opposed to the 17 May lsraelLebanon
In anticipation of an IDF withdrawal from the Alayh and
.' Shuf districts, fighting between the Druze and LF, and between the Druze and LAF, intens ified during the month of August. Druze artillery closed the BIA between 10 and 16 August, and the Druze made explicit their opposition to LAF deployment in the Shuf. The LAF also clashed with the Amal militia in Beirut's western and southern suburbs.
As the security situation deteriorated, USMNF positions at BIA were subjected to increased fire. On 10 and 11 August, an estimated thirty-five rounds of mortar and rocket fire landed on USMNF positions, wounding one Marine. On 28 August 1983, the USMNF returned fire for the first time. On the following day, USMNF artillery silenced a Druze battery after two Marines had been killed in a mortar attack. On 31 August, the LAF swept through the Shia neighborhood of West Beirut, establishing temporary control.over the area.
On 4 September 1983, the IDF withdrew from the Alayh and Shuf Districts, falling back to the Awwali River. The LAF was not prepared to fill the void, moving instead to occupy the key junction at Khaldah, south of BIA. On 4 September, BIA was again shelled, killing two Marines and wounding two others. As the LAF moved slowly eastward into the foothills of the Shuf, accounts of massacres, conducted by Christians and Druze alike, began to be reported.
On 5 September, a Druze force, reportedly reinforced by PLO elements, routed the Christian LF militia at Bhamdun and all but eliminated the LF as a military factor in the Alayh District. This defeat obliged the LAF to occupy Suq-AlGharb
to avoid conceding all of the high ground overlooking BIA to the Druze. USMNF positions were subjected to constant indirect fire attacks; consequently, counterbattery
fire based on target acquisition radar
31 data was employed. F-14 tactical airborne reconnaissance/ DoD (TARPS) missions were conducted for the. first time on 7 September. On 8' September. naval gunfire from offshore des troyers was employed for the fi rst time in defense of the USMNF.
On 12 September 1983. the U.S. National Command Authorities (NCA) determined that the successful defense of Suq-Al-Gharb was essential to the safety of the USMNF. On 14 September. an emergency ammunition resupply to the LAF was instituted. On 19 September. Navy destroyers provided gunfire support of the LAF defenders at Suq-AlGharb.
The battleship USS NEW JERSEY arrived in Lebanese waters on 25 September. A ceasefire was instituted that same day and Beirut International Airport reopened five days later.
On 1 October 1983. the LAF began to receive additional shipments of APC's. M-48 tanks. and howitzers from the U.S. training of LAF recruits and units by the USMNF resumed. On that date. Walid Jumblatt announced a separate governmental administration for the Shuf and called for the mass defection of all Druze elements from the LAF. Nevertheless. on 14 October the leaders of Lebanon's key factions agreed to conduct reconciliation talks in Geneva. Switzerland.
Although the ceasefire officially held into mid-October. factional clashes intensified and sniper attacks on MNF contingents became commonplace. On 19 October 1983. four Marines were wounded when a USMNF convoy was attacked by. a remotely detonated car bomb parked along the convoy route.
B. 23 October 1983.
At approximately 0622 on Sunday. 23 October 1983. the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Headquarters building in the Harine Amphibious Unit (MAU) compound at Beirut International Airport was destroyed by a terrorist bomb. This catastrophic attack took !We lives of 241 U.S. military personnel and wounded over 100 i:)thers. The bombing was carried out by a lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes Benz stakebed truck that accelerated through the public parking lot south of the BLT Headquarters building. crashed thr9Ugh a barbed wire and concertina fence. and penetrated into the central lobby of the building. where it exploded. The truck drove over the barbed and concertina wire obstacle. passed between two'Marine guard posts without being engaged by fire. entered an open gate. passed around
32 one sewer pipe barrier and between two others, flattened the Sergeant of the Guard's sandbagged booth at the building's entrance, penetrated the lobby of the building and detonated while the majority of the occupants slept. The force of the explosion ripped the building from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself. Almost all the occupants were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage. Immediate efforts were undertaken to reestablish security, to extricate .the dead and wounded from the building's rubble, and to institute a mass casualty handling and evacuation operation.
Almost simultaneously with the attack on the U.S. Marine compound, a similar truck bomb exploded at the French MNF headquarters.
C. 24 October -30 November 1983
As cleanup and rescue operations continued at the bombing site in the ensuing days, the USMNF came under sporadic sniper fire. Deployment of forces to replace those lost began on the day of the bombing. By the day following, replacement personnel had been airlifted into Beirut. On 28 October, The Secretary of Defense approved the assignment of an additional Marine rifle company to the USMNF. That augmenting force was airlifted into Lebanon and deployed at BIA by the end of October.
On 4 November 1983, the Israeli Military Governor's Headquarters in Tyre was destroyed by a suicide driver in a small truck loaded with explosives. There were 46 fatalities. The Israeli Air Force conducted retaliatory strikes later that day against Palestinian positions east of Beirut.
On 8 November 1983, the BLT Company located at the Lebanese Scientific and Technical University was withdrawn to BIA, and subsequently redeployed aboard ship as the USMNF ready reserve.
Ambassador Rumsfeld, appointed by the President on 3 November 1983 to replace Ambassador McFarlane as The President's Special Envoy to the Middle East, began his first Middle East mission on 12 November.
On 16 November 1983, the Israelis conducted additional retaliatory air strikes, hitting a terrorist training camp in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The next day, the French conducted similar strikes against another Islamic Amal camp in the vicinity of the northern Bekaa Valley town of tlaalbak.
Throughout the 23 October to 30 November period, USMNF positions at BlA were the target of frequent sniper attacks, and occasional, but persistent, artillery, rocket, and mortar fire. On 16 November, four 122mm rockets impacted at BlA. The MAU received small arms fire several times on 19 November, the date the turnover by the 24th MAU to the 22nd MAU was completed.
Persistent and occasionally heavy fighting between the LAF and Shia militias in the southern suburbs of Beirut cont inued through Novemb'er. As the month ended, the mountainous Shuf continued to be the scene of frequent artillery and mortar exchanges between the LAF and Druze forces.
PART ONE -THE MILITARY MISSION
I. HISS ION DEVELOPHENT
A. Principal Findings.
Following the Sabra and Shatila massacres, a PresliEntial decision was made that the United States would participate in a Multinational Force (MNF) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in carrying out its responsibilities in the Beirut area. Ambassador Habib, the President's Special Envoy to the Middle East, was charged with pursuing the diplomatic arrangements necessary for the insertion of U.S. forces into Beirut. His efforts culminated in an Exchange of Diplomatic Notes on 25 September 1982 between the United States and the Government of Lebanon which formed the basis for U.S. participation in the MNF. The national decision having been made, the Secretary of Defense tasked the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to develop the mission statement and to issue the appropriate Alert Order to the Commander in Chief United States European Command (USCINCEUR). Commission discussions with the principals involved disclosed that the mission statement was carefully drafted in coordination with USCINCEUR to ensure that it remained within the limits of national political guidance.
The Joint Operational Planning System (JOPS) Volume IV (Crisis Action System) provides guidance for the conduct of joint planning and execution concerning the use of military forces during emergency or time-sensitive situations.
The mission statement provided to USCINCEUR by the JCS Alert Order of 23 September 1983 read as follows:
liTo establish an environment which will permit the Lebanese Armed Forces to carry out their responsibilities in the Beirut area. When directed, USCINCEUR will introduce
U.S. forces as part of a multinational force presence in the Beirut area to occupy and secure positions along a designated section of the line from south of the Beirut International Airport to a position in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace; be prepared to protect U.S. forces; and, on order, conduct ~etrograde operations as required."
The wording " ••• occupy and secure positions along ••• the
line •.• " was incorporated into the mission st~tement by the JCS on the recommendation of USCINCEUR to avoid any inference that the USMNF would be responsible for the security of any given area. Additional mission-related guidance provided in the JCS Alert Order included the direction that:
The USMNF would not be engaged in combat.
Peacetime rules of engagement would apply (i.e. use of force is authorized only in self-defense or in defense of collocated LAF elements operating with the USMNF.)
USCINCEUR would be prepared to extract U.S. forces in Lebanon if required by hostile action.
USCINCEUR repromulgated the mission statement, essentially unchanged, to Commander United States Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) on 24 September 1982. That OPREP-1 message designated CTF 61 (Commander Amphibious Task Force) as Commander, U.S. forces Lebanon and provided the following concept of operations:
" ••• land U.S. Marine Landing Force in Port of Beirut
and/or vicinity of Beirut Airport. U.S. forces will
move to occupy positions along an assigned section of
a line extending from south of Beirut Airport to
vicinity of Presidential Palace. Provide security
posts at intersections of assigned section of line and
major avenues of approach into city of Beirut from
south/southeast to deny passage of hostile armed
elements in order to provide an environment which will
permit LAF to carry out their responsibilities in city
of Beirut. Commander U.S. Forces will establish and
maintain continuous coordination with other MNF units,
EUCOM liaison team and LAF. Commander U.S. Forces will
provide air/naval gunfire support as required."
(Emphasis added) f
The USCINCEUR concept of operations also tasked CTF 61 to conduct combined defensive operations with other MNF contjngents and the LAF and to be prepared to execute retiograde or withdrawal operations.
The USCINCEUR OPREP-1 tasked CINCUSNAVEUR, when directed, to:
Employ Navy/Marine forces to land at Beirut.
Provide required air and naval gunfire support to forces ashore as required.
He prepared to conduct withdrawal operations if hostile actions occur.
Provide liaison teams to each member of the MNF and to the LAF.
That OPREP-1 also included tasking for other Component Commands and supporting CINC's.
On 25 September 1982, JCS modified USCINCEUR's concept of operations for CTF 61 to read " •••assist LAF to deter passage of hostile armed elements •.• " (vice "deny passage of hostile armed elements •��• ").
The original mission statement was formally mo"dified by directive on four occasions. Change One reduced the estimated number of Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops in Beirut. Change Two, issued on 6 October 1982, defined the line along which the USMNF was to occupy and secure positions. The third change (undesignated) was issued on 2 November 1982, and expanded the mission to include patrols in the East Beirut area. The "fourth change (designated Change Three), was issued on 7 May 1983 and further expanded the mission to allow the USMNF to provide external security for the u.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Although some operational details were added, the original mission statement was repromulgated unchanged down the chain of command through Alert/Execute Orders and OPREP1'
s. CINCUSNAVEUR provided position locations for the USMNF forces ashore in Beirut. Commander Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT) designated CTF 61 as On-Scene Commander and CTF 62 as Commander
U.S. Forces Ashore Lebanon and defined the chain of command. CTF 61 promulgated detailed operational procedures for amphibious shipping, boats and aircraft to facilitate shipto-
shore movement. CTF 62 provided the detailed ship-toshore
movement plan for the MAU and the concept of operations for the initial three days ashore.
USCINCEUR engaged in some mission analysis (e.g., crafting the concept of operations and working operational constraint wording with JCS) and provided detailed tasking to subordinates and to supporting CINC's. However, the mission statement and the concept of operations were passed down the chain of command with little amplification. As a result, perceptual differences as to the precise meaning and importance of the "presence" role of the USMNF existed throughout the chain of command. Similarly, the exact
responsibilities of the USt1NF commander regarding the security of Beirut International Airport were not clearly delineated in his mission tasking.
Clarification of the mission tasks and concepts of operations would not only have assisted the USMNF commanders to better understand what was required, it would also have alerted higher headquarters to the differing interpretations of the mission at intermediate levels of command. The absence of specificity in mission definition below the USCINCEUR level concealed differences of interpretation of the mission and tasking assigned to the USMNF.
The commission's inquiry clearly established that perceptions of the basic mission varied at different levels of command. The 11AU commanders, on the ground in Beirut, interpreted their "presence" mission to require the USMNF to be visible but not to appear to be threatening to the populace. This concern was a factor in most decisions made by the 11AU Commanders in the employment and disposition of their forces. The MAU Commander regularly assessed the effect of contemplated security actions on the 'presence' mission.
Another area in which perceptions varied was the importance of Beirut International Airport (BIA) to the USMNF mission and whether the USMNF had any responsibility to ensure the operation of the airport. While all echelons of the military chain of command understood that the security of BIA was not a part of the mission, perceptions of the USI1NF's implicit responsibility for airport operations varied widely. The U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, and others in the State Department, saw an operational airport as an important symbolic and practical demonstration of Lebanese sovereignty. On television on 27 October 1983, the President stated: "Our Marines are not just sitting in an airport. Part of their task is to guard that airport. Because of their presence the airport remained operational." The other HNF commanders asserted to the .commission that, while BIA is not specifically the responsibLlity of anyone MNF contingent, an operational airport is important to the viabiity of the MNF concept. The MAU Commanders interviewed by the Commission all believed they had some responsibility for ensuring an ope~ airport as an implicit part of their mission.
The Commission concludes that the "presence" mission was not interpreted in the same manner by all levels of the chain of command and that perceptual differences regarding that mission, including the responsibility of the USMNF for the security of Beirut International Airport, should have been recognized and corrected by the chain of command •
TtiE CHANGING ENVIRONMENT
The mission of the USMNF was implicitly characterized as a peace-keeping operation, although "peace-keeping" was not explicit in the mission statement. In September 1982, the President's public statement, his letter to the United Nations' Secretary General and his report to the Congress, all conveyed a strong impression of the peace-keeping nature of the operation. The subject lines of the JCS Alert and Execute Orders read, "U.S. Force participation in Lebanon Multinational Force (MNF) Peacekeeping Operations." (Emphasis added) Alert and Execute Orders were carefully worded to emphasize that the USMNF would have a non-combatant role. Operational constraint sections included guidance to be prepared to withdraw if required by hostile action., This withdrawal guidance was repeated in CINCEUR's OPREP-1.
A condition precedent to the insertion of U.S. forces into Beirut was that the Government of Lebanon and the LAF would ensure the protection of the MNF, including the securing of assurances from armed factions to refrain from hostilities and not to interfere with MNF activities. Ambassador Habib received confirmation from the Government of Lebanon that these arrangements had been made. These assurances were included by the Government of Lebanon in its exchange of notes with the United States.
It was contemplated from the outset that the USMNF would operate in a relatively benign environment. Syrian forces were not considered a significant threat to the MNF. The major threats were thought to be unexploded ordnance and possible sniper and small unit attacks from PLO and Leftist militias. It was anticipated that the USMNF would be perceived by the various factions as evenhanded and neutral and that this perception would hold through the expected 60 day duration of the operation.
The environment into which the USMNF actually deployed in September 1982, while not necessarily benign was, for the most part, not hostile. The Marines were warmly welcomed and seemed genuinely to be appreciated by the majority of Lebanese.
By mid-t1arch 1983, the friendly environment began to change as evidenced by a grenade thrown at a USMNF patrol in 16 March, wounding five Marines. Italian and French MNF contingents were the victims of similar attacks.
The destruction of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on 18 April, was indicative of the extent of the deterioration of the political/military situation in Lebanon bi the spring of 1983. That tragic event also signaled the magnitude of" the terrorist threat to the U.S. presence. A light truck detonated, killing over 60 people (including 17 Americans) and destroying a sizable portion of the building. An FBI
investigation into the explosion later revealed that the bomb was a "gas enhanced" device capable of vastly more destructive force than a comparable conventional explosive. Although the technique of gas-enhanced bombs had been employed by Irish Republican Army terrorists in Northern
Ireland and, on at least two occasions, in Lebanon, the magnitude of the explosive force of the device used in the Embassy bombing was, in the opinion of FBI explosive experts, unprecedented.
During August, rocket, artillery and mortar fire began impacting at tlIA. On 28 August 1983, the Marines returned fire for the first time. Following the deaths of two Marines in a mortar attack the following day, the USMNF responded with artillery fire. On 31 August, Marine patrols were terminated in the face of the sniper, RPG and artillery threats.
Fighting between the LAF and the Druze increased sharply with the withdrawal of the IDF from the Alayh and Shuf Districts on 4 September 1983. Two more Marines were killed by mortar or artillery rounds at BIA on 6 September 1983. tly 11 September, the battle for Sug-AI-Gharb was raging. The USMNF, under frequent attack, responded with counterbattery
fire and F-14 tactical air reconnaissance pod TARPS missions were commenced over Lebanon.
On 16 September 1983, U.S. Naval gunfire support was employed in response to shelling of the U.S. Ambassador's residence and USMNF positions at BIA. On 19 September, following a National Command Authority (NCA) decision, Naval gunfire support was employed to support the"LAF fighting at Suq-AI-Gharb. On 20 September, the F-14 TARPS aircraft were fired on by SA-7 ~issiles.
During the period 14-16 October 1983, two Marines were killed on the BIA perimeter in separate sniper incidents.
~y the end of September 1983, the situation in Lebanon had changed to the extent that not one of the initial conditions upon which the mission statement was premised was still valid. The enviroment clearly was hostile. The assurances the Government of Lebanon had obtained from the various factions were obviously no longer operative as attacks on the USMNF came primarily from extralegal militias. Although US~lliF actions could properly be classified as self-defense and not "engaging in combat", the environment could no longer be characterized as peaceful. The image of
40 the USMNF, in the eyes of the factional militias, had become pro-Israel, pro-Phalange, and anti-Muslim. After the USMNF engaged in direct fire support of the LAF, a significant portion of the Lebanese populace no longer considered the USMNF a neutral force.
The inability of the Government of Lebanon to develop a political consensus, and the resultant outbreak of hostilities between the LAF and armed militias supported by Syria, effectively precluded the possibility of a successful peacekeeping
mission. It is abundantly clear that by late summer 1983, the environment in Lebanon changed to the extent that the conditions upon which the USMNF mission was initially premised no longer existed. The Commission believes that appropriate guidance and modification of tasking should have been provided to the USMNF to enable it to cope effectively with the increasingly hostile environment. The Commission could find no evidence that such guidance was, in fact, provided.
THE EXPANDING MILITARY ROLE
The "presence" mission assigned to the USMNF contemplated that the contending factions in Lebanon would perceive the USMNF as a neutral force, even handed in its dealings with the confessional groups that comprise Lebanese society. The mission statement tasked the USMNF to "establish an environment which will permit the Lebanese Armed Forces to carry out their responsibilities in the Beirut area." When hostilities erupted between the LAF and Shiite and Druze militias, USMNF efforts to support the LAF were perceived to be both proPhalangist
USHNF support to the LAF increased substantially following their arrival in September 1982. The first direct military support to the LAF was in the form of training which the USt1NF began to provide in November 1982.
In August and September 1983, the U.S. resupplied the LAF with ammunition. The LAF were engaged in intense fighting against the Druze and various Syrian surrogates. The ammunition came from MAU, CONUS and USCINCEUR stocks and was delivered by Military Sealift Command, Mobile Logistic Support Force (CTF 63), and CTF 61 ships.
On 19 September 1983, naval gunfire was employed in direct support of the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb.
Following the U.S. action in providing Naval gunfire support for the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb, hostile acts against the USMNF increased and the Marines began taking significantly more casualties. A direct cause and effect linkage between Suq-Al-Gharb and the terrorist bombing on 23 October 1983, cannot be determined. The views of the senior .civilian and military officials interviewed by the Commission varied widely on this issue. Some believe that it was not a consequence of our relationship with any fact~n; that regardless of its actions, the USMNF would still 'have been targeted by terrorists. Others believe that certain factions wanted to force the MNF out of Lebanon and that the bombing of the BLT Headquarters building was the tactic of choice to produce that end. The preValent view within the USCINCEUR chain of command, however, is that there was some linkage between the two events. Whether or not there was a direct connection between Suq-AlGharb
and the increase in terrorist attacks on the USMNF, the public statements of factional leaders confirmed that a portion of the Lebanese populace no longer considered the USMNF neutral.
The Commission believes that from the very beginning of the USMNF mission on 29 September 1982, the security of the US11NF was dependent upon the continuing validity of four basic conditions.
That the force would environment;
That the Lebanese Armed Forces security of the areas in which operate;
would provide the force was
the mission would
As the political/military situation evolved, three factors were impacting adversely upon those conditions. First, although the mission required that the USMNF be perceived as neutral by the confessional factions, the tasks assigned to the USMNF gradually evolved to include active support of the LAF. A second factor was the deep-seated hostility of Iran and Syria toward the United States combined with the capability to further their own political interests by sponsoring attacks on the USMNF. And finally, the progress of diplomatic efforts to secure the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon faltered. The combination of these three factors served to invalidate the first two conditions and to complicate the third.
policy makers recognized that the conditions upon which the mission of the USMNF was premised were tenuous and that the decision to deploy the USMNF into Beirut involved considerable risk. The military mission was directed in concert with extensive diplomatic initiatives designed to shore up the Government of Lebanon and establish a climate for political reconciliation. At the same time that the political/military conditions in Lebanon deteriorated, the
military role expanded in the form of increased US11NF training and logistic support for the LAF and in the form of changes to the rules of engagement of the USMNF to permit active support of LAF units engaged in combat with factional forces. That expanded role was directed in an effort to adjust to the changing situation and to contiue to move toward realization of U.S. policy objectives in Lebanon. On the diplomatic front, achieving the withdrawal of foreign troops proved to be more difficult than had been anticipated. The overall result was the continued erosion of the security of the USMNF.
429-987 0 -84 -4 =
i iii "
The Cemmissien cencludes that U.S. decisiens regarding Lebanen taken ever the past fifteen menths have been to. a large degree characterized by an emphasis en military eptiens and the expansien ef the U.S. military rele, netwithstanding the fact that the cenditiens upen which the security ef the USt1NF were based centinued to. deterierate as pregress teward a diplematic selutien slewed. The Cemmissien further cencludes that these decisiens may have been taken witheut clear recegnitien that these initial cenditiens had dramatically changed and that the expansien ef eur military invelvement in Lebanen greatly increased the risk to., and adversely impacted upen the security ef, the USMNF. The Cemmissien therefere cencludes that there is an urgent need fer reassessment ef alternative means to. achieve U.S. ebjectives in Lebanen and at the same time reduce the risk to. the USMNF.
The Cemmissien recemmends that the Secretary ef Defense centinue to. urge that the Natienal Security Ceuncil undertake a reexaminatien ef alternative means ef achieving U.S. ebjectives in Lebano.n, to. include a cemprehensive assessment ef the military security eptiens being develeped by the chain ef cemmand and a mere vigereus and demanding appreach to. pursuing diplematic alternatives.
PART TWO -RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
"Rules ef Engagement: Directives issued by cempetent autherity which delineate the circumstances and limitatiens under which United States ferces will initiate and/er centinue cembat engagement with ether ferces enceuntered."
-JCS Pub 1
I. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT
A. Principal Findings.
T~e basic Rules ef Engagement (ROE) fer USMNF ferces in Beirut have been in effect since the secend USMNF insertien en 29 September 1982. The ROE were premulgated en 24 September 1982 by USCINCEUR, the respensible autherity fer centingency eperatiens in the Eastern Hediterranean. They are censistent with the guidance previded in the JCS Alert Order ef 23 September 1983. The ROE develeped by USCINCEUR are derived frem U.S. Eurepean Cemmand Directive 55-47A, "Peacetime Rules ef Engagement."
, , They were tailored to the Lebanon situation by the adaptation of ROE developed through the summer of 1982 for use in the evacuation of PLO elements in Beirut from 24 August to 10 September 1982. There had been extensive dialogue on ROE up and down the European Theater chain of command during July and August 1982.
JCS guidance to USCINCEUR was that USMNF forces were not to engage in combat and would use normal USEUCOM peacetime ROE. Force was to be used only when required for self-defense against a hostile threat, in response to a hostile act, or in defense of LAF elements operating with the USMNF. USCINCEUR incorporated the JCS guidance and elaborated thereon. Reprisals or punitive measures were forbidden. USMNF elements were enjoined to seek guidance from higher authority prior to using armed force for self-defense unless an emergency existed. The ROE defined "hostile act" and "hostile force," and designated the Combined Amphibious Task Force Commander (CTF 61) as the authority to declare a force hostile. "Hostile threat" was not defined. If non-LAF forces infiltrated or violated USMNF assigned areas or lines, they were to be informed they were in an unauthorized area and could not proceed. If they failed to depart, the USMNF Commander (CTF 62) was to be informed and would determine the action to be taken. The LAF had responsibility for apprehension and detention of any intruders. The USMNF was authorized to use force only if the intruder committed a hostile act. Finally, commanders were to be prepared to extract forces if necessary.
By message to subordinate commands on 28 September 1982, CINCUSNAVEUR elaborated on the ROE provided by USCINCEUR and directed that further ROE development for U.S. forces ashore be for self-defense only. Detailed ROE, consistent with command guidance, were issued by CTF 62 on 27 October 1982, and again on 12 November 1982.
Following the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on 18 April 1983, a USMNF unit was formed to provide external security for U.S. Embassy functions relocated at the Duraffourd· Building, the British Embassy, and the U.S. Ambassador's Residence at Yarze. On 1 May 1983, CTF 62 requested specific ROE to counter the vehicular and pedestrian terrorist threat to those buildings. On 7 May 1983, USCINCEUR promulgated ROE specifically for that security force which expanded the definition of a hostile act to encompass attempts by personnel or vehicles to breach barriers or roadblocks established on approaches to the Duraffourd Building, the British Embassy or the U.S. Ambassador's Residence.
Following the 4 September 1983 IDF pull-back to the Awwali River, fighting intensified in the mountainous Shuf region southeast of Beirut. Phalange and Druze militias fought for control of the territory vacated by the IDF. LAF units also
moved to gain control of the strategically important Shuf high ground, and were engaged by Druze forces in heavy fighting at Suq-Al-Gharb. When defeat of the LAF appeared imminent, the National Command Authorities (NCA) authorized the use of naval gunfire and tactical air strikes in support of the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb. Occupation of the dominant terrain in the vicinity of Suq-Al-Gharb by hostile forces would pose a danger of USMNF positions at BlA. Direct support of the LAF in those circumstances was to be considered as an act of selfdefense
authorized by the existing ROE. Early on 12 September 1983, the acting CJCS notified USClNCEUR of that decision. Later that day, USClNCEUR directed ClNCUSNAVEUR to inform his subordinate commands to provide fire support to the LAF when the U.S. ground commander (CTF 62) determined that Suq-AlGharb
was in danger of falling to an attack by non-Lebanese forces. USCINCEUR directed in the same message, "Nothing in this message shall be construed as changing the mission or ROE for USMNF."
In the aftermath of the 23 October 1983 terrorist attack at the BLT Headquarters, review of the basic USI1NF ROE was conducted at virtually every level of command. ROE were promulgated to govern the use of electronic warfare, and reviews of specific ROE for F-14/Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance PODS (TARPS) flights, for air defense, and for defensive activities of afloat elements of the U.S. presence (i.e. CTF 60 and CTF 61) were conducted. Late on 23 October, CTF 61 submitted a ROE change request to COMSIXTHFLT requesting that USMNF personnel at BIA be authorized to take under fire any civilian vehicle which approached USMNF positions at a high rate of speed and failed to acknowledge signals to stop. COMSIXTHFLT forwarded the request up the chain of command. On 25 October 1983, USClNCEUR responded that the authority requested was already covered under the self-protection rules of the ROE in effect. The USClNCEUR response noted that the promulgation in early May 1983 of additional ROE for the U.S. Embassy security tasking was considered necessary because the USMNF had been assigned an additional mission which went beyond its self-defense. On 26 October 1983, CINCUSNAVEUR approved the ROE modification requested by CTF 61. On 26 November 1983, COMSlXTHFLT proposed to CI~USNAVEUR that the ROE be further changed to authorize the taking of prompt, forceful action against any unauthorized attempt to gain entry into an area occupied by the USMNF. CINCUSNAVEUR and USClNCEUR responded on 27 November 1983 that such action was already auth~ized by existing ROE. USCINCEUR, however, agreed to provlde specific rules in a forthcoming revision of the original ROE.
The ROE were developed in accordance with established JCS guidance, and promulgated by the appropriate command authority,
46 USClNCEUR. Although the rapid deterioration of the situation
in Beirut which led to reinsertion of the USMNF caused understandable compression in the process, each command echelon participated in the development of the ROE provided
to the USMNF.
The environment into which the USI1NF was inserted on 29 September 1982 was clearly permissive. The judgement that the USMNF was perceived as a neutral, stabilizing presence by most, if not all, factions in the Beirut area can be drawn from the general absence of hostile reactions in th.e initial months of their presence. The ROE were appropriate for such a permissive environment. But the environment proved to be dynamic, and became increasingly hostile to the USHNF component as the U.S. presence stretched beyond the brief stay envisioned by the original Exchange of Notes.
The Commission believes that for any ROE to be effective, they should incorporate definitions of hostile intent and hostile action which correspond to the realities of the environment in which they are to be implemented. To be adequate, they must also provide the commander explicit authority to respond quickly to acts defined as hostile. Only when these two criteria are satisifed do ROE provide the on-scene commander with the guidance and the flexibility he requires to defend his force. By these measures, the ROE in force at BlA subsequent to the U.S. Embassy bombing in April were neither effective nor adequate. That event clearly signaled a change in the environment: the employment of terrorist tactics by hostile elements.
The emergence of the terrorist threat brought the guidance and flexibility afforded by the ROE into question. The modified ROE promulgated for the security force assigned to
U.S. Embassy facilities were necessary. For the first time, threatening actions such as attempts to breach bar~iers or checkpoints were specifically defined as hostile acts justifying the use of military force.· USMNF personnel providing security for the Embassy were authorized to take adequate defensive action in those circumstances. But the commander of the USMNF perceived that the new ROE from USClNCEUR were for use only by the Embassy security element. The presumption at HQ USEUCOl1, subsequently apparent in both messages and discussions with principals, was that the USHNF Commander had already been given sufficient guidance and authority to respond to vehicular terrorist attacks against his forces at BIA in the original ROE promulgated on 24 September 1982. In the view of the Commission, the ROE provided in May for the Embassy security contingent should have been explicitly extended to the entire USMNF.
The Commission believes that ROE developed for the insertion of the US~rnF into Lebanon in late September 1982, were appropriate
47 to the relatively benign environment that existed at that time. That environment, however, was dynamic and became increasingly anti-USMNF. The Commission also believes that development by the chain of command of ROE guidance for the USMNF at BIA did not keep pace with the changing threat.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT IMPLEMENTATION
The ROE contained in the 24 September 1982 USCINCEUR OPREP-l were implemented by Commander Amphibious Task Force/Commander U.S. Forces Lebanon (CTF 61), and Commander 32d Marine Amphibious Unit/Commander U.S. Forces Ashore Lebanon (CTF 62), upon insertion of the USMNF into Beirut on 29 September 1982. CTF 62 implemented the ROE for the USMNF through the issuance of specific instructions to his personnel on 27 October and 12 November 1982. (COMSIXTHFLT and CTF 61 were information addressees on that traffic.) The central guidance for implementation of the ROE was that USHNF elements would only engage in defensive actions.
Briefly summarized, the following points constitute the ROE guidance utilized by the individual members of the USMNF from 29 September 1982 until 7 May 1983.
-Action taken by U.S. forces ashore in Lebanon would be for self-defense only.
- Reprisal or punitive measures would not be initiated.
-Commanders were to seek guidance from higher headquarters prior to using armed force, if time and situation allowed.
-If time or the situation did not allow the opportunity to request guidance from higher headquarters, commanders were authorized to use that degree of armed force necessary to protect their forces.
-Hostile ground forces which had infiltrated and violated USMNF lines by land, sea, or air would be warned that they could not proceed and were in a
/ restricted area. If the intruder force failed to leave, the violation would be reported and guidance requested.
-Riot control agents would not be used unless authorized by the Secretary of Defense.
- Hostile forces would not be pursued.
-A "hostile act" was defined as an attack or use of force against the USMNF, or against MNF or LAF units
48 operating with the USMNF, that consisted of releasing,
launching, or firing of missiles, bombs, individual
weapons, rockets or any other weapon.
Following the 18 April 1983 destruction of the U.S. Embassy, USCINCEUR promulgated an expanded set of ROE for use by USMNF personnel assigned to provide security for the British Embassy and the Duraffourd Building where U.S. Embassy functions had been relocated. Those expanded ROE were implemented by CTF 62 through the issuance to each Marine assigned to Embassy security duty of an ROE card, the so called "Blue Card". Since the USCINCEUR expanded ROE were promulgated for specific use of those members of the USMNF assigned to provide security for the Embassy, USMNF elements at BIA continued to operate under the ROE previously provided. In order to ensure that each Marine of the USMNF understood what set of ROE were applicable to him at any given time, CTF 62 issued a "White Card" delineating the ROE for those not assigned to Embassy duty, as follows:
"The mission of the Multi-national Force (MNF) is to keep the peace. The following rules of engagement will be read and fully understood by all members of the U.S. contingent of the MNF:
-When on post, mobile or foot patrol, keep a loaded magazine in the weapon, weapons will be on safe, with no rounds in the chamber.
-Do not chamber a round unless instructed to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.
-Keep ammunition for crew-served weapons readily available but not loaded in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe at all times.
-Call local forces to assist in all self-defense efforts. Notify next senior command immediately.
-Use only the minimum degree of force necessary to accomplish the mission.
Stop the use of force when it is no longer
-If effective fire is received, direct return fire at a distinct target only. If possible, use friendly sniper fire.
-aespect civilian property; do not attack it unless
~~sclutely necessary to protect friendly forces.
49 -Protect innocent civilians from harm.
-Respect and protect recognized medical agencies such as Red Cross, Red Crescent, etc.
These rules of engagement will be followed by all members of the U.S. MNF unless otherwise directed."
. All USMNF personnel were required to carry the appropriate card and know its content at all times while on duty. The practical result was that USMNF elements operated under two sets of ROE from early May 1983 until after the 23 October 1983 bombing of the BLT Headquarters building.
The Blue Card/White Card ROE guidance continued in effect until 24 October 1983 (the day following the BLT Headquarters bombing) when CTF 62 sought a ROE change from USClNCEUR, via the chain of command, to allow USMNF personnel to take under fire speeding vehicles approaching USMNF positions at BlA. On 26 November 1983, COMSlXTHFLT requested that USMNF personnel be authorized to fire, without warning if necessary, on vehicles attempting unauthorized access to an area of USMNF positions. As noted in Section I of this Part, on both of those occasions ClNCUSNAVEUR and USClNCEUR held the view that the original ROE (24 September 1982) authorized CTF 62 to take such actions as he, the on-scene commander, considered necessary to defend his force against hostile action. Nonetheless, approval was provided to CTF 62.
B. Discuss ion.
CTF 62 determined that restraint in the use of force was key to accomplishing the presence mission he was assigned, and that strict adherence to the ROE was necessary if his forces were to maintain the "neutral" stance that the presence role entailed.
The Commission views with concern the fact that there were two different sets of ROE ~eing used by US~rnF elements in Beirut after the Embassy boml~ng on 18 April 1983. Those ROE used by the Embassy security detail were designed to counter the terrorist threat posed by both vehicles and personnel. Marines on similar duty at BlA, however, did not have the same ROE to provide them specific guidance and auth&rity to respond to a vehicle or person moving through a perimeter. Their "White Card" ROE required them to call local forces to assist in all self-defense efforts.
Message transmissions up and down the USCINCEUR chain of command revealed that COMSlXTHFLT subordinate elements had different perceptions of the commander's latitude in implementing ROE than did ClNCUSNAVEUR and USClNCEUR. The latter believed
J• authority to forceably halt vehicles attempting unauthorized entry into the area of USMNF positions was inherent in the original 24 September 1982 ROE. CTF 62 obviously did not share that view.
The Commission believes there were a number of factors which cumulatively affected the "mind-set" of the Marines at BIA. One factor was the mission, with its emphasis on highly visible presence and peace-keeping. Another was the ROE, which underscored the need to fire only if fired upon, to avoid harming innocent civilians, to respect civilian property, and to share security and self-defense efforts with the LAF. Promulgation of different ROE for those performing Embassy security duties contributed to a sense among the officers and men at BIA that the terrorist threat confronting them was somehow less dangerous than that which prevailed at the Embassy. The "White Card -Blue Card" dichotomy tended to formalize that view. Interviews of individual Marines who performed duty at the two locations confirm this mind-set. In short, the Commission believes the 11arines at BIA were conditioned by their ROE to respond less aggressively to unusual vehicular or pedestrian activity at their perimeter than were those Marines posted at the Embassy locations.
The Commission concludes that a single set of ROE providing specific guidance for countering the type of vehicular terrorist attacks that destroyed the U.S. Embassy on"18 April 1983 and the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983 had not been provided to, nor implemented by, CTF 62.
The Commission further concludes that the mission statement, the original ROE, and the implementation in May 1983 of dual "Blue Card" -"White Card" ROE contributed to a mind-set "that detracted from the readiness of the USMNF to respond to the terrorist threat which materialized on 23 October 1983. FIGURE 3-1
OPERATIONAL CHAIN OF COMMAND
I .. COMSIXTHFLT CTF 61 COI1.MANDER U.S. FORCES LESANOH (Co~~ander Amphibious Task Force) (COMPHIBRON.EIGHT) CTF 62 COMMANDER USMNF COMMANDER U.S. FORCES ASHORE LEBANON (Landing Force Commander) (MAU Commander)
(Supported CINC/Theater Commander)
(USEUCOM Naval Compon~nt Comm.lnd~r)
~2 PART THREE -THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
I. EXERCISE OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY BY THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
A. Principal Findings.
The operational chian of command for the U.S. Multinational
Force (USMNF) in Lebanon isllustrated in Figure 3-1. Command authority and responsibility flows from the President to the Secretary of Defense, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Commander in Chief, U.S. Forces Europe (USCINCEUR). In the theater, operational command runs from USCINCEUR to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) ,and from CINCUSNAVEUR to Commander, Sixth Fleet, (COMSIXTHFLT). Operational command flows from COMSIXTHFLT to Commander, Amphibious Task Force (CTF 61), who is designated Commander, U.S. Forces Lebanon. The MAU Commander, CTF 62, is Commander, U.S. Forces Ashore Lebanon; subordinate to him is the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Commander, who has immediate command of the Marine combat Companies assigned to the MAU. CTF 62 is also Commander, USMNF.
The Commission sought to determine the degree of command involvlement in supporting the USMNF throughout the period of its development, with particular emphasis on the initial thirteen months, from September 1982 through 23 October 1983. The several areas of specific concern to the Commission correspond to the major Parts of this report. Detailed findings and discussion on each Part pertain in varying degrees to the findings in this Part.
As has been described in the text addressing the mission and rules of engagement (ROE), each level of the chain of command recognized that the environment in which the USMNF was operating changed from generally benign to increasingly hostile through the spring and summer of 1983. The assigned mission, however, remained unchanged. ROE were modified by USCINCEUR at the request of CTF 62 following the bombing of the U.S. Embassy, but the modifications (at least in CTF 62's view) applied only to USMNF elements providing external security to the Embassy buildings. Although the tasks assigned to the USMNF increased in scope, to include training the LAF, patrolling jointly with them, and eventually
providing naval gun fire support to the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb, the Commission was unable to document any alteration of the original mission. USCINCEUR did recommend to CJCS on 18 October 1983 that long term objectives of the USMNF presence be reassessed in light of the increasing threat and that withdrawal of the force be considered.
Security measures taken by the USMNF elements at BIA prior to 23 October 1983 are described in detail in PART FIVE of this report. Documentation available to the Commission contains little to indicate that these measures were subject to effective scrutiny by the operational chain of command. In fact, the Commission's inquiry revealed a general attitude throughout the chain of command that security measures in effect ashore were essentially the sole province of the USMNF Commander and that it would somehow be improper to tell him how best to protect his force. As a consequence, the chain of command promulgated no direction to USMNF elements ashore with respect to physical security at BIA prior to 23 October 1983
The Commission was apprised of a HQ USEUCOM staff element with specific responsibility for analyzing security against terrorist attack. The Special Assistant for Security Matters (SASM) went to Beirut following the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy to evaluate the security of the operations of the Office of Military Cooperation (OMC) against terrorist actions. .SASM subsequently initiated a number of anti-terrorist actions designed to enhance the security of OMC personnel. (This effort is more fully described in PART NINE of this report.) The SASM survey team was not charged by USCINCEUR to evaluate the anti-terrorist defenses of the USMNF elements at BIA, and did not do so.
Principals and senior staff officers within the· operational chain of command visited the USMNF at BIA prior to 23 October 1983. There is no evidence that any visit resulted in recommendations through the chain of command to enhance the security of the USMNF there. (Specific security measures in effect at the MAU compound preceding and at the time of the ~ October 1933 attack are addressed in PART FIVE of this report.)
/The Commission holds the view that military commanders are responsible for the performance of their subordinates.
The commander can dele~ate some or all of his authority to his subordinates, but he cannot· delegate his. responsibility for .the performance of any of the forces he commands. In that sense, the responsibility of miltiary command is absolute. This view of command authority and responsibility ~uided the Commission in
its analysis of the effectiveness of the exercise of command authority and responsihility of the chain of
command for the USMNF in Lebanon.
The Commission believes there was a fundamental conflict between the peace-keepin~ mission provided through the chain of command to the USI1NF, and the increasin~ly active role that the United States was takin~ in support of the LAF. The Commission believes that as the political/military situation in Lebanon evolved, aggressive follow-up and continuin~ reassessment of the tasks of the USMNF and the support provided by the chain of command were necessary. As the environment chan~ed, the unique nature of the "presence" mission assigned to the USMNF demanded continuing analysis and the promulgation of appropriate guidance to assist the USMNF Commander to take those actions necessary to protect his force.
Although the documentation gathered by the Commission clearly established that every echelon of the chain of command was concerned with the safety of the USMNF in the deteriorating political/military environment of Beirut, the Commission's investigation revealed a lack of systematic and a~gressive chain of command attention to the anti-terrorist security measures in use by the USMNF on the ~round at BIA. This was in sharp contrast to the direct involvement of the USCINCEUR SASM team in the security posture of the OMC in Beirut against terrorist attack. The prompt. positive action taken by USCINCEUR to improve the security of the OMC is illustrative of the aggressive command involvem~~ tha~ could and should have been directed toward-the USI1NF as well. We note here and in our findings and discussion on terrorism in PART NINE of this report that USCINCEUR has taken action subsequent to the 23 October 1983 attack to include the security of the USI1NF in the charter of the SASM. A further example of how its aggressive involvement might have assisted the USI1NF Commander. was the positive action of the chain of command prior to 23 October 1983 to enhance the protection of ships of CTF 61.
The Commission is fully aware that the entire chain of command was heavily involved in the planning for. and support of. the USMNF. The Commission concludes. however. that USCINCEUR. CINCUSNAVEUR. COt1SIXTHFLT and CTF 61 did not initiate actions to effectively ensure the security of the USMNF in li~ht of the deteriorating political/military situation in Lebanon. In short. the Commission found a lack of effective command supervision of the USMNF prior to 23 October 1983.
The Commission concludes that the failure of the USCINCEUR operational chain of command to inspect and supervise the defensive posture of the USMNF constituted tacit approval of the security measures and procedures in force at the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983.
The Commission further concludes that although it finds the USCINCEUR operational chain of command at fault. it also finds that there was a series of circumstances beyond the control of these commanders that influenced their judgement and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense take whatever administrative or disciplinary action he deems appropriate. citing the failure of the USCINCEUR operational chain of command to monitor and supervise effectively the security measures and procedures employed by the USMNF on 23 October 1983.
PART FOUR -INTELLIGENCE
I. THE THREAT
A. Principal Findings.
Intelli~ence assessments available to the National Command authorities and the military chain of command, and produced in support of this Commission, divide the spectrum of threat 'to the USMNF into two broad cate~ories: conventional military action, and terrorist tactics. These assessments hi~hli~ht the complexity of the threat
u environment confrontin~ U.S. military units in Lebanon.
The potential use of terrorist tactics a~ainst
• American targets in Beirut -The USMNF, U.S. Embassy offices in the Duraffourd Buildin~ and co-located with the British Embassy, the U.S. Ambassador's Residence, apartments housin~ U.S. military and Embassy personnel, hotels housing,U.S. officials, and even American University Beirut -is not the exclusive province of Iranian-backed Shiite terrorists. Radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups, some in conjunction with or with the support of Syria, could also employ terrorist tactics a~ainst the USMNF or other American tar~ets. Stockpiles of explosives, built up over a decade prior to the Israeli invasion of June 1982, are reportedly still in place and available for future terrorist operations in and around Beirut.
1• ----~--- ----
The Commission believes it important to recognize that the "threat" to the USMNF, as described above, did not exist in that form when the USMNF was inserted into Lebanon in the wake of Sabra-Shatila refu~ee camp massacre by Christian militia forces. A goon manyLebanese Shiites were amon~ the victims of that massacre, and American Marines arrivin~ to position themselves between the lar~ely Shiite populace of the southern Beirut suburbs and the IDF were initially welcomed by that populace as heroes and protectors. Clearly, important se~ments of that citizenry no longer regard them as such, to say nothing of the hostility manifested toward the USMNF by Iranian-inspired fanatics and Syriansupported
Druze gunners. In the view of the Commission, the threat confronting the USMNF evolved incrementally to its present alarming state, and reflects the fact that internally, Lebanon continues to suffer from violent political competition among a number of domestic sectarian groups, some of whom consider the I1NF troops to be less peace-keepers than supporters of the Maronite Christian faction of the Lebanese ethnic fabric.
The warmth of the reception first accorded the USHNF did not, however, reflect the U.S. intelligence community's estimation of the likely pitfalls that awaited American peace-keepers in Lebanon. The Commission considers the following passage from a study dated 23 July 1982 (weeks before the first insertion of U.S. Marines) to be particularly instructive:
"If a peacekeeping force is to avoid the problems of divining the intentions of armed eLements and avoiding entrapment in Lebanese internal conflicts, it will be essential for the question of extralegal armed presence in the area to be settled before its deployment. If a multinational force is to be used, basic issues affecting its ability to accomplish its mission must be settled in advance. If these issues are not clarified and resolved durin~ a predeployment phase, no one should be surprised if the peacekeeping force encounters intractable political and military problems on the ~round (as was the case with UNIFIL)."
In short, the experience of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) demonstrated that a peace-keeping force requires certain conditions to be present if it is to operate effectively. In the context of Lebanon, this meant that extralegal militias could not be allowed to operate in or near the MNF area of responsibility. There was, however, no force in being to prevent them from doing so.
As demonstrated elsewhere in this report, political
and military developments on the ground in Lebanon
caused the USMNF to be viewed in some quarters not as a
peace-keeper, but as a helligerent.
An abundance of open-source statements by Syrian and Druze spokesmen makes it clear that there is a widespread belief among its adversaries that the key actors within the Government of Lebanon -the President of the Republic and the Commander in Chief of Lebanese Armed Forces -are Maronite Phalangists first and foremost, and that Muslim and Druze officials and soliders in the government or serving in the LAF are
~ either traitors, opportunists, or unwitting dupes of the Maronite establishment. The factual basis of 'this perception is moot. What counts is that certain
.. measures undertaken by the USMNF, such as training the LAF and providing naval gunfire support to the defenders of Suq-al-Gharb, has -in the eyes of the LAF's opponents confirmed
their belief that by 23 October 1983, the USMNF had long since abandoned its peace-keeping/presence position.
A number of watershed political/military events marked the steady evolution of the threat from the relatively benign environment of August-September 1982 to that which confronted the USMNF on 23 October 1983. Lebanon's current military predicament began during the last week of June 1982, when the Maronite-dominated Lebanese Forces (LF) militia began to move steadily up the Beirut-Damascus highway toward Alayh, where it engaged militia elements of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). The LF, in an effort to establish its presence in new areas, moved into Saida and the western fringes of the Shuf by the end of the month. It was in the Shuf, under the watchful eyes of the IDF occupation force, that the LF and PSP maneuvered toward an inevitable confrontation. The si~nificance of the LF advance is that it rekindled the Lebanese civil war.
Political lines within Lebanon were hardened consioerably by the Israel-Lebanon Agreement of 17 May 1983. The agreement had, among other things, established Lebanese-Israeli security arrangements for southern Lebanon. and made provision for the withdrawal of the IDF. Yet the IDF predicated its own withdrawal upon that of two parties not included in the negotiations: Syria and the PLO.
Israel began in July 1983 to plan for the withdrawal of
429-987 0 -84 -5 •
its forces from the Alayh and Shuf Districts to the Awwali River line. In anticipation of this withdrawal,
the PSP, LAF, and LF began to maneuver for position. LAF-PSP clashes in the Shuf resulted in Druze shelling of BIA on 22 July which closed the airport and wounded three Marines. LF-PSP fighting spilled over in the form of artillery attacks that closed BIA from 10-16 August. During the same timeframe (15-17 July) the LAF engaged
the Shiite Amal militia in Beirut follwing the LAF's eviction of Shiite squatters from an area near the Holiday Inn.
As the LAF struggled to establish control over the Shiite neighborhoods (a process which eventually failed), the IDF prepared to evacuate Alayh and the Shuf. On 4 September 1983, the IDF withdrew to the Awwali River and the Lebanese civil war resumed in earnest in the hills overlooking BIA •.
On 5 September 1983, the LF began to feel the full impact of its ill-considered move into the Alayh District over a year before, as its forces were routed in Bhamdun. The disaster was later extended to the Shuf, as an estimated 1,000 LF fighters were trapped in Dayr-AlQamar.
These then, were the events that led to the LAF's stand at Suq-AI-Gharb. In the view of the Commission,
U.S. support of the LAF in that operation, timely and effective though it was, nevertheless confirmed definitively, in the eyes of the LAF's enemies, the belligerent status of the USMNF.
The Commission recognizes that there was abundant evidence that Syrian, Druze, and some Shiite leaders had come to consider the USMNF as a partisan participant on the Lebanese scene well before Suq-AI-Gharb. CINCUSNAVEUR advised the Commission that "by mid-tolate
August 1983, Druze, Shia, and Syrian leaders had begun making statements to the effect that the Multinational Forces, especially tPe U.S. element, was one of 'the enemy'." On 25 August PSP leader Walid Jumblatt claimed that "the Marines have bluntly and directly threatened us. This is proof of the U.S. alliance with the Phalange Party."
"The Conventional threat to the US!1NF -land, sea, and
air -is largely a function of the progress (or lack thereof)toward an internal Lebanese political settlement acceptable to Syria. All data available to the Commission suggest that a strong relationship exits between Lebanon's
6u steady slide back toward anarchy and the tendency of
some parties to label the USMNF a belligerent. It is
obviously not the intention of the United States to
place its power and prestige at the disposal of one' or
more of Lebanon's sectarian-based political factions. It is undeniable, however, that the facts of political life in Lebanon make any attempt on the part of an
outsider to appear nonpartisan virtually impossible.
The Government of Lebanon is not an antiseptic instrument
of a collectiv~ Lebanese will; nor is it a collection
of disinterested public servants isolated from the forces of family, clan, religion, and localism that are fundamental to life in Lebanon. President Gemayel is a
Maronite Phalangist who is the son of the Phalange
Party's founder and the brother of the man who built the LF militia. General Tannous is likewise a Maronite
who has a history of close connections with the Phalange
: Party and the LF militia. Whatever their true intentions may be concerning the future of Lebanon, they aTe caught in the same tangled web of distrust, misunderstanding, malevolence, conspiracy, and betrayal that has brought Lebanon to political bankruptcy and ruin. Whatever good will, decency, competence and dedication they now bring to bear in the execution of their duties, they can neither undo that which they have been in the past nor renounce their origins. No Lebanese can easily escape the rigid categorizations
that begin with the circumstances surrounding his birth. For someone named Gemayel, the escape is all the more di fficult.
The Commission views Lebanon as an ideal environment for the planning and execution of terrorist operations. For over eight years, Beirut has been an armed camp featuring indiscriminate killing, seemingly random a6ts of terror, and massive stockpiling of weapons and ammunition. We are told that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a Lebanese household which does not possess firearms. Notwithstanding the opportunity presented the Government of Lebanon by the evacuation of the PLO and the dispersal of LNM militias in September 1982, there are still nei.~hborhoods in and around Beirut's southern suburbs which the LAF dare not enter.
The Iranian connection introduces a particulary ominous element to the terrorist threat in that the incidence of Iranian-inspired terrorism need not be connected directly with the reconciliation process in Lebanon. Iranian operatives in Lebanon are in the business of killing Americans. They are in that business whether or not the USIINF trains the LAF or provides indirect fire support to the defenders of Suq-AIGharb.,
If the reconciliation process succeeds in restoring
domestic order and removin~ forei~n forces, it may be more difficult for Iranian inspired terrorists to avail themselves of the support mechanisms (personnel, basing, supply, trainin~) now so readily available. It is clear, however, that pro~ress toward reconciliation in Lebanon will not dissuade Iran from attemptin~ to hit American tar~ets; indeed, any evidence of such pro~ress may spur new Iraniansponsored
acts of political violence as a means of derailing the process. The only development which would seriously impede the terrorist activities o
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