Sunday, August 13, 2006

 

SFGate: U.S. to Help Train, Equip Lebanon Army

A Puppet Army??

The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/08/03/national/w111351D65.DTL
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Thursday, August 3, 2006 (AP)
U.S. to Help Train, Equip Lebanon Army
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

(08-03) 13:38 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

The United States plans to help train and equip the Lebanese army so it
can take control of all of the nation's territory when warfare between
Israel and Hezbollah eases, the State Department said Thursday.

The program was approved by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to take effect "once we have
conditions on the ground permitting," spokesman Sean McCormack said.

McCormack provided no details on what equipment the United States might
provide, the training that would be conducted, how many U.S. personnel
would be involved, or possible costs.

Last week, the State Department notified Congress it wanted to add $10
million to the $1.5 million it provides annually to the Lebanese military.

Other nations will help out, too, McCormack said, as American diplomats
consulted with French and other officials on a U.N. resolution for a
cease-fire in Lebanon.

"We feel pretty optimistic that there's going to be something" worked out
on a resolution at the end of the week or early next week, White House
spokesman Tony Snow said.

Gen. John Abizaid, who heads the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate
Armed Services Committee Thursday the Lebanese armed force "needs a
significant upgrade of equipment and training capability that I believe
the Western nations, particularly the United States, can assist with."

Before the war, command officials visited the Lebanese armed forces for an
assessment, Abizaid said, and "we saw that they needed some significant
spare parts" and other help.

On prospects for ending the fighting, he said "it will never work for
Lebanon if, over time, Hezbollah has a greater military capacity than the
Lebanese armed forces."

Rice, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary David
Welch are working with other governments, mostly by telephone, to put
together a resolution "that stands up," McCormack said.

This would include disarming Hezbollah, already ordered by the Security
Council in 2004, and establishing an international peacekeeping force to
move into southern Lebanon.

Nations that would contribute troops are expected to meet next week at the
U.N. A meeting was postponed on Monday and again on Thursday.

Rice plans to spend the weekend at President Bush's ranch in Texas and
will be "working the phones from Crawford," McCormack said.

"There's still some diplomacy that needs to be done," he said,

Bush has said he does not envision having American ground troops in a
peacekeeping force, but the U.S. could contribute communications,
logistics and other support.

The administration is striving for a resolution that would end the
conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, now in its fourth week, and also
establish conditions for a lasting cease-fire. Many other countries favor
an immediate cease-fire.

The military training would be designed to help the Lebanese armed forces
"exercise control and sovereignty over all of Lebanese territory once we
have an end to the fighting in such a way that is durable," McCormack
said. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2006 AP


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