Netherlands to provide support for Lebanon’s Armed Forces

BEIRUT: The Netherlands will step up support for Lebanon’s Armed Forces as part of a large cooperation program aimed at bolstering the military’s border security and counterterrorism capabilities, Dutch Ambassador to Lebanon Han-Maurits Schaapveld told Annahar Wednesday.

The support program – which will be split into three aspects – will initially involve integrated border management, whereby Dutch professionals will provide equipment and train border patrol officers on the identification of falsified documents.

“We are helping the army in the task of managing the Lebanese border …doing so by giving them courses on recognizing falsified documents accompanied with equipment such as Ultra-Violet scanners and chemical hardware to recognize illegal papers,” he added.

The program will kick off with the delivery of 20 ambulance vehicles to the Lebanese border patrol, which will be received on Thursday in Lebanon’s mountainous area of Cornet Chahwan.

“We are equipping border regiments with 20 new ambulances that have been equipped with the latest medical standards which will be handed over tomorrow to the Lebanese Armed Forces, to ease the link between the border and a hospital as fast as possible,” Schaapveld said.

The Dutch ambassador highlighted the important role of the Lebanese Army in counter-terrorism and protecting its north and eastern borders with Syria.

“The armed forces are the ones that have to defend the integrity of the territory on the one hand, while also being very active on counter-terrorism,” he said, adding, “For us, it’s an important institution, it’s a trustworthy institution …. it’s really proof that we value the army and its situation in Lebanon.”

The aid will also involve the implementation of a civil-military co-operation program (CIMIC) to help army personnel effectively integrate with local communities. This will enable “the army to become well accepted within the community in such a way that they are trusted, also getting the necessary information they need such as knowing all the mayors and municipality members of a certain area, leaders of clans and youth groups,” Schaapveld explained.

The ambassador highlighted the Dutch government’s support for the LAF’s plans to establish CIMIC centers in the Beqaa Valley and south of the country, following the recent opening of a center north of Tripoli. “We opened one (center) two weeks ago in the north of Tripoli, another is coming in the Beqaa valley before the summer and the army is looking at a third one in the South which will probably be hosted around UNIFIL,” he added.

The ambassador added that the cooperation program will also involve forensic science training for the military, police and the security forces. The courses will be offered the Netherlands Forensic Institute to aid security and armed forces in crime investigation.

“This support will manifest in giving courses about blood samples, DNA samples as well as tire tracks or other things, thus we are helping the police, the security forces and the army cause with their mandate of investigating crime scenes,” the ambassador told Annahar.