A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Admiral Nazih Baroudi
Clearly the global financial crisis has pushed the majority of the world’s countries to take austerity measures in their defense expenditures, and that is the case in the Middle East. Additionally, the threats there have made it incumbent on countries of the region to find an appropriate balance between economic deadlocks and defense capabilities.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which was passed in 2006, and the high probability of finding gas and oil reserves in the seabed of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) have put greater responsibilities on the Lebanese Navy and compelled it to strive for more development and progress.
The navy’s current objective is based on developing its capabilities in terms of equipment and personnel in order to succeed in executing required missions in Lebanese regional waters and accordingly dispense with the presence of the maritime task force operating under U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon command in line with the implementation of Resolution 1701.
To move ahead we have adopted a more rapid pace of development since 2006, when new patrol boats were added to the fleet. Moreover, our coastal-surveillance capabilities have reached a high degree of reliability with the establishment of many radar stations along the coast. However, aiming for a stronger future, we recently adopted a ten-year naval strategy to meet the requirements in the protection of territorial waters and the EEZ, especially when gas- and oil-extraction begins.
Our ten-year strategic objectives, then, are as follows:
• Increase maritime domain awareness
• Conduct operations in rough (Sea State 5) waters
• Develop the ability to patrol the EEZ for future oil and gas platform protection
• Assume responsibility of the UNIFIL maritime task force in implementing Resolution 1701
• Expand naval basing
• Upgrade manpower abilities and training
Further, we have prioritized those objectives in four broad categories. Regarding material acquisitions, we list boats ranging in size from 20-60 meters, adding logistics vessels, and acquiring more fast patrol boats—especially rigid inflatables.
We also hope to establish naval bases, including one for logistics, as well as upgrading the facilities and training support of our naval school. As for personnel, our key goal is to recruit at the technological high school level to meet the challenges of new technologies and equipment. Finally, we would like to see more instruction abroad for both officers and enlisted ranks, while increasing the number of in-country, mobile training teams—especially from the United States—to enhance proficiency in maritime affairs as well as in repair and maintenance.