UNIFIL Finnish peacekeepers operating under the Mission’s Force Commander’s Reserve participated in a coordinated exercise with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the southern Lebanese town of Kawkaba, located at the altitude of 750 metres from the sea level.
The inclement weather conditions did not deter them from carrying out an exercise, one of hundreds of such coordinated activities between the two forces.
First Lieutenant Hilal Saab of the LAF said: “The training that we are conducting today falls in the context of cooperation between UNIFIL and the LAF in operational, tactical, training and logistical matters, in addition to improving the level of coordination and cooperation with UNIFIL in order to build a unified communication language in implementing the tasks, where UNIFIL shared its expertise and knowledge with LAF to train its units.”
The coordinated exercise, conducted on 8 January in Hasbaya district of south Lebanon, brought together 20 participants, with 10 each from UNIFIL and the LAF 7th Brigade.
UNIFIL Finnish Jaeger Company Commanding Officer, Major Liro Olsonen, said these coordinated trainings represent the core of UNIFIL’s mission and “we are proud to be able to exchange expertise with our strategic partners in the LAF.”
Coordinated trainings and exercises between UNIFIL and LAF lie at the core of the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1701, which forms the core of UNIFIL’s mandate. This stipulates strengthening LAF capacities, improving mutual coordination, and enhancing military exchanges and operational capabilities of both forces.
In 2019 alone, the number of such activities in both land and sea was 1,800, up from more than 1,500 in 2018.
UNIFIL currently has some 10,500 peacekeepers from 45 troop-contributing countries, where Finland contributes with 181 troops deployed in the UN peacekeeping mission operating in south Lebanon.