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Tactical Lessons For Peacekeeping
U.S. Multinational Force in Beirut 1982-1984

Major Ronald F. Baczkowski, USMC

Executive Summary

Research Question: Were the Marine Amphibious Units (MAUs) employed in Beirut, Lebanon from August 1982 to February 1984 properly trained, equipped, and organized to conduct peacekeeping operations? If so, were there tactical reasons for the 24th MAU's failure? What are the tactical lessons learned for future peacekeeping forces?


The U.S. Multinational Force (USMNF) operated in Beirut, Lebanon from 25 August 1982 to 26 February 1984. During this period four different MAUs served as peacekeepers. The USMNF was initially successful; but, as the strategic and tactical situations changed, the peacekeepers came increasingly under fire. On 23 October 1983, a lone terrorist destroyed the headquarters building of BLT 1/8, killing 241 Marines and sailors and wounding over 100 others.

This study examines the tactical situation and how it changed. It analyzes how the training before employment may have assisted or prevented the tactical-level forces from operating effectively. It examines both positive and negative lessons learned through critical analysis. It provides many details concerning the actual tactical situation so the reader can conduct his or her own critical analysis and come to their own conclusions.


MAUs can be used in peacekeeping operations if the mission is carefully defined, the situation is fairly constant, and the operation is relatively short duration. By extension to their modern equivalents, forward-deployed and rapid-deployment combat forces can also be used in peacekeeping operations under the same conditions. These type forces have the equipment, personnel, and discipline required to conduct short duration peacekeeping operations.

However, peacekeeping operations are normally decentralized and are conducted in a constantly changing environment over a long duration. Under these conditions, forward-deployed units lack the specialized training and education necessary to conduct peacekeeping operations. Combat forces, which are not trained in peacekeeping theory and tactics, are restricted to operate in a predictible set-piece pattern as directed by their higher headquarters. This pattern creates a vulnerability in the peacekeeping force that can be exploited by parties hostile to the force. Additionally, when faced with unfamiliar stressful situations combat forces, which are not specially trained for peacekeeping, tend to respond as they would in conventional combat and not the way they should respond in peacekeeping. Excessive force makes the peacekeepers a party to the conflict instead of a neutral third party.

If forward-deployed combat forces are the initial rapid-response force committed to peacekeeping operations, they should be replaced by specially trained peacekeeping forces as soon as possible.

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

At approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 October 1983, the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Headquarters building in the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) compound at Beirut International Airport was destroyed by a terrorist bomb. This catastrophic attack took the lives of 241 U. S. military personnel and wounded over 100 others. The bombing was carried out by a lone terrorist.

The spectacular loss of life at so little cost to terrorists led to two separate investigations concerning the security of the U. S. Multinational Force (USMNF) positions in Beirut before the end of 1983. The U. S. Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, also known as the Long Commission, focused on the force's ability to operate in a terrorist environment. Among its findings it concludes "that the USMNF was not trained, organized, staffed, or supported to deal effectively with the terrorist threat in Lebanon." The day before the release of the Long Commission report, the U. S. House of Representatives' Investigations Subcommittee published a separate report, which focused on the adequacy of Marine security. While both reports conclude the security of the tactical-level forces was inadequate at the time of the bombing, they focus primarily on measures taken to protect against the specific threat of terrorism. They pay little attention to the other aspects of the peacekeeping mission.

In an interview conducted almost five months before the terrorist attack, the MAU Commander, Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, stated the greatest threat to the USMNF was terrorism. Tactical-level commanders recognized the possibility of a terrorist threat and took what they considered appropriate action against this threat. However, they also had to consider many other factors besides terrorism while carrying out their mission. The Long Commission came close to recognizing these other factors in its conclusion:

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 judgment and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.

Tactical-level commanders misjudged the relative importance of terrorism as a factor as compared to other factors affecting their mission.

Since the release of the Long Commission report, the USMNF in Lebanon has been studied from many different perspectives. The U. S. Naval War College uses the Beirut failure as a case study to analyze national and strategic- level decisionmaking. The commitment of U. S. military force and subsequent catastrophe receive credit in part for the development of the Weinberger Doctrine that outlines the criteria for the use of U. S. military force in a crisis. Several analyses conducted by students at the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College and U. S. Naval War College examine the USMNF's performance from the perspective of operational art.

The one thing all these analyses have in common is that they focus on higher-level decisionmaking. This emphasis is understandable given Clausewitz's concept that "[w]ar is a continuation of politics by other means." Failed strategy will never achieve political objectives whereas tactical-level failure may still result in strategic success if the strategy is sound. While the Long Commission and House Subcommittee's reports highlight the reality of terrorism at the tactical-level, most of the lessons learned about peacekeeping have been at higher levels. Small-unit tactical lessons about peacekeeping have received little to no attention.

Ironically, battalion-sized units are the most likely units to get involved in future peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, the latest developments in communications technology link tactical-level activities more closely than ever to the strategic-level as government, public, and military leaders see tactical-level developments at the same time. With the recent increase in peacekeeping operations, tactical lessons learned from past operations are receiving more and more attention. Unfortunately, at the tactical-level, the tendency is to over-simplify lessons learned from the USMNF and focus primarily on force protection.

As a result of this tendency and the previous high-level focus of analysis, many complex and subtle tactical lessons learned from the USMNF are being lost. The latest U. S. Army manual on the subject, FM 100-23 Peace Operations, uses seventeen "historical perspectives" to reinforce its points, but not one example is from the USMNF. While some of the lessons learned by the USMNF are in this manual, they are "disguised" as text appearing more like a list of "do's and don'ts." The USMNF experience in Beirut provides numerous examples that illustrate the "why" of peacekeeping, not just the "how."

Peacekeeping has some general principles, but every operation must accurately account for its own unique circumstances. The complexity, diversity, and unique characteristics of peacekeeping operations warrant detailed analysis to get an appreciation for the challenges facing peacekeepers. The Marines and commanders of the USMNF operated in a confusing environment under numerous restraints while executing a mission, which even today is not a primary mission nor fully understood. Over a period of eighteen months, thousands of decisions were made by four different MAU commanders, five different BLT commanders, and over 5,000 individual Marines and small-unit tactical leaders. Even though some decisions ultimately can be linked to the bombing of the BLT Headquarters, many good tactical-level decisions were made. The thought and rationale behind those decisions offer numerous lessons to future peacekeeping forces. Furthermore, while some decisions contributed to the loss of life and failure, those decisions were made with the thought that they were the best decisions given the situation and resources available at the time. Hindsight allows perfect judgment of past decisions. However, valuable lessons can be learned by analyzing decisions made by members of the USMNF with consideration for the situation as it existed at the time.

In all likelihood forward-deployed forces will be thrust into future peacekeeping roles. They will also be faced with making decisions in complex, unfamiliar situations. We can understand this dilemma by examining the thought process of those individuals tasked with the tactical-level decisions for the USMNF operations in Lebanon. This paper will examine the USMNF's tactical- level decisions and actions in Lebanon from 1982 to 1984 through critical analysis. It will examine if the MAUs participating in MNF peacekeeping operations were organized, trained, and equipped properly to conduct peacekeeping operations. It will examine the tactics and procedures used and evaluate their effectiveness. Finally, it will draw conclusions as to the feasibility of using forward-deployed or rapid-deployment combat forces in peacekeeping operations.

CHAPTER TWO: Setting the stage

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked into Lebanon on the first day of Operation Peace For Galilee. What was initially declared to be a limited offensive designed to create a buffer zone for the northern Israeli settlements soon turned into a siege of Beirut, a cosmopolitan city of over one-half million people. In its pursuit of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) tactical forces, Israel violated the sovereignty of Lebanon, engaged in major battles with Syria, and backed its quarry into a corner.

In general, from an Israeli perspective, the original motives for war justified the use of force. As the military operations took on a life of their, own regardless of what was briefed to or directed by the government, the Israeli people began to question the legitimacy of the operation especially as Israeli casualties began to rise. Operation Peace For Galilee soon became a complex quagmire creating problems between the military, government, and people comparable to the problems faced by the U. S. during its involvement in Vietnam.

The IDF faced a major dilemma. To continue the siege of Beirut meant increased casualties with no appreciable gain while simultaneously increasing domestic pressure against military operations. In addition to putting pressure on the PLO, the siege also placed extreme hardship on the Lebanese people. Civilian suffering increased international pressure against Israel. An attack into the city to destroy the PLO could result in enormous casualties to the IDF. Additionally, a physical assault would require extensive dismounted infantry troops, but the IDF was organized and equipped primarily for mechanized infantry and armored operations. To quit the siege or to not assault would cause Israel to fall well short of its original objectives.

The U. S. also faced a dilemma. Israel had always been considered an ally in an unstable region, which was traditionally hostile to the U. S. and its interests. However, the IDF invasion created an even more unstable environment that not only threatened the safety of U. S. citizens in Lebanon, but risked escalation into a major regional conflict. To intervene, the U. S. risked hurting its ally. To not intervene, the U. S. risked intervention by some other power and thereby suffer a loss of influence in the region.

An acceptable compromise was reached that promised to stabilize the situation. Lebanon asked the U. S., France, and Italy to provide a buffer between the IDF, Syrian forces, and the PLO so that the PLO could be safely evacuated through the port of Beirut. This would end the stalemate, save face for the PLO, and allow Israel to achieve its objective of security for its northern settlements. Before the MNF could evacuate the PLO, the numerous parties involved had to reach an agreement as to the terms of the operation. This condition was met on 20 August 1982.

On the same day the IDF launched its attack into Lebanon, an Amphibious Task Force (ATF) made up of Amphibious Squadron 4 (Phibron 4) and the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) entered the Mediterranean. Without time to conduct a face-to-face turnover with the 34th MAU, the unit it was relieving, the 32d MAU was ordered directly to modified location (MODLOC) 100 miles off the coast of Beirut.

On 24 June 1982 the 32d MAU evacuated 581 civilians from Juniyah, Lebanon in a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO). After the NEO, the ATF returned to MODLOC in anticipation of further operations ashore. While some ships rotated to ports for maintenance, others remained just offshore. Finally, when it became more certain Marines were needed and at the request of the Ambassador, the MAU sent a liaison party ashore lead by Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Johnston, Commanding Officer of BLT 2/8. The ATF ships assumed MODLOC on 16 August and prepared for another mission. The 32d MAU landed a 800 man contingent in Beirut on 25 August 1982 as part of a multinational force to oversee the evacuation of the PLO guerrillas. Upon successfully completing its mission, the ATF departed for Naples on 10 September 1982.

With the task complete, the ATF relaxed its alert status and began much needed maintenance on its ships. A series of unexpected events unfolded soon after the ATF arrived in Naples. On 22 September 1982, the ATF began its return to Beirut because of the assassination of Bashir Gemeyal, the recently elected President of Lebanon, and the Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camp massacres. The mission assigned to USCINCEUR by JCS and then ultimately to the ATF was:

To 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 retrograde operations as required.

This mission remained in effect until 23 October 1983.

While the 32d MAU evacuated the PLO, the 24th MAU, a similarly sized and equipped unit, departed the U. S. on 24 August 1982 and conducted two amphibious training exercises en route to Beirut. It relieved the 32d MAU on 1 November 1982. The 24th MAU took up the same positions as the 32d MAU but extended its presence in Beirut to the eastern sector of the city by patrolling the "Green Line." Additionally, Marines commenced training air assault units from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on 13 December 1992.

The 32d MAU, which had just been relieved, arrived in the U. S. on 24 November and was redesignated the 22d MAU. The MAU headquarters changed some key personnel, most notably the Executive Officer and Operations Officer (S-3), but Colonel Mead remained the MAU Commander. In addition to changing personnel in the headquarters staff, the MAU received operational control (OPCON) over three entirely new subordinate elements. The key point is that none of the major subordinate elements (MSEs) of the 22d MAU had worked with each other until 24 November 1982, which was just barely 60 days before the MAU's next deployment. After a two-week leave period, a brief work-up, and transit, the 22d MAU arrived in Lebanon to relieve 24th MAU on 15 February 1983.

The 22d MAU continued the expanded patrolling of 24th MAU and continued to improve the survivability and habitability of positions around the airport. During Colonel Mead's second tour in Lebanon, the environment started to change for the USMNF. First, during a routine dismounted foot patrol on 16 March 1983, five Marines were wounded by a grenade. On 18 April 1983, a car bomb exploded destroying the U. S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, of which 17 were Americans, and wounding 100 others. As a direct result of the bombing, the mission of the USMNF expanded to include providing security for the temporary U. S. Embassy, which was housed in the Duraford Building and the British Embassy.

On 30 May 1983, 24th MAU (this time under the command of Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty), relieved 22d MAU. The 24th MAU continued the mission of the previous MAUs occupying the same positions and carrying out the same types of activities. The 24th MAU's patrols differed from those of its predecessors because they included an LAF fireteam with its squad-sized Marine patrols.

Around the same time as the changeover between the 22d and 24th MAUs, Israel had signed an agreement on 17 May 1983 with the government of Lebanon (GOL) stating it would withdraw its forces south of the Awali River. This agreement was signed without consulting Syria or the numerous factions surrounding Beirut. On 4 September 1983, the IDF started its withdrawal.

Increased incidents of indirect fire around Marine positions began on 22 July as the IDF prepared to withdraw. By 22 October, Marine casualties totaled seven killed and 64 wounded as a result of direct and indirect fire weapons. In response to the increased threat, Marines had ceased patrolling and begun to respond more aggressively progressing from direct-fire weapons, to mortars, to 155mm artillery and naval gunfire. Not only did naval gunfire support Marine positions around the Beirut International Airport (BIA), Colonel Geraghty was ordered to use naval gunfire to directly support the LAF engaged with Druze militia in Suq Al Gharb on 19 September 1983. The neutrality of U. S. ground forces, already in question, now had clearly been lost.

On 23 October 1983, a truck bomb, described earlier, exploded in BLT 1/8's headquarters killing 241 Marines and sailors. Although no new mission was formally assigned to the 24th MAU, this event marked a major change in the way Marines operated in Lebanon with survivability taking precedence over presence. Extraordinary effort was made to disperse units to protect against potential follow-on terrorist acts, but lack of resources and lack of protection against indirect fire slowed down this effort.

On 19 November 1983, the 22d MAU relieved the 24th MAU. En route to Beirut, the 22d MAU had participated in combat operations in Grenada. During Operation Urgent Fury, the 22d MAU conducted amphibious assaults, conventional combat, and evacuation operations. While operating in Grenada, the MAU was commanded by Colonel Faulkner, who like Colonel Geraghty, was deploying to Beirut for the first time. However, when the 22d MAU arrived in Lebanon, Brigadier General Jim R. Joy assumed command of the MAU and was designated Commander U. S. Forces Ashore Lebanon. Colonel Faulkner assumed the Chief of Staff position for what now was essentially a brigade staff. The two reasons most often given for this change are: (1) the other contingencies were commanded by generals and so a U. S. general was needed for representation, and (2) a general along with a larger staff was required given the increase in external support.

Additionally, the 22d MAU received a clearer mission. Because the Long Commission determined that the previous MAUs had perceived the maintenance of an operational airport in Lebanon as an implied task, the 22d MAU was given a clearly specified task to defend its positions. The focus of 22d MAU's mission changed from presence to defense. Increased engineer support arrived, and strong combat-oriented defensive positions were built. By 5 January 1984, every USMNF member had his own bunker for living and working. Even though the Marines had good protection, the bulk of the 22d MAU was withdrawn to amphibious shipping on 26 February 1984. The withdrawal from BIA marked the end of the USMNF's military "presence" in Lebanon. The only significant force from the MAU remaining ashore was at the British Embassy and Duraford Building providing security for the U. S. Ambassador. However, this was a security force, not a peacekeeping force.

Using this chronology, the major events affecting the USMNF can be grouped several ways. Benis Franks, in his history of U. S. Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984, organizes his chapters based on MAU rotations and refers to them as Beirut I through VI. Table 1 below offers another way to look at Marine operations. The phases are based on external events.

The USMNF Phases






24 June 82

25 Aug- 10 Sep 82


Evacuation of PLO

32d MAU (Col Mead)


29 Sep- 30 Oct 82


1 Nov 82- 15 Feb 83

15 Feb- 29 May 83

30 May- 3 Sep 83

Interposition between IDF and Beirut citizens

Patrolling/LAF training

Terrorist attack US embassy

Combined patrolling

32d MAU (Col Mead)


24th MAU (Col Stokes)

22d MAU (Col Mead)

24th MAU (Col Geraghty)


4 Sep - 23 Oct 83 IDF withdrawal, NGF support Terrorist bombing of BLT HQs 24th MAU (Col Geraghty)



24 Oct - 18 Nov 83

19 Nov - 26 Feb 84

Rescue ops, aggressive self- defense, position hardening


24th MAU (Col Geraghty)

22d MAU (Col Faulkner)


Table 1

Analysis of Table 1 shows some interesting relationships. Phase 1, also known as MNF I, was an operation in itself. Its operational objectives were fairly clear and were successfully accomplished over a relatively short period. Because it occurred over a short period, Phase 1 involved only one U. S. tactical unit, the 32d MAU led by Colonel Mead. Even though MNF I involved diplomatic and military action, the military part of this operation received nothing but praise. Therefore, any influence tactical-level actions had on the overall success of MNF I can be attributed to one tactical unit, the 32d MAU.

Phases 2 and 3 are part of the same operation and shared the same mission and objectives. While failure occurred during Phase 3, tactical-level actions that may have influenced that failure cannot be attributed exclusively to one tactical unit. Four different tactical units operated in Lebanon during Phase 2. Phase 2 may or may not have influenced events in Phase 3. Therefore, critical analysis of tactical-level actions during both phases 2 and 3 is essential to identify potential linkage between the two phases.

Finally, Phase 4 involved two different units. The objectives of Phase 4 (survival and withdrawal) were clearly different from any of the other phases. Phases 2 and 3 may have determined the tactical environment in which forces were to operate during Phase 4, but the mission was not the same. In a symposium ten years after the BLT 1/8 headquarters bombing, Colonel Geraghty said, "[T]he mission changed, but no one changed the mission." In an interview with Benis Frank, Brigadier General Joy made a clear distinction between the original mission and the one he had been assigned when he said, "[T]he mission was changed to seize and defend vice seize and secure." Phase 4 may be useful to analyze what the forces had to do differently to survive, but clearly it was not the same "presence" mission of Phases 2 and 3. Therefore, Phases 1 through 3 will be examined to first determine if the USMNF's mission was peacekeeping, and if so how the tactical-level forces carried out that mission.

Was This Peacekeeping?

Although the mission statement cited earlier contained no mention of peacekeeping, the Long Commission found "the USMNF was implicitly characterized as a peacekeeping operation." The report cites that Presidential public statements, reports to Congress, and letters to the United Nation's Secretary-General contributed to this characterization. The report points out even the subject lines of the alert order and execute order read, "U. S. Force participation in Lebanon Multinational Force (MNF) Peacekeeping Operations. (Emphasis added)"

However, alert and execute orders were probably not seen by all of the USMNF. Additionally, their deployed status made access to Presidential statements, reports, and letters inaccessible to Marines, especially in the case of early deployed MAUs. Certainly not every individual was affected by these things to the same degree. The validity of the Long Commission statement must be checked to determine the actual extent Marines believed their mission was peacekeeping.

At the beginning of a Marine Corps Gazette article written by Colonel Mead explaining Marine Corps involvement in Lebanon, the editorial staff inserted the following subtitle: "The Commander's Overview of 32d MAU's Peacekeeping Operation." In the article, Colonel Mead describes how Marines cheered when they heard a special message from President Reagan that read in part as follows:

You are tasked to be once again what Marines have been for more than 200 years--peacemakers. Your role in the Multinational Force--along with that of your French and Italian counterparts--is crucial to achieving the peace that is so desperately needed in this long-tortured city.

At the end of his article, Colonel Mead summarizes the accomplishments of the 32d MAU during its deployment and writes, "We had learned what it was like to be a peacekeeper!" Clearly the MAU Commander saw the mission as peacekeeping. In this article, Colonel Mead also describes how the small units briefed and prepared before each of the three landings in Lebanon. Since Colonel Mead observed these briefs, a reasonable conclusion is that Marines discussed the nature of their mission in the same context as their MAU Commander. Therefore, we can assume that in the case of the first MAU that went ashore in Lebanon, the Marines associated their mission with peacekeeping.

Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU was the second MAU to participate in the USMNF. In an interview on 15 March 1983, Colonel Stokes never used the word "peacekeeping" to describe his unit's mission. He did describe his mission as being a stabilizing factor among the people of Lebanon, the IDF, the PLO, and the Syrians. Although he would not be the MAU Commander, he hoped, when the 24th MAU returned to Lebanon in two months, the foreign parties would be gone. The MAU could then expand its perimeter and provide stability among the various Lebanese factions, which he described as the "Hatfields and McCoys." While Colonel Stokes did not explicitly state that his mission was peacekeeping, he implicitly described a peacekeeping mission.

BLT 3/8 was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for Colonel Stokes' MAU. This unit's postdeployment report, written to Colonel Stokes, is peppered with the word "peacekeeping." The first sentence of this report reads, "The Beirut peacekeeping mission was certainly the highlight of the deployment." The remainder of the report goes on to describe the different activities conducted in Lebanon. Clearly, BLT 3/8 saw the mission as peacekeeping.

Since Colonel Mead returned to Beirut with the 22d MAU in February 1983, the Marines of this MAU most likely viewed the mission as peacekeeping as well. In a second Marine Corps Gazette article, Colonel Mead wrote, "The situation in Lebanon permeated everything that we did prior to departure." Colonel Mead's assessment of the attitudes of his Marines was that "[t]hey all wanted a chance to assist the Lebanese people in their search for peace and the regaining of sovereignty over all of Lebanon."

The Marine Corps Gazette is the professional journal of the United States Marine Corps. The Gazette is widely read and discussed by both officers and enlisted Marines. Certainly it would have captured the attention of Marines preparing to deploy to Lebanon. Therefore, a good assumption is that Colonel Mead's February 1983 article influenced most if not all Marines of the 24th MAU who replaced the 22d MAU in May 1983.

Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, Commanding Officer of the 24th MAU, also may have been influenced by how the two previous MAU Commanders, Colonels Mead and Stokes, saw the mission. He assumed command of the 24th MAU from Colonel Stokes before leaving for Lebanon and did a face-to-face turnover with Colonel Mead before assuming command of U. S. Forces Ashore Lebanon on 30 May 1983. In an interview conducted on 26 May 1983 he said,

Our commitment here is really a peacekeeping role. It is highly political with [the] diplomatic side and political side overshadowing the tactical side. It's a mission where we are providing a presence and that implies a visibility, a flexibility in order for us to assist the Lebanese government to regain their sovereignty.

At the small-unit level, in addition to what the average individual Marine was getting from his seniors, he was bombarded with the idea he was a peacekeeper. The nightly television news and local newspapers were filled with peacekeeping stories that would capture any Marine's attention as he was about to deploy. This was especially true around the time of major events such as the bombing of the U. S. Embassy.

Even while deployed, the MAU's unofficial newspaper published by the Public Affairs Office had a masthead that read, "ROOT SCOOP, Serving the men of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, U. S. Peacekeepers, Beirut." In addition to the perhaps subtle message of its masthead, the ROOT SCOOP frequently contained cartoons from U. S. newspapers depicting the dilemma of "peacekeepers" subjected to "stray" rounds. A Marine was likely to read these cartoons especially if he was feeling frustration over what he could and could not do in return to the incoming fire. The message was loud and clear; Marines were considered peacekeepers even if they were getting shot at or if they were shooting back.

What Was Peacekeeping?

Clearly the MAU Commanders and their Marines thought the mission was peacekeeping. We must now look at what was known about this type of mission at the time. Quite simply, not much was known. The reason for this lack of knowledge is not because peacekeeping was entirely new. The UN had participated or was participating in at least twelve peacekeeping operations with the first one starting in 1947. Additionally, the U. S. had just begun the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), a non-UN sponsored peacekeeping mission in the Sinai, in April 1982 as part of a treaty the U. S. had worked out between Israel and Egypt.

The problem was peacekeeping doctrine had not been formalized. Although several studies had been conducted by prestigious organizations such as the Brookings Institute and the International Peace Academy, no general consensus existed that the doctrine these organizations proposed was valid. Regardless of whether or not the U. S. agreed totally or in part, several of these studies offer some very good advice on peacekeeping to a wide audience ranging from the individual soldier to the most senior national-level decisionmaker. When developing the concept for the MFO operations in the Sinai, UN peacekeeping tactics and procedures from previous operations became the model even though MFO was not a UN sponsored mission.

Not until very recently has the term "peacekeeping" been precisely defined. The studies completed by 1982 did recognize "peacekeeping" as meaning different things to different countries depending on which country was using the term. They also recognized that some countries, especially those which had considerable military power, did not necessarily subscribe to the same concepts envisioned by the UN concerning the use of force and coercion during peacekeeping operations. If force were involved, most senior-level UN decisionmakers, who had extensive experience in peacekeeping, agreed the mission was not peacekeeping. While no specific terms were used to differentiate operations using varying levels of force, a clear distinction was made between peacekeeping (no force) and enforcement operations (some force).

Three notable figures in UN peacekeeping; Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle, and Bjorn Egge, authored a book in which they explained the tactics of peacekeeping. The authors eloquently address the skepticism and arguments against peacekeeping. One concept in particular, the absolute minimum use of force and only in self-defense, received a lot of criticism. They concluded only through measures less than force, could peacekeepers create conditions that were more likely to let diplomatic measures work. In their book A Thin Blue Line, the authors state,

The "weapons" of the peacekeeper in achieving his objectives are those of negotiation, mediation, quiet diplomacy and reasoning, tact and the patience of a JOB--not the self-loading rifle.

The basic peacekeeping tactic of the time (a tactic known as interposition) was to establish a neutral third party between two hostile parties. This third party monitored agreements; reported and investigated gunfire, unusual movements, digging and improvements in fortifications, and any other suspicious activities. Peacekeepers were a deterrent because neither of the hostile parties wanted to shoot at the UN, nor did they want to be charged with aggression.

From this tactic and the theory of how it works, several key requirements at the tactical-level stand out. All writers at the time would have agreed the most important requirement was the third party must be perceived as impartial. Impartiality once lost makes the third party entirely ineffective because of lost trust, confidence, and respect on the part of one or both sides. Impartiality is fragile. Frequently the peacekeeper is referred to as the "referee." As such, he must assess blame fairly. A popular saying is that if a peacekeeping force is unpopular with both sides at the same time, then it is carrying out its duties objectively and with impartiality.

There are numerous examples of how third parties lose their impartial status because of simple things such as cultural differences, language misunderstandings, or past histories that conflict with one of the involved party's ideas of impartiality and acceptability. In most cases, the loss of impartiality results in the removal of the third party from the peacekeeping operation. Sometimes this removal involves only individuals while at other times entire contingents. As can be imagined, the difficulty and cost associated with sending an entire battalion-sized contingent home can be staggering. The concept of impartiality was well documented, and we can assume common knowledge by September 1982.

Another very clear point is that the peacekeeping force must be accepted by all hostile parties involved in the conflict. Unlike the first requirement, which focuses on the peacekeeping force, this requirement focuses on the hostile parties. Larry Fabian of the Brookings Institution explains the second requirement this way: "[T]he peacekeeping system can function effectively only if the disputants show at least a modicum of cooperation by voluntarily respecting a certain threshold of compliance." They must want to stop fighting. If the parties want to stop fighting, why do we need peacekeepers? Most often lack of trust prevents parties from stopping the fight. A third party provides assurances that treaties will be followed and neither side will gain an advantage by secretly violating terms of the treaty. Fabian describes the relationship between peacekeepers and disputants "like a partnership, conceived for limited purposes and based on equally limited common ends. Peacekeepers are agents not only of the international community but also, in a sense, of the parties themselves."

A third requirement of peacekeeping is the absolute minimum use of force. Since peacekeeping is normally carried out by military forces which have been trained for war, this requirement can cause some discomfort and seem illogical. The soldier's natural tendency is to use force or threat of force to achieve a desired result. Major General Rikhye argues that this tendency is exactly opposite the correct attitude required in peacekeeping. He writes, "[W]ithout the correct attitude and approach on the part of the third party, the chances of the intervention remaining peaceful becomes unlikely." Larry Fabian dispels the popular thought that more arms in peacekeeping are better because of the greater capacity to impose punishment. He uses UN peacekeeping operations in Cypress as an example to show the exact opposite is true. Any use of force whether actual force, coercion, or too forceful persuasion will lead to the perception the third party is not neutral but rather an adversary.

Care must be taken in defining force. There are different types of force: armed and unarmed. Most soldiers can easily identify armed force. Unarmed force is more subtle. It includes "the use of barricades, manhandling, the use of heavy equipment to remove obstacles and the use of tear gas." The use of unarmed force is still the use of force.

Self-defense, although a permissible use of force, must be carefully defined. During early UN operations, self-defense meant: (1) defense of UN posts, premises, and vehicles under armed attack, and (2) the support of other personnel of the UN force under attack. As UN operations became more complex, self-defense had to be adapted and not just limited to defense against unprovoked attack. For example, in Cypress, force was authorized to prevent "attempts by force to prevent [UNFICYP soldiers] from carrying out their responsibilities as ordered by their commanders." In the Congo, where UN forces actually faced mercenaries in the Katanga phase, rules of engagement had to evolve to provide for a more proactive use of force in self- defense. Self-defense expanded to include the use of conventional artillery and even air defense weapons. Care must be taken not to lose sight of the original concept of minimum use of force. The general rule is force only in self-defense, and when no longer threatened, force is no longer authorized.

While most of the existing literature in 1982 addressed peacekeeping at the very high level, a considerable amount of information addressing small-unit and individual peacekeeping requirements was embedded between the pages of high-level discussion. Former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold said, "Peacekeeping is not a job for soldiers, but only a soldier can do it." Major General Rikhye felt soldiering skill was a valuable asset, but it is not the only required peacekeeping attribute. Furthermore, essential peacekeeping attributes are not found in any military textbook. In his book, he spends twelve pages describing how soldiers need to be trained in the proper attitude, approach, use of language, cultural awareness, and properly prepared for environmental adaptation. He discusses the use of professional soldier versus nonprofessional and gives the advantages of using each type. He addresses the differences in officer observers and tactical peacekeeping forces. His analysis is very detailed and addresses the many nuances of peacekeeping that would probably go unnoticed by those inexperienced in peacekeeping. In his discussions, he goes to considerable length to describe how improper individual preparation can adversely affect the entire peacekeeping force. General Rikhye understood how closely the tactical-level is linked to the strategic-level in peacekeeping operations.

Charles Moskos studied the many different variables affecting the individual peacekeeping soldier to determine if one type of soldier was better suited for peacekeeping than others. His basic conclusion was proper training and time on the job make good peacekeepers. In the process of arriving at this conclusion, he provides a valuable perspective concerning the requirements on individual soldiers and offers many valuable peacekeeping vignettes with associated lessons. At the higher tactical level, Major General Carl von Horn published a book on his personal experience with peacekeeping during three major UN operations. His book addresses the conflict between military and political requirements. While his book offers no prescription for peacekeeping, it does offer valuable insight on the moral dilemma often created by political decisions that may endanger tactical forces.

Other literature at the time discussed issues such as superpower involvement in peacekeeping, UN sanctioned versus unilateral action, and intelligence; but these issues concern decisionmaking levels beyond the scope of this analysis. Additionally, insufficient intelligence support is one of the major issues highlighted by the Long Commission's report, and the problem was fixed before the final departure of the USMNF. This study will focus on lessons not previously learned.

The point of the above discussion is to show the existing documented knowledge concerning peacekeeping at the time the USMNF was committed in Lebanon. Clearly peacekeeping tactics had been developed and were studied by U. S. forces involved in other peacekeeping operations. However, the body of knowledge was contained in scholarly texts not military manuals.

Having described the extent to which basic peacekeeping theory was developed in 1982, we now have a theoretical model. We can use this model to compare actual tactics used by the USMNF to the tactics we would expect them to use through the application of theory.


As described earlier, MNF I was a relatively short operation running from 25 August to 10 September 1982. The Multinational Force consisted of U. S., French, and Italian forces. The 32d MAU was the USMNF contingent during the evacuation of the PLO through the port of Beirut. After much debate concerning how the USMNF would be used, USCINCEUR finalized the mission to:

Support Ambassador Habib and the MNF committee in their efforts to have PLO members evacuated from the Beirut area; occupy and secure the port of Beirut in conjunction with the Lebanese Armed Forces; maintain close and continuous contact with other MNF members; and be prepared to withdraw on order.

To carry out its mission, the 32d MAU established security with BLT 2/8 and control with a headquarters cell, which coordinated both internally and externally to the MAU. Internal coordination involved positioning the security force, recording the outflow of PLO, and maintaining support of forces ashore. External coordination involved liaison with the LAF, IDF, other MNF members ashore, and the U. S. Department of State.

The MAU was limited by diplomatic agreement to 800 personnel ashore. The Aviation Combat Element (ACE) remained afloat and played an important role shuttling diplomats and providing transportation for logistical support. Most support services remained sea-based, but some personnel from the MAU Service Support Group (MSSG) did land and carried out administrative functions during the evacuation and established limited supplies ashore. The Preventative Medicine Unit (PMU) carried out one of the most important duties by certifying buildings as safe, establishing sanitation facilities ashore, and improving habitability.

BLT 2/8 established security for the port by positioning two rifle companies in a perimeter and controlling the entrance to the port with a manned checkpoint. Lieutenant Colonel Johnston kept a third rifle company off the perimeter and centrally located to act as an internal security and reaction force. At the entrance to the port, Echo Company, commanded by Captain McCabe, manned a squad-sized checkpoint in conjunction with French and LAF forces. The operations of the perimeter and checkpoint were designed to satisfy the agreements reached between all parties in Lebanon. The most important agreements were between the Israelis and the PLO.

The PLO forces were widely dispersed throughout West Beirut. The IDF had pushed into East Beirut but stopped just before entering West Beirut along the Sidon Road, which had traditionally separated Muslim West Beirut from Christian East Beirut. During the Lebanese Civil War, the Sidon Road was a well-known divider and was called the "Green Line." The port lay at the northern most point of the Green Line. Because of its central location with respect to the dividing line, the port was within view of the IDF in East Beirut. The IDF was able to monitor activity inside the port from several tall buildings, which surrounded the facility.

The MNF interposed itself between forces to keep the Israelis from attacking the PLO as they were evacuated. The French contingent manned positions along the Green Line. The Italian contingent escorted elements from the Syrian Army from West Beirut through IDF lines to the Bakaa Valley. The USMNF interposed forces around the port to prevent the IDF from attacking the PLO when they were most vulnerable, after they had given up their arms and were concentrated in the relatively small confines of the port.

The Israelis agreed to the evacuation of the PLO under certain conditions. The most important of which was that the PLO could not keep their heavy weapons. The government of Lebanon made the LAF responsible for inspecting PLO forces as they evacuated to make sure this part of the agreement was carried out. However, the IDF wanted more certainty, and so while the U. S. did not actually disarm the PLO, the USMNF was charged with verifying compliance with the disarmament agreement. The PLO was wary of concentrating in one location. In addition to verifying disarmament for the IDF, the positioning of the USMNF between the IDF and the PLO assured no harm would come to the PLO. The USMNF was carrying out all the tasks normally associated with peacekeeping as discussed earlier.

One of the key aspects of the USMNF was the operation of checkpoint 54, the combined U. S., French, and LAF checkpoint at the port entrance. When trucks carrying the PLO arrived at the port, they were allowed to enter inside the perimeter but then were stopped for search. The Marine squad physically positioned itself in front of the truck stretching across the road to prevent the truck from going any farther. The LAF inspected the truck for heavy weapons and when found clear would signal to the Marine squad. The squad would move aside, the truck would move inside the port and off load its PLO passengers. The passengers moved by a loading point, staged their personal weapons and then got on the ship.

The Israelis had positions that overlooked the port. In one particular building, the IDF had set up an observation point, which contained just about every kind of electronic surveillance equipment available, to include high power cameras to film the faces of every PLO fighter leaving Lebanon. The IDF watched the departure of the PLO and whenever they observed something that they felt violated the terms of the agreement (which was frequent), they contacted the USMNF and the truck would be reinspected. Until reinspection was carried out, the Israelis blocked the departure and arrival of ships just outside the port.

To appreciate the difficult nature of the mission assigned to the USMNF, one must remember the evacuation was being conducted after three months of fighting between the IDF and PLO. Additionally, the hatred between the two parties can be traced back to the beginning of Israel in 1948. The setting of the evacuation was in a city that had been the scene of six years of fighting in a civil war. The area around the port saw the most intense fighting because it marked the dividing line between warring sides. Martyr Square, the scene of the heaviest fighting during the civil war, was just south of the port. Pictures of the square taken in 1982 look more like a scene from World War II. The PLO, which was portrayed as a scraggly terrorist organization by the American press, led to wide and varied speculation on the terrorist threat. To add to the confusion was the fact the PLO arrived for the evacuation wearing new uniforms, were freshly shaven and had haircuts. Even though the PLO fighters were fairly well disciplined, they had the peculiar custom of firing their weapons into the air on full automatic to celebrate "victory" creating an unnerving if not dangerous situation. When put in this context, the true nature and complexity of the mission can be better understood.

Peacekeeping Training

What type of training did the USMNF have before the evacuation of the PLO to prepare them for this unusual mission? Since the bulk of personnel on the ground was from BLT 2/8, the training of that unit will be examined.

BLT 2/8's postdeployment report starts out with the words:

During the predeployment period, the BLT's tempo of operations was high, and when coupled with the many CEP's [Command Evaluation Program] and inspections, it could be said that too much was being done in too short a time.

The chronology of events shows a quick-paced schedule that started when BLT 2/8 returned from a six month deployment on 1 July 1981 and lasted until the battalion started its current deployment on 25 May 1982. In less than one year, the battalion reorganized, assumed a follow-on and primary air-alert-force responsibility, and stood a Commanding General's inspection. Additionally, it served as an aggressor force for another battalion's Combat Readiness Evaluation (CRE), and was evaluated itself on crew-served weapons. The major unit exercises went just before deployment when the battalion conducted a week-long Fire Support Coordination Exercise and a two-week Mech Counter-Mech training exercise at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

The postdeployment report does point out that the battalion's individual companies spent 12-15 days in the field each month during which they spent time on squad, platoon, and company tactics with emphasis on non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), mechanized warfare, and night operations. However, with the exception of the NEO training, which was done only at the company-level and below, most of BLT 2/8's training focused on conventional combat operations.

The company-level NEO training would certainly have assisted in evacuating the American citizens from Lebanon on 25 and 26 June 1982, but BLT 2/8 remained on ship during this evacuation. The MSSG, which also stayed on ship, provided the evacuation control center (ECC). While some of the concepts and techniques used in a NEO would still apply to the evacuation of the PLO, the amount of attention NEO actually received during predeployment training is not certain.

BLT 2/8's Command Chronology goes into detail concerning other training exercises and evaluations conducted before deployment, but briefly mentions NEO training at the company level. This lack of detail indicates the battalion probably did not stress NEO as much as other types of training such as NBC operations. Furthermore, since this training was conducted at the company-level and in the field, there is a good chance that the quality of training varied from company to company. The battalion had a good idea of its proficiency in marksmanship, NBC, crew-served weapons, and fire support coordination because it had undergone external evaluations in all these areas. However, it had no similar feedback on contingency operations such as NEO.

In conclusion, while BLT 2/8 had trained in many areas over a short period of time concentrating on conventional operations, it probably had not conducted too much training on NEO before deployment. No mention was made about peacekeeping training in either the command chronology or the postdeployment report. Therefore, the majority of BLT 2/8's training in this area had to come while Marines were embarked on ship moving to the contingency site.

This point is supported by the Operations and Training section of BLT 2/8's postdeployment report. In the general summary, the report states, "Deployment training was predominately mission oriented and specifically driven by the three contingency operations." Some of the specific subjects of training were NEO, military operations on urban terrain, and troop familiarization with the areas of operation. Finally, the report goes on to say actual participation in the three contingencies was in itself a form of training in such areas as motorized patrolling, sandbag position building, and laying barbed wire.

Of most interest is a total omission of training on the requirements of peacekeeping. This omission may be for two reasons. First, peacekeeping training may not have been mentioned because BLT 2/8 considered the evacuation of the PLO as so similar to a NEO that it deserved no special mention. A second reason might be that while the 32d MAU could foresee a NEO before deployment, they had not considered evacuating the PLO or any other form of peacekeeping as a likely mission.

From Colonel Mead's article in the Marine Corps Gazette published after 32d MAU returned from Lebanon, the latter seems the most likely. When the 32d MAU was placed in MODLOC off the Lebanese coast, the most likely mission appeared to be a NEO. The MAU had prepared ahead for a NEO and had a working file on that type operation. In addition to an established SOP, the file had old Marine Corps Gazette articles written about Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind. During two different interviews, the 32d MAU's Operations Officer and MSSG 32's Commanding Officer mention a Fort Leavenworth study on the 1958 Lebanon crisis, which also involved an evacuation. Both officers mentioned how helpful this study had been and were able to cite the dysentery rate for U. S. forces during the 1958 crisis. They were very proud that as a result of using this study the dysentery rate of the 32d MAU was lower in Beirut than it was for the MAU during liberty in Naples, Italy. The point of this discussion is to show the 32d MAU did most of its specific training for the contingency operations while in MODLOC. The MAU had written procedures and historical studies on NEO operations. These assets probably contributed to the successful NEO on 25 June 1982 and to the low dysentery rate while operating in Lebanon.

However, considering the amount of written material on peacekeeping operations and its format, planning for the evacuation of the PLO while on ship was probably done with little formal guidelines. The 32d MAU departed North Carolina on 25 May. The MAU was ordered to MODLOC "unexpectedly" on 7 June, and to standby for the PLO evacuation mission on 16 August. While a fairly significant amount was written on peacekeeping operations, it was not in any military manuals in 1982. Therefore written procedures and historical studies were probably not available to the 32d MAU before landing in Beirut on 25 August 1982.

This assumption seems valid since individuals discussed how helpful historical studies of NEOs had been, but make no mention how studies on peacekeeping had helped carry out the PLO evacuation. Therefore, it can also be concluded whatever Marines knew about peacekeeping operations when committed on 25 August came from an intuitive appreciation of the situation, rather than from in-depth study or mastery of the subject.


Given the lack of specialized peacekeeping training, MNF I went surprisingly well. The 32d MAU won high praise for the part it played especially given the unique and highly volatile nature of the environment. Some specific incidents and statements show the Marines had a correct appreciation for the situation and acted accordingly.

First, Colonel Mead felt large weapon systems such as tanks and artillery may have an adverse effect on the Syrians and PLO. Therefore, the forces that went ashore were lightly armed. Also, the Marines that went ashore did not put magazines in their weapons. As explained by Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship, the no magazine decision was a deliberate decision that was designed to show the LAF, who was responsible for the security of U. S. forces, the Marines trusted them. The BLT Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Johnston also stated magazines were not inserted, but at critical times designated marksmen did have loaded weapons and were ready to engage targets if necessary.

The use of designated marksmen suggests the tactical-level commanders clearly understood the peacekeeping principle of minimum use of force but at the same time had a clear appreciation for the danger of an external threat. The responsibility for designated marksmen would be well known among the Marines; however, from outside the unit, the designated marksmen would appear like every other Marine. Since twelve out of thirteen Marines had their magazines removed, the threat of force was well concealed.

The rules of engagement (ROE) were designed to clearly explain and guide the use of force. Marines were authorized to use force in self-defense, but some leaders had a great concern over how they would react on the ground. Because of their importance, the ROE were memorized and drilled rigorously, the same way a Marine would be tested on his general orders. While the drilling and memorization were good, it was only the first step. Marines could not anticipate every action that might threaten their safety during the evacuation. Instead of straight memorization of the ROE, Marines needed to develop judgment concerning their use. Situational exercises were used, but with questionable effectiveness.

In one interview, an officer gave an example of a situation explaining how Marines learned the ROE. The example went something like this: "If a guy shoots at you and you feel it is directed fire and what not, then use minimal force necessary to take care of the situation. If he is shooting at you with small arms, you can return the fire with small arms and so forth." This example is not a good one for situational training since: (1) it provides a situation with no "gray area," and (2) it addresses only one response. In an attempt to keep the ROE simple, the situations Marines may have faced were over simplified.

While tactical-level leaders recognized the importance of understanding the ROE and knew situational training was a good means to develop judgment, this example suggests they lacked the experience to create realistic examples of what types of situations Marines might face. Unlike conventional combat operations for which BLT 2/8 had trained and been evaluated on, they had never trained for peacekeeping operations. Since they had no training and no standards to compare their performance with, they had to make up their own standards. Because they had no examples of peacekeeping operations, they had no certainty the procedures and standards they had developed were correct.

Despite this lack of certainty, numerous examples of good judgment exist. One example involves the turnover of the port from the French to the USMNF control. While going into port on landing craft, the Marines saw the French flag flying above the port. When the Marines arrived and assumed responsibility for the port, the first thing they did was strike the French flag and raise the Lebanese national colors. Given that one of the most famous images of Marines is the American flag raising at Iwo Jima, raising the Lebanese flag seems ironic. To not automatically raise the American flag shows deliberate forethought that took into account the mission and situation.

This incident reveals outstanding judgment; however, was this action deliberate or just a coincidence? Colonel Mead tries not to make too much of this incident in his article, but his Operations Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship, who was in the boat with him at the time the French flag was first sighted (along with about 100 other Marines), views the incident differently. In an interview, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship explains that Colonel Mead used the French flag sighting as an opportunity to make a point to Marines on the landing craft. Colonel Mead made sure Marines understood that the flag represented colonialism and arrogance to the Lebanese. Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship also noted that the raising of the Lebanese flag by U. S. Marines did not go unnoticed by journalists, both Lebanese and foreign alike.

Other examples show that even though Marines did not receive extensive specialized training, they could carry out the peacekeeping mission. The next example occurred at checkpoint 54, the entrance to the port. The USMNF anticipated the arrival of Yassir Arafat around 1100 on 30 August. Everything was going as planned when Arafat arrived unexpectedly at 1000. Not only had he arrived early, but French vehicles along with French Ambassador Henri were positioned in front and behind Arafat's vehicle. As soon as the crowd outside the port, a mix of local civilians and media realized Arafat was in the center vehicle they started to cheer and tried to surround Arafat. The Marines at the checkpoint had distinct orders about not letting vehicles other than the PLO through the checkpoint because earlier the simultaneous arrival of French, Italian, and PLO at the port had caused problems. The perimeter security was in danger of being breached. Fortunately Colonel Mead and Lieutenant Colonel Johnston arrived on the scene. The two most senior officers organized the Marines to push the crowd back and Lieutenant Colonel Johnston directed the lead French vehicles through and off to the side. With the route open, the vehicle carrying Arafat could drive inside.

The potential for Arafat to be assassinated in the confusion was high. The presence of the two senior commanders narrowly avoided a catastrophe. While the Marines were doing exactly as they were told, they were not doing what should have been done. Had they realized all the implications of refusing access, quite possibly they would have acted differently. Even Lieutenant Colonel Johnston delayed making a decision until he checked with the diplomatic chain to determine if the French had been approved access. He was reluctant to yield to the French because it appeared as if they were saying Arafat needed their security despite the security provided by Marines. However, when he did make a decision, he kept the situation from taking another turn for the worse by quietly waving the French vehicles off to the side keeping them from mixing with other forces inside the perimeter.

This event ended the way it did because the senior leaders were at the point of crisis at the right time. Part of the reason they were on the scene was they identified the arrival of Arafat as a critical event. However, when Arafat arrived early and the French acted unexpectedly, it created a situation for which the Marines lacked the highly developed judgment required to disobey their task in order to satisfy the purpose of their task. If a similar situation developed when key leaders were not close to the scene, the results could have turned out quite differently.

This event also raises another point. Part of the mission statement read, "[M]aintain close and continuous contact with other MNF members." How could the French arrive unexpectedly? No central command had been established. Even though liaison officers had been exchanged, their effectiveness is questionable because individuals were not specially trained for liaison duty. Therefore, when a problem came up, Lieutenant Colonel Johnston did not check with his liaison party but went through the State Department over hand-held radio. This lack of trained liaison teams created an awkward communications path from one military force through a civilian agency to another military force. Difficulties translating not only from French to English but from civilian to military terminology created relay delays at a time all members of the MNF needed to be working together closely.

Another difficulty the 32d MAU had was appearing to be neutral. A key requirement of peacekeeping is to remain impartial, but, possibly, Marines could be used by either the IDF or the PLO to gain political advantage. Although the Marines were a highly disciplined unit, they could be manipulated or tricked into not being neutral in many ways. One way to prevent them from being manipulated was to prohibit direct communications with the IDF or the PLO. All communications were to be done through the LAF, with whom the Marines were allowed to talk. This way, in theory, Marines could not be manipulated by either side.

While this prohibition may appear to be a good solution to the problem, it severely handicapped the Marines, especially in situations requiring quick reaction. In effect, the ROE and the no-talk policy took decisionmaking responsibility away from the small units and placed it at the highest tactical-level or even some times at the diplomatic level. Marines had to carry out their duties exactly as tasked instead of in accordance with an overarching intent. One example has already been given to show how rigid adherence to orders can be dangerous. Given the many different situations that could face the individual peacekeeper, the policy of centralized negotiating authority goes against what was stated in Chapter Two about the weapons of peacekeepers being "negotiation, mediation, quiet diplomacy...not the self-loading rifle."

However, this next example shows why centralized negotiation may have been justified and prudent. As stated earlier, the IDF overwatched the entire evacuation from the buildings surrounding the port. The MAU headquarters did have direct communications with the IDF, who would frequently call with complaints about prohibited weapons passing through checkpoint 54. When they complained, the Israelis would also block the flow of traffic coming into or out of the port, and the evacuation got seriously disrupted.

The communications net was manned by Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship, the 32d MAU Operations Officer. In an interview, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship commented that he got quite frustrated with the Israelis constantly calling to complain (usually inaccurately) about weapons getting on the ship. He went on to say how perturbed he became at the Israeli officer on the other end of the line because the Israeli was only a captain and knew he was talking to a lieutenant colonel. Still, the Israeli was demanding and disrespectful. Finally, Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship told the Israeli captain he was turning the handset over to a lance corporal clerk who would relay the Israeli complaints.

Lieutenant Colonel Blankenship was very clever and avoided being manipulated through his anger. However, this example shows how easy the Israelis could bring out anger by understanding American military culture. Most likely the abruptness and disrespect were deliberate to show Israel does not respond passively to every wish of the United States. The fact that they were able to anger a relatively senior and experienced officer is evidence that the Israelis were masters of manipulation. Thomas Friedman, in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, makes a similar observation concerning Middle East culture in general. Western culture, which is very direct, is extremely vulnerable to a culture that for thousands of years has practiced the indirect. Had a less experienced individual been angered by the Israelis, he might not have been as clever in diffusing the situation.

The dilemma for Marines in Lebanon was that they had to deal with parties whose culture they knew nothing about. These parties, however, understood American culture very well. In this context the no-talk policy begins to make sense. Still, the policy was far from the ideal policy. In an ideal world, the policy would have allowed Marines to talk to the PLO and IDF when needed to carry out their mission, but also Marines would have been culturally savvy and knowledgeable on peacekeeping to avoid showing favoritism. The only way to make Marines culturally aware is through training and education. At the time of the Beirut contingency, the 32d MAU could not carry out that training to the required degree.

Chapter Four: MNF II

MNF II lasted longer than MNF I. Although 32d MAU was the first MAU to go ashore, four different MAUs occupied the ground during MNF II. As discussed in Chapter Two, MNF II can be broken into three phases: (1) initial landing to Israeli withdrawal, (2) Israeli withdrawal to BLT 1/8 headquarters bombing, and (3) headquarters bombing to withdrawal of U. S. forces.

This chapter will analyze the first and second phases above because the return of the USMNF was intended to give assurances to the Lebanese people the Israelis would not be allowed to overlook another Sabra and Shatilla massacre. Marines were interposed between Israeli forces and the Muslim villages surrounding Beirut. The presence was intended to bolster the feeling of security of the Lebanese people long enough until the LAF could be trained and organized to carry out its own security for the sovereignty of Lebanon.

The first thing that will be examined is whether the MAUs were organized and equipped to carry out their missions. Colonel Mead wrote that before going into Beirut the second time, the MAU recognized it did not have all the right tactical forces to accomplish its mission. He made reference to the MAU's "carte blanche" and requested all the forces the MAU would need for MNF II. In less than 36 hours, the requested forces were at the MAU's position. Furthermore, when the 32d MAU was relieved by 24th MAU commanded by Colonel Stokes, all 183 of the 32d MAU's augmentation force were turned over to the 24th MAU. Colonel Stokes' MAU was relieved by Colonel Mead and a similar transfer of assets occurred again. When Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU relieved Colonel Mead's 22d MAU, it acquired not only the assets from the previous MAUs but also a U. S. Army Field Artillery School Target Acquisitions Battery (FASTAB).

Another significant point is that when 32d MAU first arrived, not all of its organic equipment came ashore. BLT 2/8 did not bring its tanks or artillery ashore because of the nature of the mission. The personnel and crews that operated this equipment were employed as provisional infantry. When Colonel Stokes' MAU arrived, he brought the tanks and 105mm artillery ashore. When Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU arrived, 155mm artillery replaced the 105mm artillery, and it was "teamed up" with counter-battery radar. All these points indicate that if the MAUs lacked the proper assets or special equipment needed to accomplish their mission, this shortfall was only because the MAU Commander had failed to request that equipment.


Similar to MNF I, the BLTs had the majority of the forces on the ground during MNF II. This distribution of forces ashore is not to imply the other major subordinate elements (MSEs) of the MAU were not important. The MSSGs were major contributors providing sustainment, habitability, engineering, and explosive ordnance disposal support as well as providing maintenance, postal, exchange, and dental services. However the mission of the MSSG during MNF II was similar to its mission anywhere it would be deployed. Major Barnetson, MSSG 32's Commanding Officer, said, "The only difference between the job we are doing here and anywhere else is that here we do it with someone shooting at us." While arguably the personnel of MSSG 32 needed some special training such as terrorism countermeasures and reporting, its commander saw the mission as generally the same. Therefore, training of the MSSGs before deployment will not be evaluated.

Similarly, the ACE made a huge contribution providing assault support in the form of passenger transport and logistical support and even provided some aerial reconnaissance. However, the ACE conducted its mission very similar to the way they would on a normal deployment or even in combat. Lieutenant Colonel Granville R. Amos wrote,

From 1 July 1983 through 31 December 1983, HMM-261 performed every mission that a composite squadron could be tasked to do. The fruits of the squadron's emphasis on tactical training prior to LF6F 1-84 were realized during Operation Urgent Fury, and again in Beirut.

Therefore, the training conducted by the various ACEs before deployment will not be evaluated either.

The training conducted by BLT 2/8 has already been discussed in the previous section. While they received all their specialized training for the contingency while on ship, the quality and level of detail of that training come into question since they lacked the material needed to conduct thorough training on the specific situation.

BLT 3/8 was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for the 24th MAU, the second MAU to go ashore during MNF II. BLT 3/8 had deployed on 24 August 1982 and had conducted two amphibious training exercise en route to Beirut. Before its deployment, BLT 3/8 had focused its training on tasks that would be conducted during these training exercise. In other words, BLT 3/8 had prepared for combat, not peacekeeping. This unit's command chronology for the period just before deployment shows it had conducted the same pattern of training exercises as had BLT 2/8. Like its predecessor, BLT 3/8 had no idea it would be employed in Lebanon before its departure from Camp Lejeune. Therefore any specialized peacekeeping training was conducted on ship with the same limited assets as BLT 2/8.

One thing BLT 3/8 did have, which BLT 2/8 did not have, was the opportunity to read message traffic and intelligence summaries in an attempt to discover early lessons learned by the 32d MAU. Additionally, BLT 3/8 was able to conduct a leaders' reconnaissance the day before landing. During this time, the unit they were relieving gave them all the information they could based on their limited experience ashore.

Major Christopher M. Ayers, the Operations Officer for BLT 3/8 talked about training during the transit and major concerns,

People are also concerned about differences between police action--which we are not empowered to do--and activities, measures taken for our own self defense--which we are empowered to do. The lines got blurred in the PFC level sometimes, so during the transit we had to clarify that [difference] to make everyone know that the only active measures that we could take were in our own self defense after the source had been identified.

This quote shows the BLT knew something was different about their mission and worked hard to highlight those differences. Without resources such as historical examples, the leaders had to "clarify" the situation based on their own judgment. Major Ayers goes on to say this:

My major concern was an overreaction by the Marines. There was, of course, by virtue of the age and grade of many people like myself having not been in combat, I was afraid that maybe too many of our Marines would be over anxious or would expect too much out there.

Major Ayers speaks of the dilemma that small-unit leaders had no point of reference from which to teach.

The first BLT that was not already deployed when Marines were committed in Lebanon was BLT 2/6, which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Anderson. In an interview, the battalion commander outlined the training his unit conducted before deployment. Training consisted of air alert; fireteam, squad, and platoon training; company tactics and a battalion MCCRES in October; and a Combined Arms Exercise during the last two weeks in October. Interestingly, the training sounds just like the training for BLTs 2/8 and 3/8.

BLT 2/6 joined the 22d MAU on 24 November 1982 but did not know right up to deployment whether or not they would be committed in Lebanon. As a result of this uncertainty, BLT 2/6 gave up the opportunity to gain expertise on peacekeeping from the subject matter experts. Since the 22d MAU, the larger organization to which BLT 2/6 belonged, had deployed and returned from Beirut, there was some experience starting at the top with the MAU Commander, Colonel Mead. However, most of the experience in peacekeeping was gained while on the ground through an "intuitive" approach rather than through a rigorous analytical approach examining numerous previous peacekeeping operations. BLT 2/6 lost a valuable opportunity to learn from both previous UN peacekeeping experience and scholarly study.

In the same interview, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson said,

An infantry battalion can do a mission like this, but you need some time to prepare for it. Luckily we had some time. I think if you would drop one [BLT] in here initially, it would be very, very tight.

He went on to say he felt the 27 days his battalion had was enough time. Included in this time were 17 days transit time.

BLT 1/8 was the GCE for 24th MAU. When the 24th MAU relieved the 22d MAU, BLT 1/8 took over the positions of BLT 2/6. This battalion returned from its last deployment in June 1982. Between 30 June 1982 and 11 May 1983, the battalion changed its commanders two times, stood follow-on air alert twice and primary air alert once. Its individual companies participated in a week-long amphibious refresher training course, and the battalion as a whole had deployed to Fort Pickett, Virginia for fire support coordination training and mech and counter-mech training. It stood a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRES) before deployment, and conducted an amphibious workup with the 24th MAU just before departing the U. S.

Ironically, BLT 1/8 deployed to Lebanon nine months after BLT 2/8 went ashore and yet their training schedules looked almost identical. The only mention of specialized peacekeeping training was in its command chronology that stated, "During the first part of May, the battalion spent preparing to carry out its duties as the U. S. contingent to the Multi National Peace Keeping [sic] Force in Beirut, Lebanon." While this statement sounds as if BLT 1/8 conducted some specialized training, examination of the other events during May suggests perhaps this training was primarily conducted on ship similar to the way BLT 2/6 had conducted their training. The command chronology list the events during May as:

Sequential List Of Significant Events

14 Apr - 2 May Max Leave Period
11 May Embark/Depart Morehead City
22 May Inchop to LF6F
29 May D-Day in Beirut, Lebanon

Table 2.

Table 2 shows that BLT 1/8 was in a deployed status for almost two-thirds of May. The time between the maximum leave period and the deployment date would be taken up with inspections, preparations, property turn-in, last minute administrative details, and movement to embarkation points. While BLT 1/8 possibly did train before embarkation, more likely most of the training was conducted once on ship. Benis Frank reinforces this idea when he writes:

Colonel Geraghty also gave a three-hour personal briefing to embarked Marines and Phibron crew members in which he covered the Marine-Air Ground Task Force organization; 24th MAU organization; the history, religions, politics, and social culture of the Lebanese; the foreign and domestic factions in Lebanon; the rules of land warfare and engagement; public affairs matters and naval intelligence and operations.

From this passage, two points come to mind. First, the information briefed by Colonel Geraghty is too much material to cover in just three hours. Second, considering five ships were in the ATF, too much time was dedicated by the highest ranking officer in the MAU at a time he must have been very busy. The amount of time the MAU commander spent briefing Marines indicates he felt this information was very important. It may also indicate he was the only individual in the MAU who possessed all this information. Just two days before sailing, Colonel Geraghty had attended briefings in Washington at the Department of State and Headquarters United States Marine Corps. Also, while it may have been possible to visit all the ships, the LST 1188 USS Harlan County, was carrying causeways that usually prohibit transferring personnel at sea. This complication would make it very difficult for the MAU commander to address the Marines on this ship. Therefore, even if special training was scheduled for the Marines, this training was highly dependent on a few subject matter experts who may not always have been available.

A conclusion from the above discussion is all units had about the same amount and type of peacekeeping training. BLTs 2/6 and 1/8 could have had more peacekeeping training than BLTs 2/8 and 3/8 if their operational tempo had been less rigorous. However, they would have had to realize the unique aspects of their mission was covered by several studies, but they did not. As a result of these factors, most if not all training for the USMNF had to be conducted on ship during transit. Unfortunately, once deployed, the Marines lacked the assets, such as written material and subject matter experts to train effectively.

Peacekeeping Tactics: The Tools

Having looked at the training, we will now look at the tactical deployment of the GCEs. In an interview, Major Jack Farmer who had been the assistant operations officer for 32d MAU and later the operations officer for the 22d MAU explained the thought process behind how forces were positioned at the international airport. His description provides a very logical development of tactical level activities to execute the USCINCEUR plan and reflects an iterative process that involves a give and take between higher and lower level commands. As an example, the 32d MAU was stretched very thin along the section of line it had been assigned. The MAU informed USCINCEUR that it could not defend the line because the line was stretched too thin. USCINCEUR responded that was okay because it never intended the MAU to defend the entire line, it only wanted a presence along the line. The MAU was able to accomplish its task through a series of strongpoints.

BLT 2/8 probably had input on the location of actual positions because in his postdeployment report, the battalion commander explains the designated line and each checkpoint along the line. Plotting all the checkpoints on the map shows a clear, neat line of positions. By keeping the IDF to the east and southeast of the line, the USMNF created a buffer for the heavily populated Muslim suburbs of Beirut. Major Farmer explained how this line accomplished the mission when he stated:

The local Shiite population knew that the Israelis would not open fire or would not continue any aggressive acts against them simply because we were there in the way. And that is the real meaning of the presence mission.

Unfortunately, the line established on the map was not as clear on the ground. A considerable amount of "jockeying" had to be done to take into account the heavily populated areas just outside the airport. Instead of running outside the Muslim neighborhoods shielding them from the IDF, the line ran through them. This positioning of the strongpoints made it difficult at certain locations to see the exact location of the USMNF lines. Additionally, the line did not extend as far as initially assigned because to do so would cut off the IDF from the Sidon Road, a route which they claimed they needed to resupply its forces located to the north.

In another interview conducted after the headquarters bombing, Major Farmer reflects in hindsight how positioning the USMNF along the originally intended line would have placed the Marines between the towns of Kfar Shima, which was Christian, and Ash Shuyafat, which was Muslim. He goes on to explain this may have been helpful when the IDF finally did withdraw in maintaining the peace. However, Major Farmer who knew all the political, physical, and cultural considerations involved in the original positioning of forces was not present when the IDF withdrew in September 1982. While 32d MAU had originally established the line, Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU, which was present, was the fourth MAU to occupy the same line. As a result of the frequent turnovers, the considerations for positioning the USMNF lines (for example, why not extend between Kfar Shima and Ash Shuyafat) may have become lost.

This idea is reinforced by things that happened to Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU. This was the second MAU ashore. Colonel Stokes analyzed his "presence" mission and decided the real way to achieve success was to get out on the Sidon Road. He arranged for permission, and, on 5 December 1982, a Marine patrol moved along the Sidon Road. In his Doctoral Thesis, Dr. Matthews, who also happened to be the BLT 3/8 Commander wrote, "[O]ne elderly Druze lady asked, 'Where have you guys been? why [sic] haven't you been here sooner? We are so tired of killing, maybe it will all end now that you're here.'" These patrols lasted for about a week with good results. No more ambushes were conducted along the road, and all the armed control points of the various militias and factions had disappeared. On 10 December 1982, the Marines were order to stop patrolling. Dr. Matthews concludes the reasons behind this decision were diplomatic in nature and involved Israel.

Colonel Mead's 22d MAU relieved Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU. Continuity existed here because at a minimum both Colonel Mead and Major Farmer had been with the 32d MAU. These officers understood the USMNF positions were based on the original mission and were constrained by diplomatic agreements with Israel. Previously, while commanding the 32d MAU, Colonel Mead had noticed what appeared to be some "heavy-handed" tactics on the part of the LAF against the Palestinians and Muslim squatters living just outside the airport. Although he was concerned at the time, he also stated the poor treatment by the LAF did not seem to build any hostility on the part of the Muslims towards the Marines and they were not targeted. Colonel Mead had just come to this conclusion when his MAU rotated home.

About one month after the 24th MAU was ashore, it commenced training the LAF on a not-to-interfere basis with other duties. In reality, the MAU attacked this task aggressively and welcomed the opportunity to keep busy. One can only wonder what Colonel Mead's reaction would have been to the request to provide LAF training after he had just witnessed the LAF clear squatter camps and buildings overlooking the airport using fire and maneuver and leveling shanty villages with bulldozers. However, since the 24th MAU started training the LAF, when Colonel Mead returned in February 1983, his 22d MAU continued the training.

The 22d MAU was relieved by the 24th MAU which was commanded by Colonel Geraghty. While the 24th MAU was in Lebanon, the IDF withdrew south of the Awali River. Now, the main conflict that needed "presence" was the conflict among the LAF, the Christian militia, and the Muslim militias. Perhaps Colonel Geraghty would have selected different positions or expanded Marine lines had he witnessed earlier events. At a minimum, he may have opted to distance himself from the LAF had he witnessed earlier harsh measures used against the communities surrounding the airport. Another possibility is perhaps Colonel Geraghty saw all these events and tried to take other action but was prohibited for political reasons. Even if this were the case, it lends support to the point that frequent changes of the MAUs disrupted continuity.

Another example that illustrates this point is the positioning of assets ashore. Colonel Mead made the deliberate decision to leave his tanks and artillery on ship to avoid the appearance of being a hostile force. However, Colonel Stokes saw these assets as essential because the USMNF was tasked to be prepared to conduct retrograde operations. While the decision to bring these assets ashore was based on deliberate forethought, to observers outside the USMNF, nothing significant had happened between the departure of the 32d MAU and the arrival of the 24th MAU to motivate an increase in combat power ashore. To the Druze and Amal militias, the change in combat power was an increased threat, and it could be construed as coercion.

Colonel Mead faced a similar situation when he returned with the 22d MAU. What would be the perception if the tanks and artillery were returned to the ships? Colonel Mead had to keep these assets ashore whether or not he thought he needed them. To return them to the ship might show a lessening of support to the LAF.

The presence of these weapons ashore takes on greater significance considering the minimum use of force peacekeeping principle. Intuitively, tanks are associated more often with offensive than defensive operations. Since force only has to be perceived, what at first seems like a minor decision takes on new significance.

The inconsistency between the successive MAUs' decisions can be attributed to the frequent turnover of units and lack of direction from a common higher headquarters. Table 3 below shows the period(s) each MAU was ashore and the key personnel of each MAU headquarters.

MAU Continuity

  32d MAU 24th MAU 22d MAU 24th MAU
CO Mead Stokes Mead Geraghty
XO Smith Schmidt Rice Beebe


S-2 Winbush Ciano Winbush McCarthy
S-3 Blanken-ship Tempone Farmer Converse
S-4 Payne Moon Payne Melton
Dates ashore 25 Sep-

1 Nov 82

1 Nov82-

15 Feb83

15 Feb-

29 May

29 May-

18 Nov

# of months  












Table 3

The median tour in country was three and one-half months. While Colonel Geraghty's MAU stayed five and one-half months, this was only because the MAU rotation was changed from a four-battalion base (1/8, 2/8, 3/8,and 2/6) to a three-battalion base (1/8, 2/8, and 3/8). Table 3 sheds light on the issue of continuity. Just as Commanders got familiar with the situation and area, a new MAU with a new commander arrived. Even when Colonel Mead remained the 22d MAU Commander, his staff changed and (not shown in Table 3) all three of his MSEs changed as well.

Earlier studies on peacekeeping had found the ideal tour length for peacekeeping troops was six months, but for peacekeeping staffs the ideal tour length was one to two years. Had peacekeeping received greater study before using the six-month forward-deployed MAUs, this fact may have been considered. At a minimum, it would have been possible to establish a special staff that remained permanently in Beirut for continuity sake. The special staff could have absorbed the MAU staff similar to the way Brigadier General Jim R. Joy's staff absorbed Colonel Faulkner's 22d MAU staff. While this may not have solved all problems, it would have at least minimized inconsistencies between the MAUs.

In addition to positioning forces between hostile parties, another tactic used by the USMNF was patrolling. The 32d MAU used patrolling to keep in contact with its squad-sized checkpoints in the Muslim town of Hay es Salaam and its most distant positions at the Lebanese University. Colonel Stokes expanded on this patrol plan by sending motorized patrols north into East and West Beirut. This was intended to show the Muslims the Marines were going to "stem any aggressive intentions by the dominant Christian Phalange militia or other Christian forces operating under IDF sponsorship." Finally, some saw patrols as a way to get Marines out of the static positions and give them something to do. This would make them feel they had contributed to the stability of Beirut. It would also prevent one of the biggest problems--boredom.

Foot patrols were used around BIA. Major Arey, BLT 3/8's operations officer said patrols were a way to "extend our presence and the people who lived around BIA and saw the Marines in the street." One photograph in Benis Frank's book shows a patrol at sling arms with magazines removed walking through the street of Hay es Salaam while civilians carry on business as normal. The photograph shows how vulnerable Marines were to a terrorist threat, which they compensated for with designated marksmen and by varying their routes. Patrols would vary their times and point of departures and time of return. Using imagination, leaders even had patrols fly out and return on foot to BIA.

In addition to "showing the flag," the patrols would look for signs that showed aggression. For the most part, Marines were treated with open arms at first, but Eric Hammel, author of The Root, noted Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU met increasing hostility as time went on. Initially, when Marines met hostility, they called back to higher headquarters. If it received a call, the BLT headquarters dispatched an laf liaison team. As hostilities increased in intensity from verbal to physical assaults, Colonel Geraghty proposed the patrols be accompanied by an laf fireteam. The motorized patrols, because of the distances, had always used a liaison officer to accompany the patrol. The combined U. S. and LAF patrols through the towns surrounding BIA seemed like a good solution to a serious problem. Had Colonel Geraghty seen the same treatment the LAF gave the local population as had Colonel Mead, he probably would not have recommended this solution.

As an interposition force, the USMNF was primarily concerned with keeping the Israelis away from the city of Beirut, especially from areas inhabited by Palestinians. Major Farmer said,

The nature of the mission was one of presence, it was peacekeeping just to provide a stabilizing factor basically with us being there in the general location of the IDF, to provide the local indigenous population a feeling of security against the Israelis because of the recent military events and political events that had Israelis involved with Sabra, Shatilla massacre and just the general military nature of the Israeli disposition on the ground.

The likelihood of Israeli attack against the USMNF was virtually nonexistent, but the Israeli reaction to sniper fire and terrorist threat posed a significant problem to Marines. Israeli response would often spill over into U. S. lines. When this happened, Marines were sent scurrying for cover. In addition to spill over fire, it seemed as if the Israelis were constantly testing the legitimacy of the USMNF. Diplomatic agreements clearly specified where the Israelis could and could not go. However, on several occasions, the Israelis would try to enter unauthorized areas. At first, these attempts were made under the guise of poor land navigation. Other times they were overt attempts to force or intimidate their way into the USMNF's sector. The perimeter at the Lebanese University was the site of the most overt attempts.

Captain Charles B. Johnson's Company L, BLT 3/8 occupied the Lebanese University position while Colonel Stokes' 22d MAU was ashore. In an interview, Captain Johnson related several incidents that occurred at his position involving the Israelis. The first incident involved the IDF patrols along the Sidon Road. After being attacked on several different occasions by terrorist using car bombs parked along the Sidon Road, the IDF began to use the reconnaissance-by-fire technique as they patrolled. They would patrol on a routine basis from south to north, set up security, and later in the day return from north to south. As the IDF patrol moved along the road, they would periodically fire at what they determined to be suspected terrorist positions. This tactic was very dangerous because at anytime the fire could spill over into civilian neighborhoods or even into the USMNF positions.

On 10 January 1983 while using the reconnaissance-by- fire technique, the IDF hit a local civilian bird hunter who was mistaken for a terrorist. The hunter dropped his "primitive" muzzle-loaded weapon, got in his car, and drove into the nearby town. The IDF trailed the man but had to go through the U. S./LAF checkpoint to get to the town. They announced their intentions to go inside the perimeter and search for the "terrorist." The Marines and the LAF officer at the checkpoint refused to permit the IDF to pass through. The company commander was at the airport at a meeting and so the senior Marine on the scene was Captain Kelsy, a forward air controller (FAC) attached to the company. The FAC spoke to the Israeli officer and confirmed they would not be allowed to pass. In the meantime, Captain Johnson, the company commander arrived on the scene.

The Israelis restated their intentions and flagged down three busses full of Israeli soldiers that were traveling south on the Sidon Road. The situation became a very tense standoff. Finally, all parties agreed the IDF would not be given access but the LAF would search for the man. The LAF went into the town and to the building where the man was last seen. A short time later, the LAF returned and informed the IDF the man could not be found. The IDF had no other choice but to leave. As a result of this incident, an emergency communications net was established between the USMNF and the IDF.

A week after this incident, on 17 January 1982, an IDF vehicle patrol approached the combined U. S. and LAF checkpoint near the university and demanded access. The Marine on duty denied access and called the company commander. Captain Johnson went to the checkpoint to investigate. A reporter who had been doing a story on Lima Company came along. When Captain Johnson arrived, he repeated to the IDF patrol leader he could not pass. A Marine stood in front of the lead vehicle to block the way. The Israeli driver lurched forward by popping the clutch, hit the Marine, and then braked the vehicle after knocking the Marine back. Meanwhile, a U. S. Marine M60 machinegun squad and a reaction squad set up just down the road from the Israeli patrol. Although Captain Johnson insists they did not load their weapons, the reporter wrote his story as if they had. The Israelis left with no further confrontation, but this incident created a heightened awareness of tensions between the USMNF and IDF.

On 23 January 1982, a television news crew observed the now publicized IDF reconnaissance-by-fire technique, and they decided to film the action. The crew set up in a field adjacent to the Sidon Road and filmed so overtly that the Israeli patrol leader demanded they turn over the film. The news team refused and moved within the USMNF area.

The third incident, probably the best known, happened on 2 February 1983. About a week prior, Captain Johnson had noticed two Israeli armored personnel carriers (APCs) move up to the fence marking the USMNF's position and stop. He went down to the APCs and informed them they were at the perimeter and could not enter. The vehicle commander acknowledged Captain Johnson's statement and said he had orders to wait there for 30 minutes and he would leave. In almost exactly 30 minutes the APCs did leave.

The next week, Captain Johnson was on the roof of the library building showing the Advance party for the British contingent to the MNF some key points of the surrounding area. He observed tanks moving down through the city, which struck him as unusual because tanks were vulnerable to attack in the narrow streets. He immediately went down to the edge of his perimeter and stopped where the APCs had stopped the previous week. The tanks came within 30 meters of the same spot when he flagged down the lead tank. As Captain Johnson stood with pistol drawn in front of the tank, he informed the tank commander he could not enter the perimeter and would have to run over him to do so. The commander seemed to acknowledge and spoke into his microphone to the other tanks. While the lead tank stopped, the other two tanks raced forward. Captain Johnson jumped on the stopped tank, pulled the tank commander to him, and told him to stop the other tanks or he would kill him. The tank commander complied, and the tanks stopped. He informed Captain Johnson he was Lieutenant Colonel Lansberg, the battalion commander of the Israeli force positioned at Khalde, and then he departed.

Captain Johnson immediately called his battalion commander who arrived on the scene shortly. After walking the ground, they called the MAU commander, Colonel Stokes, and informed him. As result of this incident, even more attention was drawn by the media to the tensions between the USMNF and IDF.

These examples imply Marines knew their responsibilities and the level of force authorized. In each incident, they used absolute minimum force often times putting themselves in great danger to comply with this principle. Even in the absence of the company commander, other leaders provided sufficient depth of knowledge to carry out the mission. Captain Johnson felt awkward dealing with the Israelis because,

With the ROE the way they were and being that most Americans identify with the religious struggle and so forth of Israel [it was difficult], but we have our orders. Very simple,...we weren't sent there to help the Israelis. We were sent there to keep peace and to help the Lebanese. I mean, that's just the way the orders came down, and they will be followed. But it was an awkward situation to deal with the Israelis. It was a no win situation.

All three of these incidents show Marines knew what to do. Even though the situation was awkward, the situation was also clear. When the situation was very clear, not only did Marines know what to do, they willingly performed their peacekeeping duty even though minimum use of force presented great risk. Marines did not lock and load their weapons, but they were in position ready to do so if necessary. Israelis were not allowed to search Muslim towns inside the USMNF perimeter, and Israeli tanks were stopped by the extraordinary action of one individual. All these events added credibility to the Marines' presence.

Unused Tools

Two factors that should not be overlooked in these examples are the presence of media and the status of Israel. The Israelis seemed very concerned that their reconnaissance-by-fire was captured on tape. Later, at the checkpoint incident, a reporter was present in addition to a reaction squad. The Captain Johnson and the IDF tank commander incident made international headlines. Israel, a legitimate government, had to answer to the world body. These two facts combined may have tempered the IDF response. Chapter Two discussed part of the theory of peacekeeping that was the hostile parties would not want to be accused of firing on the UN. In this situation, the same dynamic is seen between the IDF and the USMNF. Perhaps in the case of the IDF, the USMNF's most effective tactic would have been positioning the television mini-camera.

This concept is not without precedence. At the start of Operation Peace For Galilee, the IDF literally ran over the Fijjian Battalion of the UN peacekeeping force assigned to southern Lebanon (UNIFIL). Ten years earlier, the Danes had successfully stopped the IDF by laying down their weapons and linking their arms as they blocked the road. The difference between the Danes and the Fijjians was the Danes had their unit photographer off to the side in a safe position filming the entire event.

Colonel Geraghty's 24th MAU may have been able to use this tool against the IDF during its tour. In his thesis, Lieutenant Colonel Matthews, USMC (retired) tells of an interview he had with the 24th MAU's Intelligence Officer, Captain Kevin McCarthy, concerning an incident with an IDF tank unit on 8 June 1983. After hearing tank main gun fire, Captain McCarthy, who was standing watch at the time, went to a Marine checkpoint to investigate. He found an Israeli captain who spoke English. The Israeli officer explained he had received rocket fire and his tanks had just expended 100 high explosive rounds into Hay es Salaam. Captain McCarthy was astonished but apparently felt he could do nothing except report this incident up the chain of command. What options were available? The MAU could not attack the IDF tanks. Even if an attack were authorized, the tanks were no longer firing and therefore did not meet the criteria to engage. In this situation, the media option appears to have been one of the better options. Had the 24th MAU been able to film this action and hold the IDF accountable to the world for their action, Captain McCarthy might have felt less helpless and the USMNF would have been more effective creating a stable environment.

However, care must be taken in applying this lesson. The conditions in this situation making media tactics applicable do not always apply. When the IDF withdrew to the south, factional fighting started up. Publicity would not likely have quieted this fighting. It would most likely have had the opposite effect as factions competed for world attention to view the injustices they suffered. The factions were not legitimate governments susceptible to international pressure. If the media and world attention are to be used as tools, judgment must be used when to apply them.

Although the USMNF seemed to be very successful during the three incidents with the IDF, in a way the IDF also won. These incidents were responsible for establishing direct communications between the MAU and the IDF. This appears to be what the IDF wanted all along. Colonel Mead noticed a continuous Israeli attempt to bypass the government of Lebanon. After meeting with diplomats and Israeli Brigadier General Lfikin on 24 March 1982, to work out an agreement for exchanging patrol information, Colonel Mead noted:

The IDF continued, however, to seek coordination between the two units instead of a simple exchange of information. This request was pressed repeatedly by Defense Minister Arens and others. They continually failed to acknowledge that the U. S. MNF presence in Lebanon was a result of a request from the GOL and, since the Israelis were invaders, our stance as peacekeepers must be pro-Lebanon and neutral toward Israel. If the Muslim Lebanese population perceived our presence as one in coordination with the Israelis, our safety and ability to accomplish the mission would be drastically reduced.

Initially, the USMNF did not establish military-to-military communications with the IDF. One reason may have been to lessen the decisionmaking responsibility on the tactical forces. If, in a high pressure situation such as the show-down between the Marines at the Lebanese University and the IDF, the Marines were able to say, "Let me check with higher headquarters," Marines would be under less pressure to make a quick decision. Also, if Marines announced an unfavorable decision, they would be less likely to receive additional pressure since the decision would appear to be out of their hands.

A second reason, and probably the most likely, was to preserve the neutrality of the USMNF. If the Marines had no communications with the IDF, it would be difficult to accuse the USMNF of cooperating with the IDF. Colonel Stokes on several occasions had to remind the Israelis all communications must be directed through diplomatic channels.

Although Colonel Mead understood the IDF's intentions concerning direct communications, another incident demonstrates his difficult position. On 7 May 1983, the USMNF came under fire from what appeared to be spill over fire from the mountains to the east. Additionally, several rockets landed between Black Beach and the amphibious ships just off the shore. The rocket fire was coming from just outside Marine lines from an area normally patrolled by the IDF. Colonel Mead ordered the Marines to standby to sweep that area and then called the IDF and said if they did not clear that area he would send U. S. forces out to do it. In a short time the IDF sent a sweep through the area but never found the gunner.

This incident viewed from the gunner's perspective provides insight. From his point of view, the gunner fires at U. S. ships and Marines, but the IDF looks for him. The implications of these events are not hard to conceive. The USMNF cooperated with the IDF. Similar to the idea expressed by Captain Johnson, Colonel Mead was faced with a no win situation dealing with the Israelis. The hotline proved to be an in-extremis coordination net.

The question at this point is if the USMNF could negotiate in an emergency with the IDF, why could they not negotiate with the various militias surrounding the airport? A likely answer involves the mission to support the legitimate government of Lebanon. Negotiations with the militias would recognize the militias as legitimate parties. This would not support the legitimate government that was trying to control the illegitimate militias.

Still, LAF liaison officers were located in the building next to the MAU headquarters. Why could the liaison officer not have had closer contact with the militias? After all, if the Israelis started to shoot at the USMNF, the Marines could use the hotline with the Israelis to diffuse the situation. When the Druze or Amal militias shot at the USMNF, the Marines had only two options: (1) take cover and allow them to continue firing or (2) fire back to silence the fire.

When the Marines did fire back, how effectively they communicated their message to the militias is difficult to tell. When Marines responded to hostile indirect fire on 29 August 1983, the first rounds fired were 81mm illumination. While the illumination rounds were intended to send a clear message to the militias to stop firing, the actual message they sent could have been quite different. The USMNF hoped the message was, "We have your position located and can destroy you if you do not stop." However, there are many other things these illumination rounds could have been saying to the militias.

First, if the rounds were directly over the target they could have been interpreted as "The Americans are not willing to engage us with high explosive rounds and are weak-hearted." In a culture that places a premium on brute force and destructive power, this message is quite conceivable.

However, another interpretation is equally likely. The militia had the initiative. They fired first; the USMNF fired second. If the militia wanted to alienate the USMNF from the local population, the illumination rounds could be a sign that they had almost lured the Marines into engaging them. They could retain the initiative by firing one more indirect round on the Marines and then displacing. The Marines would return fire with high explosive rounds but would only do so based on the actions of the militia. Therefore, the militia had absolute control. If the illumination rounds were on target, the militias might not fire on the Marines. If the warning rounds were over an area they did not care about, they could fire with no fear. If they wanted the rounds to hit civilians, they could even position civilians under the illumination rounds before they returned their second round.

A similar situation existed during patrolling activities. If a civilian acted hostile to a Marine patrol, the practice was to call back to headquarters and a Lebanese liaison officer was sent to investigate. Marines had no feedback on what caused the hostility. While they were the targets of aggression, they never really knew why. In response to a grenade attack on a 22d MAU patrol, the LAF cordoned off an area and arrested over 100 people. One suspect was convicted of the crime and was sentenced to death. The LAF reported the suspect was pro-Amal. The Amal were located around BIA in the same area the LAF had swept when Colonel Mead was with the 32d MAU. The LAF could have fabricated the story to justify their earlier actions. In hindsight, the LAF, which wanted U. S. support, would not tell the USMNF it was being attacked because of its support to the LAF. The USMNF relied on information and negotiations through a party very much involved in the conflict. This reliance made the USMNF a party to the conflict too and not a neutral third party.

The inability to communicate with all the local parties led to an unclear situation. Unlike the situation with the Israelis that was very clear, the firefights between the surrounding militias was never clear. Major Arey said, "[T]he longer we stayed there the more we knew, [but] the less we understood it because of the merkiness [sic] of Lebanese politics." Had the USMNF been able to communicate with the local militias, they could have used less force, provided more accurate intelligence to their diplomats for negotiating, and accomplished their mission more effectively.

Other events show the USMNF had a general idea of what they were supposed to do but lacked the polish needed to be totally effective. One example is a series of civil affairs operations that were not tied together very well. All civic action programs were carried out with the greatest intentions and sincerity, however, because they were not coordinated and exploited, their effectiveness was negligible or even counterproductive. For example, the 22d MAU set up a semi-pemanent dental facility at the airport near the center of their lines. At first, Lebanese were reluctant to come to this facility. However, over a period of four months, MSSG 22 treated over 1,220 patients in routine dental procedures. The immediate problem with this program was its location. By having the dental clinic at the airport and having the patients come to the clinic, the Marines had no control over who benefited from the treatment. Patients could have been fairly well off Christians who did not pose a problem to the USMNF. If the dental programs had been conducted in a Muslim neighborhood, the beneficiaries would almost certainly be Muslim. In other words the civic action programs were not targeted towards a specific group, the group which the USMNF had to try the hardest to avoid alienating.

Other civic action programs were also well-intentioned but were carried out over too long a period. For example, 22d MAU started to build a playground for a children's school in Burj al Burajneh. They could not finish the playground in time and so MSSG 24 had to finish it later. What message was being sent to the local population? The Marines could not even build a playground.

What would have happened if the Marines had brought the materials and equipment to the site and helped the local civilians build the playground instead of building it for them? What if the dental programs had been conducted in the middle of town and as people waited to be seen, they spoke about their problems and asked why the Marines were in Lebanon? The effectiveness of these programs could have been greatly increased. While the Marines intuitively knew civic action was good, they lacked the expertise to exploit the benefits it could have provided. These were lost opportunities.

Another event involved the 22d MAU during rescue operations in the Chouf mountains after the area had been hit by a huge snowstorm. The Marines carried out a very difficult mission to reach civilians stranded in the mountains. In addition to the environmental factors, the mission was especially complex because the civilians were stranded behind Syrian lines. The 22d MAU order is a textbook example of a five-paragraph order with numerous details coordinating the activity of all three MSEs. The Marines were successful in this operation. They did relieve suffering for some civilians; however, their overall mission was to support the legitimate government of Lebanon. Instead, the USMNF took over a function of the legitimate government of Lebanon. While only the USMNF had the equipment that made it possible to conduct this mission, the LAF could have accompanied the Marines on this mission. If legitimacy were the issue, then credit for the rescue operation should have gone to the LAF. In the Commander's comments section of a special situation report concerning the rescue operations, Colonel Mead wrote, "Professionalism displayed by all Marines and sailors further boosted the reputation and image of the Marine Corps in the eyes of the Lebanese people." Colonel Mead's concern for the can-do image of his Marines may have influenced his decision to exclude the LAF during this mission.

There are numerous other examples that show Marines were well-intentioned and eager to carry out their mission but lacked the expertise and knowledge to fully and effectively carry it out. As discussed in Chapter Two, one of the principles of peacekeeping is minimum use of force. Some types of force are very easy to understand. The use of weapons is a clear use of force. Some other types of force, such as the use of barriers, are not as clear but qualify as force. The threat of force is also the use of force. The threat of force does not have to be actual; it only has to be perceived. With this as background, we will now discuss crosstraining with other members of the MNF.

The Marines recognized their peacekeeping mission was detracting from their primary mission of warfighting. To compensate for this, the 22d and 24th MAUs sent about 120 Marines to Camp Des Garrigues, France for training to maintain their combat skills. In addition to training outside Lebanon, Marines began to train inside Lebanon as well. This training often included other members of the MNF, especially the French. While the Italians were invited, they always seemed too busy to come. Some of the multinational crosstraining involved firing each country's small arms. This was a low visibility exercise involving platoon-sized units from both the U. S. Marines and the French. Other training exercises took on higher visibility.

The 22d MAU and both 24th MAUs conducted amphibious assaults from U. S. ships to Black Beach. The U. S. ships were highly visible and no doubt these amphibious operations were visible from the coastal road and especially from the hills surrounding BIA. Amphibious assaults are unquestionably offensive operations. With no formal announcements explaining the purpose of these exercises to the local populace, one can imagine what the Muslim militias thought as amphibious vehicles and helicopters stormed the beach. Even prior announcement unless done extremely well, may have been greeted with skepticism.

Another highly visible crosstraining evolution was parachute operations. Both the 22d and 24th MAU conducted parachute jumps using the Beirut golf course as a drop zone. In Benis Frank's book, several parachutists high above the city of Beirut are seen in a photograph. Parachute operations are a means to project power and in no way can be construed as defensive. Additionally they were highly visible operations and not something that happened everyday in Lebanon. While the USMNF could not have know for sure how the local militias perceived these operations, clearly, not much thought was put into whether this would create the wrong perception.

Whether the Italian contingent's decline to participate in these operations was intentional or coincidental is also uncertain. However, whenever senior Marines spoke of the Italian peacekeeping force, they had nothing but praise for the contingent because of its professionalism and ability to carry out one of the hardest missions in the center of the Palestinian refugee camps. Additionally, the Italians kept the same Commanding General, Brigadier General Angioni, and his staff in Lebanon for the entire length of MNF II. Interestingly, the Italians did not suffer the same type of terrorist attack experienced by the USMNF and the French. With this information, the Italian Commanding General's decision appears to be more deliberate than mere coincidence.

The last example of lack of preparation for peacekeeping involves cultural aspects. Leaders had a big concern that Marines would naturally align with the Christian population in Lebanon. Lieutenant Colonel Anderson was concerned his Marines would find it easy to align with the Christians because:

Christians speak the same language and wear western clothes. Moslems dress different[ly] and speak a different language. It is much more difficult to feel comfortable with them.

Although leaders were aware of culture, they had a hard time operating in a cultural environment they did not fully understand and that was predisposed to hostility toward U. S. forces.

In his thesis, Lieutenant Colonel Matthews relates several stories in which Marines were unconsciously maneuvered into situations that made them look as if they were aligning with the Christian population. While the Marines felt they were being honored at gala events and extravagant banquets, they often ended up on the pages of local magazines eating dinner with quite possibly the "same forces responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacre just ninety days earlier." When Marines realized their errors, they quickly stopped, but the damage had been done. First impressions are lasting impressions.

Another example of cultural insensitivity is similar to the French flag incident in the Beirut port area before the evacuation of the PLO. A story in a June 1983 edition of the Root Scoop praised Lance Corporal Benson D. Stalvey of BLT 1/8 for motivating his fellow Marines every day when he played "colors" on the bugle. While this is not a major incident, it seems to be in quite a contrast to Colonel Mead's earlier lesson to his MAU on the use of symbolic gestures to show support for Lebanon. If colors had been raised without a bugle, they might have gone unnoticed. With the addition of the bugle and the short distance to Muslim villages from Marine lines, the color raising ceremony was quite visible. Although this story was on the front page of the MAU's own weekly newspaper, it did not seem to strike any of the 24th MAU leaders as improper.

Finally, the words and actions of individual Marines show a clear shift in attitudes towards peacekeeping. Michael Petit was a Marine corporal assigned to the 24th MAU Operations Section when the BLT headquarters building was destroyed. In his book, Peacekeepers at War, he shows strong contempt for an officer who tried to explain the "presence mission" to members of the press. While Petit was only one Marine, consider that he worked in the MAU headquarters as a clerk. He worked daily filing messages from higher headquarters (which he must have read because he includes excerpts from these messages in his book) and was privy to conversations between the operations officer, various staff officers, and even Colonel Geraghty himself. If any enlisted Marine should have understood the situation and purpose for being in Lebanon, that Marine should have been Corporal Petit. His contempt and anger show a lack of understanding of the peacekeeping mission. If he did not understand the purpose and political aspects of the 24th MAU's mission, consider the understanding of the individual rifleman at a remote checkpoint several miles away from the headquarters.

Other examples show Marines were proud they were allowed to use force very effectively; however, few examples show they related the use of force to failure of their mission. Benis Frank's book shows a series of photographs of a hardbacked tent that was used as a soda mess in Alpha Company, BLT 1/8's position. A sign outside the tent changed over time from the "Can't Shoot Back...," to the "Can Shoot Back...," and finally to the "Did Shoot Back Saloon." In a letter written to his sister just before his death, Staff Sergeant Ortega wrote this:

When the bombs hit, all you could see was Lebanese people flying and dying. We had a couple of Marines hurt, but nothing serious. The best part is we got to fire back for the first time.

Other statements made by Marines show a similar attitude. U. S. News and World Report quoted a Charlie Company, BLT 1/8 Marine as saying, "The other night our unit fired with everything we have, even a tank. Yet some politicians back home claim we're not in combat. That's bull!" The article goes on to say Marines were cheering for the U. S. Navy ships firing in support until they learned they were being fired in support of the LAF in Suq el Gharb. In their frustration with being shot at, Marines seem to have forgotten their peacekeeping mission.

In his book Beirut Outakes, Larry Pintak, a television journalist, comments on the differences in response when talking to the press depending on whether a Marine was an officer or enlisted. When the journalist asked Corporal John Ruffner if he was certain the Muslim gunmen were shooting at him, he responded without hesitation, "Certainly, certainly were, sir. I was looking right down the barrel of their guns. It felt good to finally start hitting back." When the journalist posed the same question to Corporal Ruffner's Company Commander, Captain Roy, the answer was much different. Captain Roy answered, "There were so many rounds that came in, some of which landed on us, some of which landed across the airstrip. I don't know if we were the target. I don't know if they were meant for us." Pitkin goes on to say Captain Roy's company had suffered several casualties by this time. Given his position as commander, the significance of those casualties was probably much more closely felt. Despite this, his response supported the mission and guidance much better than the Marine who was probably less affected by the deaths of those Marines.

More likely, as an officer, Captain Roy had a better understanding of the political connotations of his statements, and therefore, was more restrained. However, in decentralized peacekeeping operations, noncommissioned officers must understand their mission just as well as their officers. Enlisted Marines led patrols, stood outposts, and trained their subordinates. All of these statements show the average Marine may not have understood the tools of peacekeeping and the political aspects of his mission, but, in at least this one case, his officer did.

The reason for this is not that the Marines were poorly trained. They had outstanding skills. Junior Marines were leading patrols in built up terrain with live rounds and in a foreign country. To the contrary, the Marines were very well trained for conventional combat operations. However, as shown earlier, they had very little peacekeeping training. Even the word "training" may be the wrong word because the Marines were trained very well to recite their ROE, mission, and even some facts about the local culture and political situation. What they lacked was education. In a book review for the Marine Corps Gazette, Lieutenant General Bernard E. Trainor expresses this same idea with the following:

Unschooled in the complexities of Levantine politics and culture, the United States, and Marines on the ground, mistook Lebanese praise for their tough stand against early Israeli provocations around Beirut airport as an endorsement of the "presence" mission.

The Marines knew they needed to remain neutral and use minimum force but they were not educated well enough to know they were violating these principles.

The undesired effect of insufficient training and education for peacekeeping operations is a recurring theme throughout MNF II. When faced with relatively clear problems, such as keeping the IDF out of certain areas, Marines knew what to do. However, when involved with more complex problems, such as how to handle the IDF after it had already fired into a Muslim town, the USMNF was bewildered. When the IDF withdrew, the 24th MAU lacked the prudence to change its own mission when it was apparent its higher headquarters would not. The 24th MAU continued to follow its original task instead of adapting to a changing situation that made its original task irrelevant.

While the USMNF thought it was doing a good job, in reality, it was unwittingly violating all the rules of peacekeeping. The USMNF forfeited its impartial status by interacting exclusively with the LAF. The MAUs trained, patrolled, and manned checkpoints with the LAF even though common knowledge was that the LAF used "strong-armed" tactics against the Muslim villages surrounding the airport. While numerous signs that the USMNF was targeted because of its association with the LAF existed, this lesson was not fully learned until after the BLT headquarters bombing.

Even if the USMNF had not aligned with the LAF, its cultural insensitivity slowly eroded its impartial status. Conversely, intimate knowledge of American and U. S. military culture allowed the IDF, LAF, and Muslim factions to exploit the USMNF. Operating under restrictions imposed by the ROE, the USMNF's response to hostilities was easy to determine and predictable.

The USMNF tried in vain to bolster its impartial status by setting up civic action programs designed to show goodwill toward the local Muslim population. While a noble effort, these programs, lacking command emphasis and professional expertise, were not tied into other aspects of the USMNF's operations. The media, a tool the USMNF thought it was using to its advantage, became the tool of extremist factions that wanted to send a message to the U. S. government and American people.

Faced with increasing violence, individual Marines changed their attitudes from impartial observers to hostile participants who were glad to finally shoot back. Their response to increased hostility was to use the tools of conventional combat instead of "negotiation, mediation, quiet diplomacy and reasoning, tact and the patience of a JOB."

These adverse factors could have been avoided or their effect at least lessened through proper training and education before commitment of the USMNF. Since they were not, these factors interacted creating a dynamic situation in which the Marines were targeted and eventually failed to accomplish their mission.

CHAPTER FIVE: Comparisons and Conclusions

Chapters Three and Four analyzed MNF I and II individually, and evaluated the effectiveness of the USMNF during these operations. Possible conclusions that might come from comparing the two operations are: (1) the 32d MAU proved forward-deployed forces can conduct peacekeeping operations by its success in MNF I, and (2) the USMNF's failure in MNF II was the result of numerous factors that would have caused failure for any peacekeeping force. Since the 32d MAU participated in both MNF I and II, another conclusion might be that forward-deployed forces were not effective peacekeepers as proven by failure in MNF II, and that the success experienced in MNF I was only the result of a very simple situation unique to that operation.

Although one operation succeeded and the other failed, there are similarities and differences between the two. Comparing the characteristics of each operation will provide insight into the different results. This insight will help differentiate whether the MAUs were an appropriate type force that happened to fail, or if the MAUs were an inappropriate type force that contributed to failure. This insight will also help determine the feasibility of using similar type forces in future peacekeeping operations.

Similar But Different

The first major similarity between MNF I and II is the type unit employed. In both operations the MAU was the basic unit. One unit, the 32d MAU, participated in both operations. The MAU's battalion-sized GCE, although stretched thin, was able to establish positions between hostile parties and provide a calming influence. During MNF II, the GCE carried out patrols to: (1) show support for the GOL, (2) show the flag, and (3) monitor the general attitude of the local populace. The GCE's organic motor transport assets provided sufficient tactical mobility to support patrolling several miles to the northeast into Christian East Beirut. Also, the assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) were able to travel well into the mountains to carry out a rescue mission, and the mobility of the GCE became even greater when supported by the ACE using troop transport helicopters.

The MAU always had sufficient combat power and equipment because, in addition to its normal assets, the MAU received any other assets its commander requested. However, perhaps the MAUs had too much equipment to be effective peacekeepers. Given the offensive and highly lethal characteristics of tanks and artillery, the MAU may have appeared as a combatant instead of a peacekeeping force. Too much equipment is also not a factor because the MAU commander always had the option of leaving equipment on ship as Colonel Mead had decided both times the 32d MAU went ashore. Therefore, even if the MAUs had too much equipment, this excess was the result of judgment and not the MAU's Table of Organization.

The ACE and MSSG allowed the MAUs to be self- sufficient. The ACE was a valuable asset for sustaining the force with supplies from outside of Lebanon. The MSSG kept the MAU from depending on the Lebanese government for food, water, and fuel. While fresh vegetables and produce were available at different times, these were luxuries. Marines could subsist on prepackaged rations and food prepared on ATF shipping. Independence was essential. As described in the last chapter, the USMNF was dependent on the LAF for intelligence. This had an undesirable consequence. Dependence meant the USMNF got only what the GOL wanted to give them. As a result, the USMNF was not able to determine the Muslims perceived it as aligned with the LAF and, by extension, Christian and Israeli forces. If the USMNF had also relied on the GOL for food, water, and gas, this would have been another impediment to distancing itself from the LAF once the MAUs discovered why they were targeted.

Another attribute of the MAU that made it an especially desirable peacekeeping force was its relationship to the Phibron. The mobility of the ATF was a major factor for using the MAUs in Lebanon. Ambassador Dillion explained Marines were chosen for the USMNF contingent because:

They looked good. This was a political job and because of their discipline and esprit de corps, they could carry it out very well...they were mobile. They can pack up and leave in 24 hours.

Ralph A. Hallenbeck, a former Pentagon staff officer whose day-to-day dealings were with the USMNF, reinforces the idea that mobility was an important factor. During a symposium held ten years after the bombing of BLT 1/8's headquarters, Hallenbeck remarked that the security mission at the British Embassy and Duraford Building had created more concern with Pentagon planners than the bombing of the U. S. Embassy itself because it made the Marines' mission more permanent. Permanence made them more difficult to withdraw.

The only deficiency from an organizational perspective was the MAUs' intelligence sections. The Long Commission report noted the inadequacy of the MAU's intelligence capability, but this problem was fixed with Brigadier General Joy's 22d MAU when the intelligence section was reinforced. Therefore, because the MAUs had sufficient combat power, were self-sufficient, and had strategic and tactical mobility, they appear to have been ideally equipped and organized for peacekeeping operations.

The training of all MAUs for both MNF I and II was basically the same. The individual Marines and small units were very well trained for conventional combat. With combat training comes discipline. In MNF I, discipline proved to be critical, and Marines carried themselves well in a chaotic environment. During MNF II, the same type discipline allowed the Marines to live in field conditions for extended periods with little adverse effect from environmental factors.

However, the MAUs received very little training on Lebanese culture, history, background, and the theory of peacekeeping. While Marines were able to "parrot" back their ROE and mission, they knew very little on the reasons why force was restricted or the political aspects of their mission. When faced with unfamiliar situations, Marines became frustrated and responded with greater violence. They tried to solve problems with the tools that they were most familiar instead of with the unfamiliar tools of peacekeeping. Lack of specialized training affected the decisionmaking abilities of key leaders and the attitudes of individual Marines.

Lack of confidence in the Marines' peacekeeping skills led to restraints being placed on the USMNF that prohibited direct communication with the hostile parties during both MNF I and II. This prohibition lead to potentially volatile situations between the USMNF and the IDF, and to communications through mistaken perceptions with the Muslim factions. Additionally, it took decisionmaking responsibility away from the individual on the scene and forced a rigid and predictable response based on highly publicized ROE. This precarious situation for the USMNF provided keen public interest that was heightened by an aggressive international media.

How Different?

Even though these conditions existed during both MNF I and II, the differences between the two operations caused these conditions to have a different effect. The most obvious difference between the two operations is the length. MNF I lasted just sixteen days, but MNF II lasted almost thirteen months before the headquarters bombing incident.

The short length of MNF I compensated for the lack of peacekeeping training. Key leaders could remain constantly vigilant and ready to act. The unique aspects of the evacuation created "adrenaline," that kept individuals alert at all times. This allowed small-unit leaders to analyze every situation with great scrutiny and make deliberate decisions. Even if poor decisions were made, the USMNF withdrew from Beirut before the consequences of those mistakes could have an effect. Finally, the 32d MAU reached the MNF I operational end state and withdrew. The 32d MAU was the only unit involved. Therefore, it did not experience continuity problems between successive units as was the case in MNF II.

The length of MNF II was long enough so that mistakes made early in this operation could result in consequences to the USMNF before mission completion. A lack of cultural awareness led to the perceived alignment with Christian and Israeli forces even though Marines were conscious of this danger and tried to avoid it.

Also, the extended time ashore changed decisionmaking. The significance of earlier decisions, made only after rigorous and deliberate forethought, was taken for granted. While the factors that influenced those decisions changed, the decisions themselves did not. The longer tour lengths and limits on mental endurance prohibited decisionmakers from pouring energy into every new decision. Instead of using an analytical approach to every decision, leaders had to use an intuitive approach. Since they lacked the education and expert background in peacekeeping, they did not always recognize the significance of their decisions. The difference between the Lebanese flag raising during MNF I and the Marine bugle player during MNF II shows this contrast. During MNF I we see a very deliberate effort to use symbolism to achieve a favorable image, but in MNF II we see a failure even to recognize how symbolism might adversely affect the mission. Numerous other intuitive decisions were made concerning LAF training, type of forces ashore, and multinational crosstraining. As shown in Chapter Four, when subjected to analysis, these decisions had greater significance than realized at the time the decisions were made.

The complexity of the situation also distinguishes MNF II from MNF I. In comparison, MNF I had fairly "clear lines." It was characterized by East Beirut versus West Beirut, IDF versus PLO, Italians along the Damascus Highway, French along the Green Line, and the USMNF along the port perimeter. The "clear lines" were literal as well as figurative. The relative clarity of the situation compensated for the lack of peacekeeping training.

MNF II started with clear lines when the situation called for separating the IDF from the Muslims. The lines became "blurred" as the IDF first tried to draw the USMNF closer through aggressive action and then followed with proposals to formalize coordination between the forces. The situation became even more confusing after the IDF withdrew altogether and the USMNF was faced with factional fighting. Only after the headquarters bombing did the Marines realize why they were targeted. In an interview immediately after leaving Beirut, Major Converse, the 24th MAU Operations Officer explained he did not feel the Marines were being directly targeted "but the joint [sic] LAF/USMC checkpoints were being attacked." He went on to say he felt the attacks were a message the USMNF was getting too close to the LAF.

The 22d MAU, which relieved Colonel Geraghty's MAU, had a good understanding of the new lines. Not only had the mission changed to "defend their positions," but the leaders knew the LAF had something to do with the fire directed at the USMNF. When explaining how firefights with various militias started, Major Steve Anderson, BLT 2/8's Operations Officer explained, "A lot of times I felt the LAF initiated it. A lot of times I thought they abutted up next to us just to draw us into it because of our preponderance of fire power."

Finally, the affect the media had on the two operations was clearly different. During MNF I and early months of MNF II, the media had a positive affect by forcing the IDF to use restraint. Although not realized at the time, all MAUs could have used the media to communicate its intentions to the local factions. The media could have favorably influenced local opinion while the Muslim factions were still neutral to the USMNF. Even though the MAU had a relatively large Public Affairs detachment, no evidence shows that this detachment worked with the local media to enhance local perceptions of the USMNF. Although the media had generated considerable support for the USMNF, the highly visible Marines became a lucrative terrorist target because of the same media attention. Interestingly, while the USMNF was making headlines in Beirut, the MFO operations in the Sinai were successfully underway and continue to be successful today. Not surprising, news of the MFO is infrequent and normally only found in professional journals.


MNF I was so different from MNF II that conclusions from one operation must be qualified with the distinct characteristics of that operation. Because MNF I was successful, an appropriate conclusion is MAUs can be used in peacekeeping operations but only under specific conditions. By extension to their modern equivalents, forward-deployed and rapid-deployment combat forces can also be used in peacekeeping operations under the same special conditions. These type forces have the equipment, personnel, and discipline required for peacekeeping. If the mission is carefully defined, operations are carefully specified, and the situation is fairly constant, these forces will probably succeed.

However, peacekeeping forces do not normally operate under these conditions. Peacekeeping operations are decentralized, conducted in a continually changing environment, and require a long-term commitment. Under these conditions, forward-deployed forces lack the specialized training and education required to conduct typical peacekeeping operations.

Combat forces, which are not trained in peacekeeping theory and tactics, are restricted to operate in a predictable set-piece pattern as directed by their higher headquarters. This pattern creates a vulnerability in the peacekeeping force that is easily exploited by parties hostile to the force. Additionally, in unfamiliar stressful situations, these forces tend to respond as they would in conventional combat, and not the way they should respond in peacekeeping. Excessive force makes peacekeepers a party to the conflict instead of a neutral third party.

Since forward-deployed and rapid-reaction forces are frequently used to respond in crises, they may find themselves engaged in peacekeeping operations. Although these forces have the personnel, equipment, discipline, and mobility to be used initially, their use must not become permanent. If these type forces are employed initially in peacekeeping, they need to be replaced by specially trained peacekeeping forces before the mission or environment changes.

If committed, the staffs of untrained peacekeeping forces should be augmented with staff officers who are experts in peacekeeping to assist in decisionmaking. This augmentation should stay when the unit is relieved and become the continuity between initially deployed and follow-on forces.

While forward-deployed and rapid-deployment combat forces can be used, their extended use in peacekeeping operations appears to be an inefficient use of combat power. Contingency forces possess more combat power than required for true peacekeeping. The employment of these forces prevents their employment in other contingencies.

Finally, even if untrained peacekeeping forces are committed only for a short time, the huge benefit to non-state actors by humiliating an elite force in front of an aggressive international media, puts the force at high risk. Decisionmakers committing forces must recognize and be willing to accept this risk.



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3d Battalion, 8th Marines Letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps (code HDS-4), 3/CMA/jqs, 5750, Subject: "Command Chronology for the Period 1 January 1982 to 30 June 1982." 21 July 1982.

Field Manual (FM) 100-23. Peace Operations. Washington, DC: Department of the Army. December 1994.

HMM 162 Letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps {code HD}, 5750, Subject: "Command Chronology for the period 1 Jul - 31 Dec 83." 9 January 1984.

22d Marine Amphibious Unit FRAG ORDER 2-83 dtd 212055B FEB 83.

HMM 261 Letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps {code HD}, 5750, Subject: "Command Chronology for the period 1 January 1984 - 30 June 1984." 5 July 1984.

HMM 261 Letter to Commandant of the Marine Corps {code HD}, 5750, Subject: "Command Chronology for the period 31 July 1983 - 31 December 1983." 2 January 1984.

Joint Pub 3-07.3. Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Peacekeeping Operations. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chairman, The Joint Chiefs of Staff. April 1994.

Two Two MAU message to CGFMFLANT, Subject: "Lebanon Rescue Mission," 251705Z Feb 1983.

Two Two MAU message to CGFMFLANT, Subject: "After Action Report for 2d Company, 2d AirASSlt BN LAF." 260615Z May 1983.

Two Two MAU Letter to FMF Atlantic, 09502 3/SEA/gah 5750, Subject: "Human Concerns," 7 May 1983.

U.S. Department of Defense. Report of the DOD Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, October 23, 1983. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 20 December 1983.


Daugherty, Sgt Randy, USMC. "Combined Effort Gets Job Done," Root Scoop, Vol 1 no. 38, 5 January 1984.

Russakoff, Dale. "Disillusionment Marked Marine's Final Letter." Washington Post, 30 August 1983, Sec. A1.

Watson, Douglas. "Not a Combat Situation?" U.S. News and World Report, Oct 3, 1983, 24-25.

"Charlie Company Bugler Sounds Off," Root Scoop, Vol 1 no. 11, 24 June 1983.

"Joint Paradrop Held at Drop Zone Golfball," Root Scoop, Vol 1 no. 15, 22 July 1983.

"Playground a Reality for Beirut Children," Root Scoop, Vol 1 no. 13, 8 July 1983.

Unpublished Theses

Brinkley, Major Phillip L., USA. Tactical Requirements for Peacekeeping Operations. Thesis. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U. S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies, December 1985.

Foraker, Major Gregory W., USAF. Intelligence: A Unique Factor In Low-Intensity Conflict. Thesis. Newport, RI: Naval War College, February 1989.

Hamel, Michael A., Lcdr, USCG. Operation Peace for Galilee: The 1982 Israeli Invasion of Lebanon. Thesis. Quantico, VA: USMC Command and General Staff College, 2 June 1994.

Hobbs, Major Richard A., USMC. The Role of the Marine Amphibious Unit, Special Operations Capable in Low Intensity Conflict.   MSSI Thesis. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, May 1988.

Hogan, Major James P., USAF. Analysis of US Marines in Lebanon: 1982-1984. Thesis. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: U. S. Air Force Command and Staff College, April 1985.

Keenan, LTC Leo E. III, USA. United States Peacekeeping Operations: The Need for Policy and Procedures. Thesis. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U. S. Army War College, March 1993.

Matthews, Lieutenant Colonel John Benson, USMC(ret). United States Peacekeeping in Lebanon 1982-1984: Why it Failed. Doctorial Thesis. Washington State University, May 1994.

Mauer, Major Roger J., USMC. Peacekeeping in Lebanon; Lessons Learned. Thesis. Newport, RI: Naval War College, March 1984.

Molone, Micael D., William H. Miller, Joseph W. Robben. Lebanon: Lessons for Future Use of American Forces in Peacekeeping. Washington, DC: The National War College, 1985.

Taylor, Major Clarence E., USA. Does the Army Have A Peacekeeping Doctrine for the 1990's? Thesis. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U. S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies, June 1992.

Waugh, LCdr David B., USN. Peacekeeping and Principles of Operational Warfare: The U. S. and MNF in Lebanon 1983-4. Thesis. Newport, RI: Naval War College, June 1993.

Willis, Major Jefferey R., USMC. The Employment of U. S. Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984. MSSI Thesis. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, June 1992.

Oral Histories

Amos, Lieutenant Colonel Granville R., USMC. Commanding Officer HMM 261, 22 MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 22 May 1984.

Anderson, Major Steve, USMC. S-3 BLT 2/8, 22 MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 21 May 1984.

Anderson, Lieutenant Colonel Donald F., USMC. Commanding Officer BLT 2/6, 22d MAU at MAU Headquarters, Beirut, Lebanon, interview by Benis M. Frank, 25 May 1983.

Arey, Major Christopher M., USMC. S-3 BLT 3/8, 22 MAU, interview by Benis M. Frank, 17 March 1983.

Barnetson, Major William H., USMC. CO MSSG 32, 32d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 12 January 1983.

Blankenship, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis R., USMC. S-3 32d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 13 January 1983.

Converse, Major George M., USMC. S-3 24th MAU, on USS Iwo Jima, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20 November 1983.

Ettore, 2d Lieutenant Michael L., USMC. 1st Plat Cmdr, F/2/8, 22d MAU, interview by Benis M. Frank, 22 May 1984.

Farmer, Major Jack L., USMC. S-3 32d MAU, interview by Benis M. Frank, 26 May 1983.

_____.S-3 32d MAU at Washington Navy Yard, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20 December 1983.

Faulkner, Colonel James P., USMC. Commanding Officer 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 25 May 84.

Geraghty, Colonel Timothy J., USMC. Commanding Officer of 24 MAU at 22d MAU Headquarters Beirut, Lebanon, interview by Benis M. Frank, 28 May 1983.

_____, on USS Iwo Jima, interview by Benis M. Frank, 20 November 1983.

Guenther, Captain Christopher J., USMC. Commanding Officer Wpns Co, BLT 2/8, 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 22 May 1984.

Johnson, Captain Charles B., USMC. Commanding Officer L Co 3/8, 22d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 16 March 1983.

Johnston, Lieutenant Colonel Robert B., Commanding Officer BLT 2/8, 32d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Ron Spector, 13 January 1983.

Joy, Brigadier General Jim R., USMC. Commanding Officer 22d MAU at Camp Lejeune, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 26 May 1984.

McCabe, Captain Kenneth T., USMC. Commanding Officer Echo Company, 32d MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 14 January 1983.

Stokes, Colonel Thomas M., Jr., USMC. Commanding Officer 24th MAU at Camp Geiger, NC, interview by Benis M. Frank, 15 March 1983.

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