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The Army of Free Lebanon – AFL (Arabic: جيش لبنان الحر transliteration Jaiysh Lubnan al-Horr) or 'Colonel Barakat's Army' (Arabic: جيش بركات transliteration Jaiysh Barakat), also designated Armée du Liban Libre (ALL) and 'Armée du Colonel Barakat' in French, was a predominantly Christian splinter faction of the Lebanese Army that came to play a major role in the 1975-77 phase of the Lebanese Civil War.

Army of Free Lebanon (AFL)
Participant in Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990)
Lebanesearmyfirstflag.png
Army of Free Lebanon flag (1976-78)
ActiveJanuary 1976 – March 1978
Group(s)Lebanese Front
LeadersAntoine Barakat, Fouad Malek, Saad Haddad, Ghazi Ghattas, Samir el-Achkar, Khalil Nader, Mounir Bejjani, Abdallah Hadchiti, Michel Abou Ghanem, Louis Khoury, Makhoul Hakmeh, Wehbeh Katicha
HeadquartersFayadieh (East Beirut)
Size3,000 men[1]
Originated as500 men[citation needed]
AlliesKataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF), Al-Tanzim, Marada Brigade, Tigers Militia, Guardians of the Cedars (GoC), Lebanese Youth Movement (LYM), Tyous Team of Commandos (TTC), Lebanese Forces, Internal Security Forces (ISF), Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
Opponent(s)Lebanese National Movement (LNM), Lebanese Arab Army (LAA), Lebanese Army, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Syrian Army

Contents

EmblemEdit

Upon its formation, the AFL adopted as logo a rectangular (or square) red and blue 'flash' with a stylished white cedar tree in the middle, which was hastily painted on their armoured and transport vehicles. Sometimes the motto 'Free Lebanon' (Arabic: Lubnan al-Horr) written in Arabic script was painted alongside the flash on the hull and turret of the tanks.

OriginsEdit

The AFL began to be established on January 23, 1976 in Beirut by Lebanese Colonel Antoine Barakat who declared loyalty to the then President of Lebanon Suleiman Frangieh. A Maronite from Frangieh's hometown Zgharta, Barakat rose with the troops of the Beirut Command in response for Lieutenant Ahmed Al-Khatib's rebellion two days earlier at the head of the breakaway Lebanese Arab Army (LAA).[2][3] Another officer, the head of Jounieh garrison Major Fouad Malek, supported the Barakat-led faction, as did Major Saad Haddad the commander of the Marjayoun garrison in southern Lebanon.[4] These three formations where eventually integrated into the "Army of Free Lebanon", whose creation was formally announced on March 13, 1976 by Col. Barakat at the Shukri Ghanem Barracks in the Fayadieh district of East Beirut.[5]

StructureEdit

Unit organizationEdit

Headquartered at Shukri Ghanem Barracks, a major military facility situated at Fayadieh in the vinicity of the Ministry of Defense complex at Yarze, the AFL numbered some 3,000 uniformed regulars by 1978, mostly Christian Maronites and Greek-Catholics.[6] Like the LAA, the AFL also maintained a flexible structure unlike the old regular Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), with the bulk of the force comprising some 2,000 soldiers from different Army units assembled into eight independent mixed combat groups (French: Groupements) of roughly company or battalion size.[7] There was no set hierarchy, and rank and seniority meant little; performance in the field and political motivation propelled young Army officers – mostly Lieutenants – into leadership positions within the AFL combat groups. By February 1978, they were structured as follows:

  • Group No 11 (French: Groupement numéro 11) – led by Captain Mounir Bejjani;
  • Group No 12 (French: Groupement numéro 12) – led by Lieutenants Michel Abou Ghanem and Louis Khoury;
  • Group No 14 (French: Groupement numéro 14) – led by Lt. Makhoul Hakmeh;
  • Group No 16 (French: Groupement numéro 16) – led by Lieutenants Abdallah Hadchiti and Ghazi Ghattas;[8]
  • Group No 18 (French: Groupement numéro 18) – led by Lt. Wehbeh Katicha, who replaced Maj. Fouad Malek;[9]
  • Galerie Semaan Battalion – a mechanized unit, also led by Lt. Ghazi Ghattas;[10]
  • A company-sized contingent (subsequently expanded to battalion strength) from the Army Para-commando regiment (Arabic: فوج المغاوير transliteration Fauj al-Maghaweer) led by Captain Samir el-Achkar.[11]

All these units were permantely allocated at Fayadieh, serving under Col. Barakat's direct orders. Outside Beirut, a 200-strong battalion designated the "Akkar Brigade", led by Lt. Khalil Nader[12] was stationed in the Akkar District of northern Lebanon. A 500-strong battalion under the title "Army of Lebanon" (Arabic: Jaiysh Lubnan) was based at the Raymond el-Hayek Barracks in Sarba, north of Jounieh headed by Maj. Malek, whilst another battalion of 700 men led by Maj. Haddad and designated the "MarjayounQlaiaa Formation", was stationed at Marjayoun Barracks.[13][14]

List of AFL commandersEdit

Weapons and equipmentEdit

The AFL was equipped largely from stocks drawn from Lebanese Army reserves, with weapons taken directly from Army barracks and depots or channeled via the Christian rightist militias of the Lebanese Front.

Small-armsEdit

AFL infantry units were issued FN FAL[15] and M16A1 assault rifles;[16] FN MAG and M60 light machine guns were used as squad weapons, with heavier Browning M1919A4 .30 Cal and Browning M2HB .50 Cal machine guns being employed as platoon and company weapons. Officers and NCOs received FN P35 and MAB PA-15 pistols. Grenade launchers and portable anti-tank weapons consisted of Belgian RL-83 Blindicide,[17] M72 LAW and Soviet RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers,[18] whilst crew-served and indirect fire weapons comprised M2 60mm mortars, M30 4.2 inch (106.7mm) mortars,[19] B-10 82mm and M40A1 106mm recoilless rifles.[20]

Armoured and transport vehiclesEdit

Each combat group or fraction fielded conventional armour, infantry and artillery sub-units, provided with Panhard AML-90[21][22] and 33 Staghound armoured cars,[23] AMX-13[24][25] and M41 Walker Bulldog[26] light tanks, four M42 Duster SPAAGs,[27] and tracked M113 or wheeled Panhard M3 VTT armored personnel carriers.[28][29][30] For logistical support, Col. Barakat's troops relied on US Willys M38A1 MD jeeps, US M151A1 jeeps, US Kaiser M715 jeeps, Jeep Gladiator J20 pickup trucks,[31][32] Chevrolet C-10 Cheyenne and Chevrolet C-15 Cheyenne light pickup trucks, and British Land-Rover Mk IIA-III light pickups, plus Chevrolet Series 50 light-duty, Dodge F600 medium-duty, Saviem SM8 TRM 4000 4x4, Berliet GBC 8KT 6x6, British Bedford RL lorries, Soviet KrAZ 255 6x6,[33][34] GMC C7500 heavy-duty trucks and US M35A1 2½-ton 6x6 cargo trucks. These liaison and transport vehicles were also employed as gun-trucks (a.k.a. technicals) in the direct fire support role on AFL ground operations, fitted with heavy machine guns (HMGs), recoilless rifles and anti-aircraft autocannons.[35] Artillery units relied on military trucks and M5A1 artillery tractors to tow its field guns and howitzers.[36]

ArtilleryEdit

Their artillery formations fielded British QF Mk III 25-Pounder field guns, Soviet 2A18 (D-30) 122mm howitzers and French Mle 1950 BF-50 155mm howitzers.[37][38] Six British Bofors 40mm L/60 anti-aircraft guns, six Yugoslav Zastava M55 20mm triple-barreled autocannons, Hispano-Suiza HSS-661 30mm single-barreled AA autocannons, and 24 Soviet ZU-23-2 23mm twin-barreled AA autocannons[39] were also employed in the direct fire supporting role.[40]

The AFL in the Lebanese civil war 1976-78Edit

Closely allied with the Christian rightist militias of the Lebanese Front, the AFL battled the leftist Lebanese National Movement (LNM) militias, the LAA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrilla factions at Beirut, but also fought in northern Lebanon.

On March 5, 1976 some 200 Christian AFL soldiers led by Lt. Khalil Nader – who entitled themselves the "Lebanese Liberation Army" (LLA), and later became the "Akkar Brigade"[41] – from the Jounieh garrison departed without permission from their commanding Officer to their home towns of Al-Qoubaiyat and Andaket in the Akkar District of Northern Lebanon, which were being threatened by LAA attacks and artillery bombardments.[42][43][44][45]

On March 13 at Beirut, the AFL units from the Shukri Ghanem Barracks in Fayadieh under Col. Barakat clashed with the Officer cadets of the adjoining Military Academy, whose Commander supported Brigadier-General Aziz El-Ahdab's failed coup attempt against President Frangieh, despite the fact that some officers from the AFL (Fouad Malek, Wehbeh Katicha, Ghazi Ghattas) had signed a petition pledging their support to Gen. Ahdab's initiative.[46] Later on March 25, Col. Barakat's troops bolstered the hard-pressed Republican Guard battalion and Marada Brigade militiamen loyal to President Frangieh in defending the Presidential Palace at Baabda from a two-pronged combined LNM-Lebanese Arab Army (LAA) ground assault amid intense shelling, though prior to the attack the President had decamped to the safety of Zouk Mikael, near Jounieh, and later to Kfour in the Keserwan District.[47][48][49] They also provided armour and artillery support to the Christian militias on the closing stages of the Battle of the Hotels,[50] during which an artillery barrage fired by a unit under Barakat's command struck the campus of the American University of Beirut at Rue Bliss in the neighboring Ras Beirut district, causing a number of casualties among the students.

On late March–early April 1976 the AFL, aided by the Internal Security Forces (ISF), fought off successfully an attempt by the LAA and the Druze People's Liberation Army (PLA) militia to raid their own Headquarters at the Shukri Ghanem Barracks complex in the Fayadieh district of East Beirut.[51][52] Under the command of Maj. Fouad Malek, AFL units resumed the same roles later in the sieges of the PLO-held Palestinian refugee camps of Jisr el-Basha and Tel al-Zaatar at East Beirut between June and August 1976.[53]

During the Hundred Days' War in early February 1978, the AFL found itself besieged and bombarded by the Syrian Army in their Fayadieh barracks, though they later helped the NLP Tigers and the newly constituted Lebanese Forces' Command in driving the Syrians out from East Beirut.[54]

DisbandmentEdit

On March 1977, the newly elected President of Lebanon Elias Sarkis began slowly to reorganize the battered Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) structure, which had split into four sectarian factions.[55] The first fraction of the AFL to be re-integrated into the official battle order of the re-organized Lebanese Army in June 1977 was the Jounieh garrison, whose commander Fouad Malek was promoted to Colonel and sent to the École de Guerre in Paris, where he deserted in 1978 to become the head of the Lebanese Forces (LF) official representation at the French Capital.[56] In March 1978 at Beirut, Col. Barakat handed over the Fayadieh barracks back to the official authorities, thus effectively signalling the disbandment of the AFL and the return of his troops to the LAF structure. Promoted to Brigadier-General, Antoine Barakat was then appointed as Military Attaché to the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., where he retired. Nearly all the remaining AFL combat group commanders' were rapidly re-integrated into the LAF, which enabled them to pursue their military careers unhindered – Lt. Makhoul Hakmeh eventually rose to the rank of Colonel and went to serve with General Michel Aoun as commander of the 10th Airmobile Brigade during the Elimination War in 1988-1990.

One notable exception was Captain Samir el-Achkar and his commando battalion (Arabic: Maghaweer), who contested the re-integration process. Accused on 23 February 1978 by Colonel Sami El-Khatib, the commander of the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), of being the instigator of the incident that sparked the Hundred Days' War, Capt. el-Achkar refused to be put on trial by a military court on charges of desertion and treason, rebelling a few days later with his troops by establishing the Lebanese Army Revolutionary Command (LARC), another dissident faction of the Lebanese Army closely aligned with the Kataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF) militia led by Bashir Gemayel. The crisis came to an abrupt end on 1 November that year, when the LAF Command ordered a raid by a 300-strong commando detachment from the Counter-sabotage regiment (Arabic: Moukafaha) on the LARC headquarters at Mtaileb in the Matn District, which resulted in the wounding and subsequent death of Capt. Samir el-Achkar, followed by the full re-incorporation of his men into the official Para-commando Regiment's own structure.[57]

A different fate however, awaited the ex-AFL troops of the Marjayoun garrison in the south. By late 1976, pressure from PLO and LNM-LAA militias finally forced Major Saad Haddad to evacuate the town and withdraw unopposed with his battalion to the village of Qlaiaa, close to the border with Israel. Here Maj. Haddad and his men placed themselves under the protection of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), eventually providing the cadre – after merging with local Christian, Shia Muslim and Druze militias, gathered since October 21 into the informal "Army for the Defense of South Lebanon" or ADSL (French: Armée de Défense du Liban-Sud or ADLS)[58] – of the so-called "Free Lebanese Army" (FLA), later to become known as the South Lebanon Army (SLA).[59]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Collelo, Lebanon: a country study (1989), p. 239.
  2. ^ Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon (1989), p. 72.
  3. ^ Barak, The Lebanese Army – A National institution in a divided society (2009), pp. 100-101.
  4. ^ Kechichian, The Lebanese Army: Capabilities and Challenges in the 1980s (1985), p. 20.
  5. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 29.
  6. ^ Collelo, Lebanon: a country study (1989), p. 239.
  7. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 55-57.
  8. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 58.
  9. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 57.
  10. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 16.
  11. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  12. ^ Chamussy (René) – Chronique d’une guerre: Le Liban 1975-1977 – éd. Desclée – 1978
  13. ^ Kechichian, The Lebanese Army: Capabilities and Challenges in the 1980s (1985), p. 20.
  14. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 29-30.
  15. ^ Jenzen-Jones & Spleeters, Identifying & Tracing the FN Herstal FAL Rifle: Documenting signs of diversion in Syria and beyond (2015), pp. 20-21.
  16. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  17. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 16.
  18. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  19. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 21.
  20. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  21. ^ Hamizrachi, The Emergence of South Lebanon Security Belt (1984), pp. 55-89.
  22. ^ Badran, Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (2010), pp. 50-52.
  23. ^ Colonel Barakat's Army Staghound Mk.III armoured car near Binayit el-Béton, East Beirut, March 1976.
  24. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  25. ^ AMX-13 light tank of the Army of Free Lebanon at the siege of Tel al-Zaatar, East Beirut, July 1976.
  26. ^ M41 Walker Bulldog tank of the Army of Free Lebanon in the streets of the Aswek (the old city center of Beirut), c.1976.
  27. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  28. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  29. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 57.
  30. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 29-30.
  31. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 6.
  32. ^ El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks (2008), p. 19.
  33. ^ Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975–1978, p. 9.
  34. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 29.
  35. ^ 1/35 Model Photos of a Lebanese Special Forces AA QF Bofors 40mm gun mounted on a M35A2 Gun Truck.
  36. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 25.
  37. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 29-30.
  38. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  39. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), p. 21.
  40. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), appendix A, table A-6.
  41. ^ Chamussy (René) – Chronique d’une guerre: Le Liban 1975-1977 – éd. Desclée – 1978
  42. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), Appendix B, B-16.
  43. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 45.
  44. ^ Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban (2004), p. 37.
  45. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 23.
  46. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 28-29.
  47. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 46-47.
  48. ^ Barak, The Lebanese Army – A National institution in a divided society (2009), p. 101.
  49. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 30.
  50. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 54; 56-57.
  51. ^ Jureidini, McLaurin, and Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas (1979), pp. 20-23.
  52. ^ Barak, The Lebanese Army – A National institution in a divided society (2009), p. 115.
  53. ^ http://forum.tayyar.org/f8/facts-ag-tal-el-za3tar-28096/index2.html[permanent dead link].
  54. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 72-73.
  55. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 63.
  56. ^ Micheletti and Debay, Les Forces Libanaises, RAIDS magazine (1989), p. 34 (box).
  57. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), pp. 61-63.
  58. ^ Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985) (2012), p. 43.
  59. ^ Chamussy (René) – Chronique d'une guerre: Le Liban 1975-1977 – éd. Desclée – 1978

ReferencesEdit

  • Alain Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban: Du coup d'état de Béchir Gémayel aux massacres des camps palestiniens, Albin Michel, Paris 2004. ISBN 978-2226121271 (in French)
  • Beate Hamizrachi, The Emergence of South Lebanon Security Belt, Praeger Publishers Inc., New York 1984. ISBN 978-0-275-92854-4
  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975–92, Palgrave Macmillan, London 1998. ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Éric Micheletti and Yves Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats, RAIDS magazine n.º41, October 1989 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Itamar Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon, 1970-1985, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1989 (revised edition). ISBN 978-0-8014-9313-3, 0-8014-9313-7
  • Joseph A. Kechichian, The Lebanese Army: Capabilities and Challenges in the 1980s, Conflict Quarterly, Winter 1985.
  • Joseph Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985), Lulu.com, Beyrouth 2012. ISBN 9781291036602, 1291036601 (in French) – [1]
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • N.R. Jenzen-Jones & Damien Spleeters, Identifying & Tracing the FN Herstal FAL Rifle: Documenting signs of diversion in Syria and beyond, Armament Research Services Pty. Ltd., Australia, August 2015. ISBN 978-0-9924624-6-8[2]
  • Oren Barak, The Lebanese Army – A National institution in a divided society, State University of New York Press, Albany 2009. ISBN 978-0-7914-9345-8[3]
  • Paul Jureidini, R. D. McLaurin, and James Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas, 1975-1978, Aberdeen, MD: U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Technical Memorandum 11-79, June 1979.
  • Philipe Naud, La Guerre Civile Libanaise - 1re partie: 1975-1978, Steelmasters Magazine, August–September 2012, pp. 8–16. ISSN 1962-4654
  • Rex Brynen, Sanctuary and Survival: the PLO in Lebanon, Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Samer Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981, Trebia Publishing, Chyah 2012. ISBN 978-9953-0-2372-4
  • Steven J. Zaloga, Armour of the Middle East Wars 1948-78, Vanguard series 19, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1981. ISBN 0 85045 388 7
  • Thomas Collelo (ed.), Lebanon: a country study, Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Headquarters, Department of the Army (DA Pam 550-24), Washington D.C., December 1987 (Third edition 1989). – [4]
  • Tony Badran (Barry Rubin ed.), Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan, London 2010. ISBN 978-0-230-62306-4

Further readingEdit

  • Denise Ammoun, Histoire du Liban contemporain: Tome 2 1943-1990, Fayard, Paris 2005. ISBN 978-2-213-61521-9 (in French) – [5]
  • Leila Haoui Zod, William Haoui, temoin et martyr, Mémoire DEA, Faculté d'Histoire, Université Saint Esprit, Kaslik, Liban 2004. (in French)
  • Jean Sarkis, Histoire de la guerre du Liban, Presses Universitaires de France - PUF, Paris 1993. ISBN 978-2-13-045801-2 (in French)
  • Samir Kassir, La Guerre du Liban: De la dissension nationale au conflit régional, Éditions Karthala/CERMOC, Paris 1994. ISBN 978-2865374991 (in French)

External linksEdit