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STEEL STORM – UNIFIL and LAF’s Live Fire Exercises Conclude Successfully

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) today concluded their joint live fire exercise employing armoured assets, machine gun and small arms in an area one kilometer south of the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura, south Lebanon.

The “Steel Storm” exercise is a culmination of dozens of joint exercises conducted monthly between the LAF and UNIFIL peacekeepers. Taking place once or twice per year, it is the only setting where heavy artillery and armoured assets are used in “real life” combat settings using live ammunition. The importance of such an exercise cannot be understated, as it allows for both forces to hone their skills, readiness, cooperation and interoperability.

The exercise was led by UNIFIL’s French-Finnish Force Commander Reserve (FCR) in conjunction with LAF’s 5th Brigade, 7th Brigade and 5th Intervention Regiment elements. Over the course of the five-day exercise various UNIFIL battalions trained separately and together with their LAF counterparts to practice tactics and cooperation in a live fire setting.

UNIFIL Chief of Staff Brigadier General Bruno Helluy stated at today’s final exercise and demonstration that “coordinated drills with LAF units constitute a core element of UNIFIL’s mandate under resolution 1701 and help to build capacity and to improve the mutual trust, partnership, and efficiency of LAF and UNIFIL. This is a key condition to ensure a secure and stable environment in south Lebanon.”

Brigadier General Helluy went on to congratulate all LAF and UNIFIL participating units for their high performance shown during the execution of the firing exercises and the static exhibition that took place before Lebanese Armed Forces representatives and UNIFIL contingent commanders.

The setting of the Steel Storm exercise is strategically located away from populated areas so as to minimize any negative effects on the population in the vicinity. Lebanese Navy fast patrol boats, supported by UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force, ensured safety at sea.