Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun kicked off an official visit to the United States to discuss with officials a number of issues related to counter-terrorism and military cooperation.
The trip is significant because it is taking place after the battle in the Lebanese northeastern border region of Arsal that saw the Lebanese army achieve a decisive and speedy victory against the ISIS terrorist group.
Aoun is visiting the US at the invitation of General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is set to meet with Dunford, as well as General Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command.
Aoun’s trip can be interpreted as a US message that goes beyond Lebanon, especially since American officials repeatedly stress that the Lebanese army alone has the right to defend its country’s borders and fortify internal stability.
Sources monitoring the visit said: “Aoun’s meetings will focus on joint cooperation between Lebanon and the US in combating terror and bolstering US military support to Lebanon.”
They revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun will discuss with officials the Lebanese army’s success in the Arsal operation and his vision of the military’s role in the future. This includes expanding its weapons, human and training capabilities.
He will present to US officials a list of the army’s needs, such as weapons and ammunition, that will assist it in its duties to protect Lebanon’s borders and internal stability, explained the sources.
Other sources revealed that a commemorative celebration will be held in Aoun’s honor at the National Defense University in Washington, one of the most prestigious military universities in the world. The Lebanese army chief had in 2009 attended a one-year international counter-terrorism course at the university.