On September 21, the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) announced that the expeditionary fast transport ship Choctaw County had arrived in Lebanon. The trip marks the first visit by a US Navy Ship to a Lebanese naval base.
In a statement, the NAVCENT said that the ship will be taking part in the first-ever Central Partnership Station (CPS) mission in Lebanon.
The mission in Lebanon was designed to build “partner capacity” through subject-matter-expert exchanges, enhancing interoperability and the military-to-military relationship between the US Navy and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
The two sides will exchange experience on mine countermeasures, disaster response, public health and construction capabilities.
Choctaw County, explosive ordnance disposal technicians and Navy divers, a medical and health engagement team and a Seabee construction battalion will take part in the CPS mission.
“This is a new opportunity for the U.S. Navy to work with our Lebanese counterparts,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, US 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces. “We are ushering in a new era of strengthening and expanding capacity building across the region.”
The US Embassy in Beirut said that the visit of Choctaw County “highlights the strong partnership between the US and the LAF”.
The US and other Western countries, mainly the UK and France, stepped up their support to the LAF following the outbreak of the Syrian war on the hopes of restricting Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon and its access to the border with Syria.
The LAF received loads of military equipment from the US in the last few years. Last April, 55 armored vehicles and trucks were delivered to Lebanon. Despite receiving much support from the US, the army maintains excellent relations with Hezbollah.