DEIR KIFA, Lebanon: The French Reserve Unit of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon welcomed a new leader Thursday.
Col. Loic Mezon transferred his authority as reserve field commander to Col. Emmanuel Charpy in a ceremony that took place in the French unit’s headquarters in the southern village of Deir Kifa, under the patronage of UNIFIL Force Commander Paolo Serra.
Every six months, the unit, which includes 800 personnel, rotates reserve commanders.
UNIFIL’s chief of staff Brig. Gen. Jean-Jacques Toutous delivered a speech on behalf of Serra during the ceremony, in which he stressed that the “French deployment in Lebanon rests on a deep common history.”
“Today’s ceremony symbolizes the continuity and resilience of this commitment between the two countries,” he added.
Addressing the French troops, he said: “Your exceptional contribution to the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandated tasks would not have been possible without your very close cooperation with other UNIFIL contingents.”
“The many joint activities with the Lebanese Armed Forces, such as patrols and new training programs focused at the platoon level, have greatly contributed to advancing UNIFIL strategic dialogue with the LAF, who remain the pillar of security and stability in southern Lebanon,” he said.
He commended the professionalism of the force commander reserve and its accomplishments for UNIFIL as a whole, including the fields of air surveillance, counter rocket-launching operations and Blue Line patrols, as well as civic activities.
The chief of staff also lauded the departing commander’s efforts to enhance the procedures for reserve engagement by deploying units in other battalions and implementing training at the command-post level in close coordination with the other sectors.
He welcomed Charpy, expressing his full confidence in the officer.
At the end of the ceremony, Army commander of the southern Litani River Sector Brig. Gen. Charbel Abu Khalil decorated Mezon with the Order of Merit as a sign of appreciation for his efforts in facilitating cooperation and activity between the French contingent and the Army.
A symbolic military parade for the French troops was held at UNIFIL’s headquarters.
In his speech, Mezon thanked the UNIFIL command and its peacekeepers, stressing that the Lebanese Army was capable of preserving stability in the country and was an institution the Lebanese could count on.