Lebanese soldiers check equipment unloaded from a U.S. Air Force plane. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army is facing a threat unlike any it has come up against since Lebanon's independence: jihadist groups – not just one but two – seeking to penetrate the country and establish a base in the badlands near the porous border.AsThe Lebanese Army may have eventually retaken the isolated border town, but it did so at great cost – 19 soldiers dead and between 11 and 20 captured – highlighting how under-equipped the military is.At the moment, the Lebanese Army has a fleet of four ancient British-made Hawker Hunters jets – all grounded, two American-made Cessna Caravans and three Bulldog training planes.Some have called for fighter jets, but Hisham Jaber, a former general who taught terrorism and unconventional warfare in the Army during the '90s, said such aircraft would be useless, as Lebanon is so tiny. The deal, if it goes ahead, will give Lebanon six choppers, 77 tanks, 1 million bullets and 37,000 shells of various calibers.The United States is one of the Army's biggest donors and, according to the White House, its support comprises approximately 75 percent of all international security assistance to Lebanon.
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