Lebanon's Rayak offers border security training

By Nohad Topalian in Beirut


EU Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen inaugurates the new border management training centre at Rayak air base, alongside Brig. Gen. Amin al-Aram of the Lebanese Army Command. [Photo courtesy of Lebanese Army Command Directorate of Guidance]

A new integrated border management training centre demonstrates the international community's commitment to supporting Lebanese border regiments and security personnel stationed on the Syrian frontier.

The Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (IBM Lebanon) programme is funded by the EU and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development. It works with five Lebanese security agencies.

The Central Training Centre on Border Management and Control, part of this programme, officially opened at Rayak air base on May 29th.

The new centre includes three lecture halls, a library, a software training lab, offices, an administrative centre and accommodation for up to 200 trainees.


A new border management training centre officially opened May 29th at Lebanon’s Rayak air base. [Photo courtesy of Lebanese Army Command Directorate of Guidance]

It will train "newly established land border regiments on the management and control of the land border", Lebanon's Army Command said in a statement.

Training partners include the US, the UK and EU countries, which "possess the technical capabilities and accumulated experience to contribute to the development of training programmes and curricula", the command said.

The centre's key tasks include "training land border regiments on carrying out the operational tasks entrusted to them by the command, and training other security services involved in border control", the statement said.

Inter-agency co-operation

A training course on "the detection of identity impersonators and forged and fake documents" is currently under way, it said.

Given the length of the border and the nature of the terrain, "advanced training and reliance on modern technology will help increase the capabilities of the army", the command statement said.

As the army is unable to deploy troops along the entire length of the border, it must rely on other means to close the gaps that inevitably exist, it said.

Border control is not entrusted to a single agency, so personnel from various agencies are stationed at legal border crossings such as al-Masnaa.

It is essential that there be a mechanism of co-operation between the agencies, and that each knows the powers and functions of the others, as the exchange of experiences and joint training creates harmony and integration, it said.

At illegal crossing points, "the task lies mainly with the land border regiments, and this is where the centre’s role comes to the fore", the command said, noting that security personnel also learn how to deal with border-area residents.

Strengthening border security

The EU will support training "for all border control agencies, and the use of the facility by other donors that support Lebanon", said EU head of operations on governance, security and human rights Rein Nieland.

"The EU’s contribution amounts to about 225,000 euros ($261,165) for the rehabilitation of the integrated border management training centre, as part of a greater commitment to the border management project, whose total value since 2012 has reached about 14 million euros ($16.1 million)," he told Al-Mashareq. "An additional 100,000 euros ($116,075) was spent on the centre's equipment."

"The centre will contribute to strengthening integrated management of the borders in Lebanon," he said.

It also will help facilitate commerce and the movement of people, he added.

"The establishment of this centre at this time comes in response to the Lebanese army’s need to train more land border regiments, which total four in number," said journalist Michel Nasr, who covers security issues for al-Diyar newspaper.

A fifth regiment will be formed soon, he told Al-Mashareq.

The second part of the border programme "calls for completion of construction and equipping observation towers that will be added to the existing 12 towers located along the eastern land border up to the northern border", he said.

Additionally, "land border regiments were provided with winter uniforms, four-wheel drive vehicles and logistical equipment to help them deploy along the border", he said, noting that they also will receive counter-terrorism training.

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