OPERATIONAL CHAIN OF COMMAND
I. EXERCISE OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY BY THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
A. Principal Findings.
The operational chain of command for the U.S. Multinational Force (USMNF) in Lebanon is illustrated in Figure 3-1. Command authority and responsibility flows from the President to the Secretary of Defense, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Commander in Chief, U.S. Forces Europe (USCINCEUR). In the theater, operational command runs from USCINCEUR to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR), and from CINCUSNAVEUR to Commander, Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT). Operational command flows from COMSIXTHFLT to Commander, Amphibious Task Force (CTF 61), who is designated Commander, U.S. Forces Lebanon. The MAU Commander, CTF 62, is Commander, U.S. Forces Ashore Lebanon; subordinate to him is the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) Commander, who has immediate command of the Marine combat Companies assigned to the MAU. CTF 62 is also Commander, USMNF.
The Commission sought to determine the degree of command involvement in supporting the USMNF throughout the period of its development, with particular emphasis on the initial thirteen months, from September 1982 through 23 October 1983. The several areas of specific concern to the Commission correspond to the major Parts of this report. Detailed findings and discussion on each Part pertain in varying degrees to the findings in this Part.
As has been described in the text addressing the mission and rules of engagement (ROE), each level of the chain of command recognized that the environment in which the USMNF was operating changed from generally benign to increasingly hostile through the spring and summer of 1983. The assigned mission, however, remained unchanged. ROE were modified by USCINCEUR at the request of CTF 62 following the bombing of the U.S. Embassy, but the modifications (at least in CTF 62's view) applied only to USMNF elements providing external security to the Embassy buildings. Although the tasks assigned to the USMNF increased in scope, to include training the LAF, patrolling jointly with them, and eventually providing naval gun fire support to the LAF at Suq-Al-Gharb, the Commission was unable to document any alteration of the original mission. USCINCEUR did recommend
Security measures taken by the USMNF elements at BIA prior to 23 October 1983 are described in detail in PART FIVE of this report. Documentation available to the Commission contains little to indicate that these measures were subject to effective scrutiny by the operational chain of command. In fact, the Commission's inquiry revealed a general attitude throughout the chain of command that security measures in effect ashore were essentially the sole province of the USMNF Commander and that it would somehow be improper to tell him how best to protect his force. As a consequence, the chain of command promulgated no direction to USMNF elements ashore with respect to physical security at BIA prior to 23 October 1983.
The Commission was apprised of a HQ USEUCOM staff element with specific responsibility to analyzing security against terrorist attack. The Special Assistant for Security matters (SASM) went to Beirut following the terrorist bombing of the U.S> Embassy to evaluate the security of the operations of the Office of Military Cooperation (OMC) against terrorist actions. SASM subsequently initiated a number of anti-terrorist actions designed to enhance the security of OMC personnel. (This effort is more fully described in PART NINE of this report.) The SASM survey team was not charged by USCINCEUR to evaluate the anti-terrorist defenses of the USMNF elements at BIA, and did not do so.
Principals and senior staff officers within the operational chain of command visited the USMNF at BIA prior to 23 October 1983. There is no evidence that any visit resulted in recommendations through the chain of command to enhance the security of the USMNF there. (Specific security measures in effect at the MAU compound preceding and at the time of the 23 October 1983 attack are addressed in PART FIVE of this report.)
The Commission holds the view that military commanders are responsible for the performance of their subordinates.
The Commission believes there was a fundamental conflict between the peace-keeping mission provided through the chain of command to the USMNF, and the increasingly active role that the United States was taking in support of the LAF. The Commission believes that as the political/military situation in Lebanon evolved, aggressive follow-up and continuing reassessment of the tasks of the USMNF and the support provided by the chain of command were necessary. As the environment changed, the unique nature of the "presence" mission assigned to the USMNF demanded continuing analysis and the promulgation of appropriate guidance to assist the USMNF Command to take those actions necessary to protect his force.
Although the documentation gathered by the Commission clearly established that every echelon of the chain of command was concerned with the safety of the USMNF in the deteriorating political/military environment of Beirut, the Commissions' investigation revealed a lack of systematic and aggressive chain of command attention to the anti-terrorist security measures in use by the USMNF on the ground at BIA. This was in sharp contrast to the direct involvement of the USCINCEUR SASM team in the security posture of the OMC in Beirut against terrorist attack. The prompt, positive action taken by USCINCEUR to improve the security of the OMC is illustrative of the aggressive command involvement that could and should have been directed toward the USMNF as well. We note here and in our findings and discussion on terrorism in PART NINE of this report that USCINCEUR has taken action subsequent to the 23 October 1983 attack to include the security of the USMNF in the charter of the SASM. A further example of how its aggressive involvement might have assisted the USMNF Commander, was the positive action of the chain of command prior to 23 October 1983 to enhance the protection of ships of CTF 61.
The Commission is fully aware that the entire chain of command was heavily involved in the planning for, and support of, the USMNF. The Commission concludes, however, USCINCEUR, CINCUSNAVEUR, COMSIXTHFLT and CTF 61 did not initiate actions to effectively ensure the security of the USMNF in light of the deteriorating political/military situation in Lebanon. in short, the Commission found a lack of effective command supervision of the USMNF prior to 23 October 1983.
The Commission concludes that the failure of the USCINCEUR operational chain of command to inspect and supervise the defensive posture of the USMNF constituted tacit approval of the security measures and procedures in force at the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983.
The Commission further concludes that although it finds the USCINCEUR operational chain of command at fault, it also finds that there was a series of circumstances beyond the control of these commanders that influenced their judgement and their actions relating to the security of the USMNF.
The Commission recommends that the Secretary of Defense take whatever administrative or disciplinary action he deems appropriate, citing the failure of the USCINCEUR operational chain of command to monitor and supervise effectively the security measures and procedures employed by the USMNF on 23 October 1983.