Chapter 5:
Beirut IV--Circumstances Change, 'Presence' Remains
15 February-29 May 1983

Colonel Mead had been selected for promotion to brigadier general in January 1983 and there was speculation that he would be "frocked"1 so that he would be equal in grade to the heads of the French and Italian MNF units in Beirut. As he later explained, if he had been promoted in January, and had he kept his command, the MAU would possibly have had to be upgraded to become a Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB), withe possible addition of another battalion landing team.*

In the minds of many, the prospect of the MAU becoming a MAB was not so far-fetched, for it was again speculated that if the Israelis pulled out of their positions and headed south, the void would have to be filled by extending the Marines to the south. That would require the MAU to be augmented by at least a BLT. As it turned out, all of this speculation was for naught. The 22d MAU remained a MAU and Colonel Mead was not promoted until June, after he returned to Camp Lejeune and relinquished command.

Like the 24th's turnaround, the 32d MAU's time between deployment was also of short duration. The 32d MAU returned to Camp Lejeune on 24 November, detached the BLT and the squadron, sent its personnel on holiday leave, joined up its new elements, and left Morehead City for Beirut on 27 January 1983.

The 32d Marine Amphibious Unit was redesignated 22d MAU on 1 December 19822 for its second trip to Beirut and began its predeployment training with Amphibious Squadron 2, Commodore (Captain, USN) George Bess, commanding. The MAU had already been joined by its new ground and air element, BLT 2/6, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Anderson, and HMM-264, Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Kalata in command. MSSG 22 had a new commander, Major Albert E. Shively The MAU-Phibron combination quickly melded into a solid Navy-marine Corps team, as Colonel Mead's Marines looked forward to their Beirut deployment; 45 percent of the MAU staff had been there before. The intelligence and operations section continually monitored the Lebanon situation as well as the situation in the Caribbean, either or both of which might impact on the 22d MAU's deployment.

Particularly busy during the predeployment period was the MAU Service Support Group, which is tasked with providing all the combat service support required by a deployed MAU. While its strength is generally only 278-280 Marines, the MSSG is a uniquely diversified organization made up varied platoons and detachments from the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, the 2d Marine Division, and the 2d Force Service Support Group--the three major commands of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic.

The MSSG is responsible for management of the MAU's LFORM (Landing Force Readiness Materiel) block, as well as the Operational Deployment block, which itself requires seven days to be moved from Camp lejeune to Morehead City and then loaded on board Phibron shipping and stowed properly.3 In the case of the November 1982 to February 1983 deployment of the 24th MAU, MSSG 24, under Major Buckner, devised a Rapid Deployment Block made up of anticipated high usage items which would be needed ashore. When the block was brought to the beach in Lebanon and warehoused, it provided 79 percent of the items needed by the 24th MAU. The ready availability of those items cut down on the number of logistic support flights needed, freeing the squadron's aircraft for other chores.4

To ensure self-sufficiency, the MSSG also included a maintenance platoon comprised of Marines with highly specialized talents. "You name it, the maintenance platoon is charged with fixing whatever breaks."5

With all Marines and equipment loaded, the Phibron steamed out of Morehead City on 27 January on board the Guadalcanal (LPH 7), Phibron flagship; Raleigh (LPD 1); the Pensacola (LSD 38); the Spartanburg County (LST 1192); and its sister ship, the Fairfax County (LST 1193). THe first night out, the Phibron experienced high seas and 60-knot winds, which resulted in, as Colonel MEad noted later, "Marines getting their sealegs fast."6

On 7 February, the 24th MAU liaison officer arrived on the Guadalcanal with turnover packages for Colonel Mead, while two days later, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald R. Rice, 22d MAU executive officer, led an advance

* Colonel Mead comments to author, 23May83. However, when Brigadier General Jim. R. Joy became CO of the 22d MAU in November 1983, the 22d remained a MAU.


Photo curtesy of Francoise de Mulder

During a quiet period, 22d MAU Marines fill sandbags near Lebanese University.

party into Beirut. As the executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rice would be the 22d MAU's representative to the twice-weekly meeting of the MNF Military Committee, and at the same time, he would maintain contact with the defense attache at the embassy and the EUCOM liaison officer.7 The relief in place of the 24th MAU began on 14 February and was completed without incident on 15 February, when Colonel Mead once again assumed full responsibility as commander of the U.S. contingent to the Multi-National Force, Beirut, and Commander Task Force 62.8 That same day, he hosted Sixth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Rowden and Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CinCUSNavEur) at the MAU headquarters.

The troops immediately settled into a routine of daily mobile patrols in east and west Beirut, and foot patrols in the airport sector and in Baabda. The 22d MAU resumed crosstraining LAF units where the 24th MAU had left off.9 The Marines were drilled and redrilled on the rules of engagement, including "what-if" sessions in which all possible contingencies were hopefully covered. In addition, each Marine was issued wallet-size card with the following rules printed in all capital letters:

Guidelines of Rules of Engagement

  1. When on the post, mobile or foot patrol, keep loaded magazine in weapon, bolt closed, weapon on safe, no round in the chamber.

  2. Do not chamber a round unless told to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.

  3. Keep ammo for crew served weapons readily available but not loaded. Weapon is on safe.

  4. Call local forces to assist in self-defense effort. Notify headquarters.

  5. Use only minimum degree of force to accomplish any mission.

  6. Stop the use of force when it is no longer needed to accomplish the mission.

  7. If you receive effective hostile fire, direct your fire at the source. If possible, use friendly snipers.

  8. Respect civilian property; do not attack it unless absolutely necessary to protect friendly forces.

  9. Protect innocent civilians from harm.

  10. Respect and protect recognized medical agencies such as Red Cross, Red Crescent, etc.


The Marines were expected to know and understand those 10 rules as thoroughly as the 11 general orders for guard duty which they had learned in recruit training, and as they knew their names, ranks, and social security numbers.

When the 22d MAU returned to Beirut, it had the experiences of its previous deployment on which to base its needs and plans. Essentially, the Marines knew the terrain and the area they were going into. The 24th had improved the positions their predecessors had dug and extensively sandbagged. Filling sandbags is one way of keeping idle young Marines from becoming bored, as well as keeping them in tiptop physical condition, and in all the months of the Marine deployment in Lebanon, sandbags beyond count were filled. One task the 22d intended to undertake, but never had the time for, o cut additional fields of fire, keeping the brush down in front of some of the positions on the eastern sector of the airport in order that Marines in their fighting holes could see who was shooting at them, and from what direction, when they came under fire.

During their time in Beirut, Colonel Stokes' 24th MAU Marines had emplaced artillery in their northern sector, the boundary between Marines and the Italians. They had also improved the sandbagging in the beach area, as well as improved and weather-proofed positions at the Lebanese University, which, in the words of one Marine, had been continually "raped" by one faction or another during the previous years of fighting. The troops in perimeter positions lived in sandbagged general purpose tents, and when the 22d MAU landed in February, it brought with it additional lumber to strongback the tents, and replacement tentage.10

Based on what he and BLT 2/6 operations officer Major Michael L. Rapp perceived as a changed political situation while analyzing their own mission, Major Farmer, now the 22d MAU S-3, decided new positions needed to be added to the eastern perimeter of the airport in the Hay es Salaam area, which contained a wholly Shiite village. The Marine tank park was also relocated to a site where the armor could be more quickly responsive when needed. Similarly, the amtracs were relocated and dispersed, so that they cold function as personnel carriers, which they actually did sometime later when an Italian convoy was attacked and the Marines were called on for assistance.11

The 22d brought in only a small amount of cold weather gear for Beirut IV, because Lebanese winters are usually mild. As the cold weather intensified a short time after the landing, Major Shively, the MSSG commander, purchased commercial space heaters in the open market to heat the Marines' living quarters. Field kitchens were set up in a centralized field mess for the MAU and BLT headquarters and company-sized galleys were set up at the perimeter positions. The Raleigh and Guadalcanal provided breakfast and dinner respectively until 28 February, when the central dining facility ashore became operations.12

Photo courtesy of Francoise de Mulder
Marines take time out for physical training on top of a building at Lebanese University.


Photo courtesy of Francoise de Mulder
A patrol leader briefs his Marines before they begin patrolling in the vicinity of the American sector.

Colonel Mead knew that he wanted to bring a larger supply maintenance block ashore in his third deployment, instead of leaving it on shipboard. of primary consideration in this was the fact that the 22d MAU's artillery and tanks would be landed and maintained ashore.13 Because of inclement weather, it took two weeks to unload all Phibron shipping. Within four days after the turnover, instead of a normally mild winter, Lebanon began to experience its worst weather in 40 years. The temperature dropped to the low 40s at the airport, with o 70-knot winds. These conditions prevailed until early April and made life difficult both ashore and afloat.14

The political situation facing the 22d MAU in February had also changed for the worse. It appeared as though the various factions in Lebanon were choosing sides, and that the terrorist threat had increased its level slightly since Beirut II.15 In speaking of Beirut IV, Major Farmer saw the 22d MAU's mission as 80 percent political and 20 percent military. He saw no indications that the Marines would move from their airport positions. "The only additional operational requirements that we had that I did not have the first time I was in country was an increased patrolling effort and the training of the Lebanese Armed Forces."16

LAF training was coordinated by the MAU headquarters, but was actually conducted by BLT, squadron, and MSSG Marines. The training syllabus

A HMM-264 CH-46 helicopter lands in the mountain snow to evacuate survivors of the severe February 1983 storm which hit Lebanon, disrupting almost all transportation.


continued to stress the basic military skills the 24th MAU had taught. In addition, Marines trained the Lebanese in diesel mechanics, but trained Lebanese tankers in basic armor techniques only, since the LAF had no tanks yet. Later, a U.S. Army Mobile Training Team arrived relieved the MAU of some of its training chores.

Conducting patrols in a potentially hostile environment also had training benefits for the Marines. Ordered to conduct a patrol within a certain area, a patrol leader would select routes in conjunction with a Lebanese liaison officer. (Over time, patrol routes and times would be varied to keep terrorists from detecting patters.) The Marine patrol leader would next go through the doctrinal troop leading steps, organizing and conducting the patrol, and would give a thorough report afterwards. Initially, the patrols of the 22d MAU were conducted without incident.

On 20 February, before the MAU could settle into a regular routine, a heavy snowfall in the mountain area of Lebanon isolated a number of villages and stranded many travellers. President Gemayel requested MNF assistance in rescuing approximately 200 Lebanese trapped near Dahr al Baydar, about 20 kilometers east of Beirut. The next day, the MAU committed both helicopter and motorized/mechanized equipment to the rescue efforts, but Lebanese officials had to obtain Syrian clearance before the MAU could move, because the afflicted areas were behind Syrian lines.17

Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani
Following the winter storm in February 1983--one of the worst in the history of Lebanon--22d MAU LVTP-7 assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) were employed in the evacuation of snowbound civilians.

When Syrian approval came through, two HMM-264 helicopters attempted to fly to the rescue site but were turned back because of heavy icing conditions. Meanwhile, the Marines' amtracs were staged at the Lebanese Ministry of Defense building waiting for the Syrians to clear an American surface rescue attempt towards Dahr al Baydar. At the same time, General Tannous told the MNF that its assistance was needed in the mountains approximately 40 kilometers northeast of Beirut, where there were no Syrians.

At 0445 on 22 February a column of nine amtracs headed for Dahr al Baydar to join Lebanese Red Cross personnel. The ground rescuers first set out for Qataba, while two Marine helicopters flew directly to Dahr al Baydar. One UH-1N reaching a mile-high landing site, found itself in a precarious situation. Just prior to touching down, the cockpit instruments warned that a fire control radar was locked on the Huey. Despite this threat, the pilot landed and then the lock disappeared. Five poorly dressed Syrian soldiers came up the Marine helicopter, offered the pilot and co-pilot some coffee, and told them that a few Lebanese in stranded vehicles were located not more than a kilometer away. The first car the pilots checked had been there for three days in high winds and sub-freezing weather. Its two passengers were dead. Lieutenant Colonel Kalata, the squadron commander, directed the second helicopter, a CH-46, to land in another very difficult landing zone to evacuate four survivors. Both aircraft returned to the Ministry of Defense to unload the evacuees. After refueling, they headed to Qataba to coordinate rescue efforts with the mechanized column still en route.18

At the same time, Italian and French columns were attempting similar rescues. The Italians started moving along the Damascus highway, but were stopped by the Syrians 10 kilometers short of their destination, perhaps for political reasons or perhaps because the Syrians realized the rescue attempt was futile. The French, like the Marines, had headed for the mountainous area northeast of Beirut.

En route to Qataba, the Marines' mechanized column encountered deep snow, blocked roads, and extremely difficult switchbacks. In many cases, amtracs had only part of their tread on the road. The rest


Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani
22d MAU assault amphibious vehicles laboriously make their way over narrow mountain roads on a rescue mission to recover Lebanese civilians stranded in the heavy snowstorm.

hung over the edge of the road, balanced precariously over a straight 300-400 foot drop into a deep gulley.19

On 24 February, the rescue mission ended. All units returned to their bases having won the gratitude of many Lebanese people. Later, after the snow began to melt, the Bekaa Valley flooded. Many Lebanese died and many others were placed in danger, and the Government of Lebanon borrowed some Marine equipment for its rescue efforts. The MAU loaned the LAF small boats from its reconnaissance platoon.20

These flood relief and rescue attempts by the three MNF units seemed to draw them more closely together. According to Colonel MEad, relations were cordial with the French, warm with the Italians, and neighborly with the British. In addition:

There were more experiences facing us in the near term, however, that would bind the MNF commanders together in trust, respect, and friendship. Italian Gen [Franco] Angioni had been in Beirut since August; Gen [Michel] Gatin, a French Marine, had relieved Gen [Jacques] Granger, a Legionnaire, in November; and British LtCol [John] Cochrane had only recently arrived. A most unique situation existed wherein there was no formal command relationship for the MNF. Our task became one of close coordination with each other, which was initially worrisome for old soldiers.21

Meanwhile, crosstraining continued with the Multi-National Force units as well as the LAF. The Italians participated in parachute jumps with members of the ANGLICO and Air Delivery Platoon detachment and the Phibron's underwater demolition team. Preparations were also made for future Marine Corps/French Marine crosstraining in amphibious operations.

Throughout February, Lieutenant Colonel Rice routinely attended a number of meetings at the American Embassy to exchange information and coordinate the MAU's activities with the embassy's. This was especially important in light of the strong diplomatic overtones of the Marines' mission. Rice also attended the twice-weekly MNF military coordination meetings at the Presidential Palace, and either he or Colonel Mead would attend the Political-military Coordination Committee meeting, also held twice weekly at the Presidential Palace.

Colonel Mead hosted, briefed, and took VIPs on tours of MAU positions. On 17 February, Senator Roger W. Jepsen and his party arrived in Beirut. Two days later, Congressmen Jack Edwards, Anthony C. Beilenson, Carroll Campbell, Jr., Bernard J. Dwyer, Clarence


E. Miller, George M. O'Brien, Neal Smith, and Jack Hightower similarly landed at Beirut International Airport.22

The MAU's primary concern remained the terrorist threat. The primary need was for intelligence. Recognizing the danger that terrorists posed even before he led his command overseas, Colonel Mead requested from FMFLant a team of intelligence specialists to make an intelligence survey after the 22d MAU arrived in Beirut. The team arrived on 27 March and remained until 5 April.23 In late April, when Vice Admiral Rowden, Sixth Fleet commander, visited his Task Force 61 and 62 commanders, s Sixth Fleet survey team accompanied him to review the intelligence setup.24

The Marines continued to perceive that their best defense was their posture of neutrality, so that a Muslim perception of U.S. neutrality vis-a-vis the Israelis and the Palestinians would be maintained. The Marines also recognized that the Shiites in Hay es Salaam seemed to prefer the situation that had existed since the American landings, and were being quite helpful. "They . . . helped out in providing some intelligence information which would help us in guarding against the terrorist threat."25

The shuttle diplomacy of Ambassadors Habib and Draper and Secretary of State George P. Shultz sought to obtain mutual agreement through which Syrian, Israeli, and PLO forces would leave Lebanon.62 Marine Corps helicopters flew the diplomates from one Middle East capital to another. At the same time, Multi-National Force units began requiring from each other and from the LAF more intelligence reports from human sources (HUMINT). The MAU was becoming increasingly concerned about possible terrorist activities beyond the area immediately adjacent to its positions. The Marines recognized that in an urban terrorist environment, where conditions border on insurgency, HUMINT resources are invaluable. In the spring of 1983, however HUMINT information was just not available.27 The MAU also maintained liaison with the Government of Lebanon, Lebanese intelligence services, Lebanese security forces, and Lebanese police, all of whom provided the Marines with bits of information. There was, nevertheless, a feeling that the Lebanese were not sharing everything they had.

The French MNF had its own human source intelligence network and provided the MAU with some intelligence that added substance to what the Marines already knew.28 From the beginning, the MAU had multiple indications of being faced with an imminent terrorist threat. "An indication could be a telephone call, a letter . . . sent from one Lebanese organization to another, [or] a Lebanese civilian who would come forward with information."29

Based upon its mission and the limitations placed

The Multi-National Force commanders meet to discuss mutual problems of peacekeeping and defense, left to right: BGen Franco Angioni, Italy; Col James M. Mead, United States; BGen Michel Datin, France; and LtCol. John C. Cochrane, Great Britain.


on the disposition of its forces by diplomatic considerations, the Marines could not go out to the countryside to confirm the threat reports. According to Major Farmer, considerable disinformation was published or broadcast by warring Lebanese factions. On numerous occasions, he was told that the MAU going to be attacked by mortars or artillery at a given time. Such information was even broadcast over the local Phalangist radio station, the Voice of Lebanon.

The Marines consistently responded to these threats knowing that they were vulnerable to terrorist attack. In order to conduct daily business, the MAU felt that it had to take this risk otherwise it might just as well have returned to its ships, or dug in deeply.

Lebanese sources usually provided the best HUMINT. It was impossible, however, to determine how much of this information was valid because the Marines had no feedback system for assessing the results of these actions. Marine response to HUMINT tips may have thwarted dozens of terrorists; or the Marines may have been batting near zero. They just couldn't tell which was the case.

Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, the BLT commander, was particularly concerned about the shortfall in HUMINT. He noted:

My 2 [intelligence officer] can tell me what's going on in the Bekaa Valley and he can tell me what's going on in Tripoli, and he can tell me what's going on in this, that, and the other. We have no foggy idea of what's going on right outside our gate. We have no capability of tapping that and understanding how those people out there are feeling about us, there's anything going on. That's one of my gest problems and that is one of the things I don't know exactly how we solve.30

Marine response to threats consisted of reinforcing positions; restricting their activities outside of perimeter to patrolling only; increasing the number of patrols; digging in further; coordinating with the Lebanese for additional external security of MAU positions, for which the LAF was responsible; and coordinating with other MNF units for mutual security and mutual defense. The MAU would also increase its alert status and conditions.

In March, prompted by the stalled diplomatic negotiations, the 22d MAU augmented its airport perimeter defenses.The Marines watched the pace and results (or lack thereof) of the shuttle talks with some interest. No matter what transpired, they would be affected. Additionally,k several other events occurred this month which had a bearing on the MAU's mission.

Despite the MAU awareness of increasing terrorist threats to its patrols, it continued sending them out daily. On 12 March, a foot patrol in Baabda was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint. The patrol leader was told that Marines were not supposed to be in that area. The Marines maneuvered around the checkpoint and continued their patrol. That afternoon, a second patrol in Baabda was challenged by the Israelis just before it re-entered Marine positions. As that patrol, too, maneuvered around the checkpoint and returned to friendly lines, it was verbally harassed by the Israelis.31 These events were reported up the chain of command. It was obvious that these confrontations could not continue and Colonel Mead took the matter up with Ambassador Habib.

Mr. Habib then met with Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Arens, and told him that the MAU commander would personally lead the patrol through the Israeli checkpoint the next time it tried to stop a Marine in the execution of his duties. The Baabda patrols were temporarily suspended for several days until the matter of challenges were clarified.32

Though not in the operational chain of command leading down to the MAU (except as a member of the Joint CHiefs of Staff), General Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps, closely monitored all developments in Lebanon. The latest harassment of the Marines compelled him to write a letter on 14 March to the Secretary of Defense in which he demanded that ". . . firm and strong action" be taken to stop Israeli forces from putting the Marine and Army officers in ". . .life threatening situations that are time, orchestrated, and executed for obtuse Israeli political purposes." General Barrow was concerned not only with the harassment of the Marine patrols but also the threats to Marine and Army officers assigned to the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization in Lebanon.

The Secretary of Defense supported General Barrow's position by forwarding the Commandant's complaint to Secretary of State Schultz, who took the matter up with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, then visiting in Washington.

On 24 March, following publication of the Commandant's letter and diplomatic representations made to the Israeli government, Colonel Mead, Deputy Chief of Mission Pugh, and Marine Colonel Cornwill R. Casey, the EUCOM liaison officer, met with Israeli General Lifkin, and ". . . discussed the exchange of patrol information between 22d MAU and the IDF as a possible solution to avoiding further contacts."33 Once this procedure was adopted, there were few further incidents.

A telephone line was installed linking the MAU position


22d MAU Marines of a BLT 2/6 patrol, rifles at the ready and rounds chambered, take co behind construction equipment on the coastal road south of Beirut after having been attacked on 16 March 1983. The white-helmeted soldier and the one with dark glasses are soldiers belonging to the French contingent, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). THey happened to be passing by at the time of the incident.

at Lebanese University with the Israeli company position across the Sidon Road. A direct radio/telephone link was established between Colonel Mead and General Lifkin.34 This was in addition to the IDF emergency radio net, already manned by all MNF contingents.

In reporting to FMFLant, Colonel Mead noted that this meeting with General Lifkin had been serious and professional and that the Marine Corps-Israeli problems in Beirut were apparently defused. More ominously he noted that "[Terrorist] threat increases as diplomatic situation stagnates."35

Whether or not a cause-and-effect relationship existed with the diplomatic situation, the terrorist threat seemed to escalate in March, influenced by several factors. The Syrians, in the wake of their earlier battering by the Israelis, had been re-equipped by the Soviet Union with better and more modern weapons. Syrian troops had been re-trained and reinforced. In addition, PLO gunmen had infiltrated into the Beirut area. Weather conditions had also improved by the end of March, providing a more congenial climate for terrorist activities. Marine staff officers anticipated a change in the threat for it appeared that individual units, organizations, and sects in the Beirut area were girding up to protect their vested interests. The terrorist acts that were to come in succeeding months were ". . . symptoms of what was actually taking place organizationally to the infrastructure of the local Palestinian sects and organizations."36

Meanwhile, Lebanese reaction to the presence of the MNF in Beirut ranged from total acceptance to relative indifference, or so it seemed. A harbinger of change came dramatically on the night of 15 March, however, when an Italian mobile patrol was ambushed by persons unknown. One Italian soldier was killed and nine others wounded. The next day, a hand grenade was thrown from a second-story window of


an apartment at a Marine foot patrol in Ouzai, north of the north-south runway of Beirut International Airport. Five Marines sustained superficial wounds, and were helicoptered to the Guadalcanal for treatment, subsequently returning to duty. On 18 March, General Tannous decorated each with the Lebanese Medal of War and the Medal of Injury.

Shortly after receiving word of the attack, a Marine reaction force was on the scene, as were Italian and LAF troops. It was not immediately determined which faction had attacked the Marines, but the Lebanese arrested more than 100 individuals. Subsequently, a Lebanese citizen who supported the Amal faction was tried and convicted of the grenade attack and sentenced to death.37

The Marine force was next activated in the early morning hours of 17 March at the request of the Italian MNF to seal off the airport after the Italian command post was hit by small arms fire. This was still another example of the closer relationship being engendered between Multi-National Force contingents. In April, there would be a greater demonstration of this international camaraderie.

The Marines--and the French, Italians, and British--were now facing an increased threat to the Multi-National Force. On 25 March, 22d MAU Marines began conducting all patrols with loaded magazines inserted in their weapons, as authorized by the Rules of Engagement issued in February. To tighten their security, as well, all mobile patrol routes were alerted on 27 March. Three days later, the MAU suspended foot patrols in Baabda, but at the same time, it increased mobile patrols in that area.38

In March, Lieutenant General John H. Miller, commanding general of FMFLant, the MAU's parent command in the Marine Corps chain, arrived in Beirut. With his party was Major General Bernard E. Trainor, the Director of the Plans Division and soon to be Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans, Policies, and Operations at Headquarters Marine Corps. The purpose of the visit was to talk with Colonel Mead, Ambassador Dillon, and General Tannous, and visit the Marines of the MNF. Later in the month, Colonel Mead was visited by additional congressional parties, including Representatives Lyle Williams on the 25th, and Geraldine A. Ferraro and Barbara A. Mikulski on the 29th, and Patricia Schroeder on the 31st.

Copyright 1983. Steve Kelly. Union-Tribune Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission.


Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani
Hospital Corpsman 2d Class Donald E. Sagamang is hugged by Ali Mohomed in the Hay es Salaam area of Beirut. The Navy medic saved the elderly Lebanese man's life after he suffered a heart attack when the corpsman was on patrol with a unit from BLT 2/6. On 29 March 1983, during a subsequent patrol. Mohamed recognized and embraced the American sailor.

Throughout the month, the Marines continued training LAF units and cross-training with the French Marines, while HM-264 pilots flew "Cammie Cab Company" missions between israel and Lebanon, and Between Beirut and Larnaca. The 22d MAU also continued the medical community assistance program established earlier by the 24th MAU. By the end of the month, Navy medical personnel had treated 279 Lebanese patients.

In his weekly report to FMFLant for the period 2-8 April, Colonel Mead commented that the situation in Beirut had become unusually quiet.39 In the first weeks of the month, he hosted and provided orientation briefing to Congressman Louis Stokes and the Deputy CinCEur, General William Y. Smith. The situation didn't remain quiet for long, however. April also brought terrorist attacks on the French and Italian contingents of the MNF, resulting in the death of another Italian soldier. On the night of the 17th, a Marine sentry on duty at the Company F command post was fired upon by an unknown assailant. For the first time in the deployments, Marines returned fire, but with unknown results. The enemy round ripped off the cargo pocket of the Marine's utility trousers, but luckily missed his leg.

The sense of accomplishment following the apparent

Photo courtesy Marine Security Guard School The American Embassy in west Beirut, as it appeared before the April 1983 bombing.


Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani
An aerial view of the American Embassy as heavy cranes continue to remove rubble from the upper floors on 21 April, following the terrorist bombing three days earlier.

successes of Beiruts I and II was diminishing in the face of the increasing terrorist threat. But no one expected the catastrophic bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut on 18 April. This vicious act was perpetrated by a terrorist driving a van, reportedly stolen from the Embassy in june 1982. The van carried a 2,000-pound load of explosives. Once the driver had driven past a lone sleeping Lebanese guard, he came to a halt in the lobby of the building where the van exploded with great force. The blast tore through the front portion of the seven-story Embassy, killing 63 occupants. These included 17 Americans, one of whom was Corporal Robert V. McMaugh, a member of the Marine Security Guard detachment at the embassy, who was manning Post No. 1 in the main lobby.

USMC Photo by GySgt Jimmy C. Hickman
Nighttime clearing operations at the Embassy. The arrow points to Ambassador Dillon's top-floor office, which he occupied when the bomb exploded.

While it undoubtedly heard the explosion, being only about four miles from the Embassy, the MAU headquarters staff first learned of the bombing when a staff sergeant from the S-3 Section, who had just left the Embassy two minutes before the explosion, called to report what had happened. Shortly thereafter, BLT 2/6 provided a reaction company to secure the area. All available corpsmen were also dispatched to the Embassy to treat the injured, while two surgical


USMC Photo by GySgt Jimmy C. Hickman
A somewhat disheveled Sgt Luis G. Lopez, of the Marine Security Guard detachment, stands guard outside the embassy immediately after its bombing.

teams from the Phibron were sent ashore to assist the staff of American University Hospital.

Colonel Mead arrived within 20 minutes after the explosion to find that General Datin, in whose sector the Embassy was located, was already on the scene guarding it with his French Marines, they had cordoned off the area and had begun initial rescue efforts. General Datin generously offered to place his men under the operational control of Colonel Mead, an offer graciously made and gratefully accepted. As soon as the U.S. Marine reaction company arrived, it relieved the French and took up the security detail. For the next two weeks, the MAU Marines were to be kept quite busy.

The MAU and then the LAF joined the French in the area cordon. The BLT established a 24-hour security guard as the rescue and clean-up operations continued. All MAU Marines on shore served in security or logistical duties at some time or another outside the Embassy because they were needed and also to bring the realities of terrorism to them.

Some of the MAU Marines did not get more than three or four hours of sleep a night during the two-week period immediately following the blast. They would get up to go on patrol, return to their positions, ". . . and might get one or two hours to take care of personal matters and so on, have chow, and go back out on the lines, standing post around the security effort at the embassy site."40

The initial reaction of the Marines to this disaster when they arrived at the site and saw the devastation was one of absolute anger. Said Colonel Mead later, they also asked, "'How dare anyone strike the U.S. Embassy?' They were angry. And . . . they were appalled by the magnitude. They were frustrated because they couldn't do anything about it. And who do you lash out at? Then the next reaction was, 'Gee, this could happen to me.'"41 And then, according to Colonel Mead, the Marines ". . . dealt with their own mortality,

Department of Defense (USMC) Photo
American Ambassador to Lebanon Robert S. Dillon points out bomb damage to Under Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger as Col Mead looks on.


Copyright 1983. Pat Oliphant. Universal Press Syndicate. Reprinted with permission.

and they matured almost on the spot, each Marine."42

There wasn't much time for such introspection, however, as one company(-) was pressed into securing a perimeter immediately around the remains of the Embassy building. Together with the Embassy's Marine security guard, 22d MAU Marines methodically searched the rubble to recover whatever classified material could be found and to verify that none was left after the search. Most of the security guard detachment had been in the building when the bomb exploded and were temporarily stunned. Nonetheless, they "performed magnificently" according the General Mead.43 The next morning, at 0500, members of the detachment raised the American flag over the Embassy's ruins at Ambassador Dillon's request.

The MAU was somewhat shorthanded at this time, because 136 Marines were on the Raleigh for a port visit to Athens, and 125 more were at Camp Des Garrigues, a French Army base near Numes, France for training and liberty. The two groups rejoined the MAU on the 16th and 18th respectively.

Soon after the dust of the explosion settled, and it became apparent that the building was no longer habitable, British Ambassador Sir David Roberts, acting on his own authority, offered working spaces in the British Embassy for the American Embassy's political, military, and consular sections. The British Embassy was located on the Corniche, a major Beirut

USMC Photo by GySgt Jimmy C. Hickman
Marine guard post outside of the British Embassy


Nighttime security post established on the Corniche outside the Durrafourd Building in April 1983.

thoroughfare along the Mediterranean. Just down the road, several buildings away was the Durrafourd Building, where the rest of the American diplomats would set up temporary headquarters.

Sir David also requested that the MAU provide security for the British Embassy, marking ". . . probably the first time in history that you have U.S. Marines guarding a British Embassy."44 Colonel Mead responded by ordering a platoon to the site. The Marines were commanded by Lieutenant William G. Leftwich III, whose father, a Marine lieutenant colonel, had been posthumously awarded the Navy Cross during the Vietnam War.45 The platoon also set up sand-bagged guard posts outside the Durrafourd Building. One Marine platoon joined the embassy marines in providing security for Ambassador Dillon's home in Yarze, in the hills just east of Beirut. The MAU also provided overnight security to a joint State Department/Central Intelligence Agency delegation, which arrived in Beirut on 22 April to escort the bodies of the dead Americans home.

With the establishment of the security forces at the British Embassy, and for a while at the devastated American Embassy, the MAU's mission changed. In addition to its earlier mission of presence, it now had one of providing security. The MAU changed the rules of engagement to permit a Marine to fire if he "perceived" hostile intent. The new rules were, like the

Photograph by the author
Marine guard post outside MAU headquarters at Beirut Airport at the end of May 1983.


ones then in force, printed on a wallet-sized blue card and issued to the Marine standing guard at the embassies.

These new rules were as follows:

    Rules of Engagement for American and British Embassy External Security Forces

  1. Loaded magazines be in weapons at all times when on post, bolt closed, weapon on safe. No round will be in the chamber.

  2. Round will be chambered only when intending to fire.

  3. Weapon will be fired only under the following circumstances:

    1. A hostile act has been committed.

      1. A hostile act is defined as rounds fired at the embassy, embassy personnel, embassy vehicle, or Marine sentries.

      2. The response will be proportional.

      3. The response will cease when attack ceases.

      4. There will be no pursuit by fire.

      5. A hostile act from a vehicle is when it crosses the established barricade. First fire to disable the vehicle and apprehend occupants. if the vehicle cannot be stopped, fire at the occupants.

      6. A hostile act from an individual or group of individuals is present when they cross the barricade and will not stop after warnings in Arabic and French. If they do not stop, fire at them.

  4. Well aimed fire will be used; weapons will not be placed on automatic.

  5. Care will be taken to avoid civilian casualties.

Photo courtesy of Claude Salhani
U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz (c), is greeted by 22d MAU commander Col James M. Mead (l) and Ambassador Robert S. Dillon (r) on 28 April 1983, when Shultz arrived at Beirut International Airport for a meeting with Lebanese President Gemayel that day.

In his report to General Miller, Colonel Mead commented on his new situation by saying, "In spite of the terrorist threat, we are continuing to maintain a proper balance between our security and our presence/peacekeeping mission."46

The new rules of engagement were tested at 0200 on 28 April, when two men in an automobile tried to run the joint LAF/Marine checkpoint at the British Embassy. Three warning shots were fired, and then three more shots, forcing the vehicle off the road. The Lebanese apprehended the two men, who appeared intoxicated. One turned out to be a Syrian national with faked Lebanese identification papers in his possession. The word quickly went out that the Marines will shoot back and that they hit what they shoot at, ". . . and that gave . . . a little bit more credibility to our [fighting] ability and what we were willing to do in regards to the security situation here for the Lebanese; and it also gave a warning to the terrorists."47

As the Beirut environment began to change dramatically for the Marines, the MAU took further steps to strengthen its positions. Additional barriers were constructed in the airport area; sentries were doubled at all posts; and all vehicles were subjected to even more detailed searches before they were permitted to enter the MAU compound. Colonel Mead requested an on-the-scene intelligence team to coordinate all

Copyright 1983. Paul Conrad. Lost Angeles Times. Reprinted with permission.


Photograph by the author
A stray .50 caliber round hit this tree outside the Joint Public Affairs Bureau office in the 22d MAU compound. The Marine combat correspondents assigned to the MAU awarded it a Purple Heart of sorts.

American intelligence efforts, to sort through the great amount of intelligence material available, and to assess the threats as soon as they were perceived.48

Tanks, AAVs, and artillery, which had been brought ashore in February for maintenance and training, were now employed in other ways. The amtracs were used to block routes coming within the MAU areas, tanks were placed in a centralized location in the MAU perimeter for rapid response missions and the artillery battery began a more active target acquisition effort.

With diplomatic negotiations lagging, Secretary of State Shultz arrived in Beirut on 28 April to lend his efforts to the peacekeeping negotiations. The MAU provided security and transportation for Secretary Shultz as well as JCS Chairman General John W. Vessey and Sixth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Rowden, who arrived on the same day. Before his return to the States, Mr. Shultz sent the following message to the Commandant on 4 May:

Dear General Barrow:

Over the last week, I have made three visits to Beirut. On each occasion the 22d MAU under Colonel Mead provided unstinting support in security and transportation arrangements. I have also had the opportunity to observe these Marines in the difficult and dangerous circumstances of Beirut. They made a fine, sharp outfit. They are disciplined, professional and spirited. The Marines are highly regarded by their

Copyright 1983. Dana Summers. The Orlando Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.


Lebanese hosts and by their colleagues in the MNF. I have always been proud to be a Marine, but never prouder.

George Shultz49

The beginning of May brought another obvious and dramatic shift in conditions around Beirut. Between 5 and 8 May, fighting among the Christian Lebanese Forces militia, the Phalangists, and the Muslim Druze spilled over into Beirut in the form of artillery shelling. During the worst of the bombardment, rockets and artillery hit Juniyah, Muslim west Beirut, and Christian east Beirut. On 5 May, when it appeared that the French position was being attacked, the MAU put its artillery, mortars, Cobra gunships, and naval gunfire assets on alert. Since the MNF rules of engagement stipulated that an attack on one constituted an attack on all, Colonel Mead went aloft in a HMM-264 Huey with two aerial observers to locate the battery that was firing on the French. At the same time, the MAU S-3 sent ANGLICO artillery and naval gunfire spotters to observation posts in the Baabda hills above the airport. Colonel Mead's aircraft was hit by three 7.62mm rounds, which did no severe damage. The artillery firing on the French sector ceased at about 1327 and the MAU stood down from its alert posture at 1430.50

At 2025 on 6 May, intelligence sources reported that Druze artillery would shell the airport and MAU positions that night. All MAU artillery and mortars were alerted, as were the naval gunfire support ships. HMM-264 aircraft still at the airfield returned to the Guadalcanal. During the evening, artillery and rocket rounds impacted in the French and Italian sectors with no MNF casualties (there were civilian casualties), but the airport was not hit. All supporting arms relaxed their alert status at 0240 on 7 May. Intermittent small arms fire continued through the early morning hours of the 7th in the hills to the east of the airport, with stray rounds impacting in some of the Marine positions, but no Marines were hurt.51

At 1447 that afternoon, a round landed inside the Marine positions at the southern end of the runway. Minutes later, several more rounds landed in the sea, 500-1,000 meters from the beach. It was soon determined that the firing came from two locations immediately to the east of the Marine lines. At 1455, the artillery and mortars were put back on alert and a rifle company was ordered to prepare for a sweep of the area southeast of the airport between the railroad tracks and Old Sidon Road. Meanwhile, a Huey command-and-control helicopter was launched to make a reconnaissance of the area. The Israelis were alerted (via the emergency net) that the Marines intended to make a ground sweep, unless the Israelis investigated the suspected firing positions first. The

Photograph by the author
Col Mead briefs Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen Robert H. Barrow during the latter's farewell visit to 22d MAU in Lebanon on 26 May 1983. Note sandbags outside of the windows of the 22d MAU commander's second-story office at Beirut Airport.


Photograph by the author
The old and the new: (l. to r.) Capt Morgan M. France, USN, ComPhibron 8, relieved Capt George Bess, USN, ComPhibron 2, on 29 May 1983, while Col Mead, commander of 22d MAU was relieved the same day by 24th MAU commander, Col Geraghty.

Photograph by the author
Sgt Charles A. Light, NCOIC of the Beirut Embassy Marine Security Guard detachment, present a plaque of appreciation from the detachment to Col Mead on 29 May 1983.


Col Mead honors Gen Tannous at the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit mess night hosting Multi-National Force officers. At the left is BGen Datin and on the right, BGen Angioni.

IDF responded that they would investigate the area, and did so without results.

The shelling and rocketing continued, and inasmuch as Secretary Shultz was scheduled to arrive at the airport on the 8th, the MAU was concerned. The majority of the shelling was now landing close by--directly across from the airport in Kfar Shima, a Christian sector, and Ash Shuwayfat, held by the Muslim Druze. The shelling continued the next day and then diminished and finally ceased about 40 minutes before the Secretary landed in Beirut.52

The beginning of the end of the 22d MAU's stay in Beirut neared on 10 May with a re-embarkation conference held with Commodore Bess and his staff. Four days later, the 24th MAU's executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel William A. Beebe II, together with the 24th's S-4, Major Robert S. Melton, arrived in Beirut to begin coordinating the relief in place. On 19 May, the 22d MAU security element at the devastated embassy site returned to its parent unit.

Two days earlier, on 17 May, Israel and the Government of Lebanon had signed an agreement calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Chouf region and for the institution of special measures in southern Lebanon to guarantee Israel's security. As the Long Commission noted:

Israel, however, predicated its own withdrawal on the simultaneous withdrawal of Syrian and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) forces from Lebanon, parties which had not been included in the negotiations. Syria refused to initiate withdrawal of its forces while the IDF remained in Lebanon. The stage was set for renewed violence.53

This was the situation the 24th MAU would enter when it came ashore on 29 May. Before the 22d left, it was visited on 26 May by the Commandant, General Robert H. Barrow, who was making farewell visits to Marines around the world prior to his retirement on 1 July after more than 40 years of active service and participation in three wars. General Barrow visited all the MAU positions and presented Purple Hearts to the five BLT 2/6 Marines who had been wounded in the grenade attack early in the deployment. He also visited the American Embassy site and then the British Embassy. The Commandant met with General Tannous at the Ministry of Defense, and then he visited the French contingent,where, on behalf of the President, he decorated General Datin with the Legion of Merit for his assistance in the aftermath of the embassy bombing Nine other French officers and medical


personnel were also decorated for their services.

Despite his short period in Lebanon, the Commandant spent some considerable time in conference with Colonel Mead; Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, the incoming 24th MAU commander; Colonel James P. "Pat" Faulkner, who was to relive Colonel Mead in June at Camp Lejeune as commander of the 22d MAU; Commodore Bess; and Colonel Jim R. Joy, then Sixth Fleet Marine Officer. General Barrow commented on his perceptions of the MAU situation and positions. He strongly emphasized one point, among several, and that was American, and Marine, HUMINT was poor and that it had to be improved--now.54

On 27 May, at ceremonies held at the Ministry of Defense, General Tannous decorated Commodore Bess, Colonel Mead, Lieutenant Colonels Rice, Anderson, and Kalata, and Major Shively with the Lebanese Order of the Cedar Medal. On that same day, General Barrow returned to the United States and Congressmen William H. Gray and Stephen J. Solarz visited the Marines.

The advance party of the 24th MAU had arrived in Beirut on 24 May. Four days later, the new MAU's advance command, control, and communications elements arrived to reconnoiter the area. The 24th MAU Marines also assumed the security detail at the British Embassy and the Durrafourd Building. On 29 May, the major elements of the 24th MAU began landing at 0700. They were in their new positions by 1300, at which time the 22d MAU's units began reembarking. At 1600 on the 30th, Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, the 24th MAU commander assumed responsibility as commander of the U.S. contingent of the Multi-National Force in Beirut. Phibron 2 and the 22d MAU were on their way to Rota to wash down their equipment and enjoy two or three days of liberty. Following that, they were headed for Key West and Operation Agile Retrieval on 10 June.

After three and a half months ashore in Lebanon, the 22d MAU left with a sense of solid accomplishment. The BLT's Marines ". . . dealt with patrols, security, terrorist attacks, rescue operations, and cross training requirements--all with the east of practiced professionalism."55 Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Kalata's HMM-264 flew 2,303 hours with an aircraft availability of 94 percent. In this deployment, the choppers transported 19,200 passengers, hauled 988.4 tons of cargo, and fully supported the U.S. diplomatic mission. Major Shively's MAU service support group had come ashore with 300 ;pieces of rolling stock and managed to maintain a 96.6 percent operational rate, while meeting all MAU logistics requirements.56

On the Thursday evening before the 22d MAU left Beirut, Colonel Mead hosted a mess night for the officers of the MAU and the MNF units in Lebanon. At the end of a candlelit "surf and turf" dinner of steak, lobster, and wines, when the toasts were made and the VIPs introduced, Colonel Mead made a presentation to General Tannous on behalf of the MAU. As General Tannous rose to make his remarks, a heavy caliber round exploded just outside of the MAU perimeter. General Tannous smiled, there was some laughter, and one who was there was reminded of an old French aphorism, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."57

On 27 June, at Camp Lejeune Colonel Mead turned over command of the 22d Marine Amphibious Unit to another veteran aviator, Colonel James P. Faulkner, whose 22d MAU was destined to make Marine Corps history before it ever reached Beirut.


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[1] Frocking is the procedure of promoting a selected officer to the next higher grade, permitting him to wear the insignia, but not paying him the salary until there is a vacancy for him to fill in the new grade.

[2] 22d MAU SitRep No. 1, dtd 3Dec82.

[3] Buckner intvw, p. 8.

[4] Ibid., p. 9.

[5] Ibid., p. 2.

[6] 22d MAU SitRep No. 9, dtd 29Jan83.

[7] Col Jamese M. Mead, "Lebanon Revisited," Marine Corps Gazette Sep83, p. 67, hereafter Mead, Lebanon II.

[8] 22d MAU SitRep No. 12, dtd 20Feb83.

[9] Ibid.

[10] To "stronback" a tent is to privde a wooden frame for rigid support.

[11] Farmer intvw I, p. 16.

[12] 22d MAU ComdC, Feb83.

[13] Maj Jack L. Farmer intvw dtd 26May83, p. 1, after Farmer intvw II.

[14] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 68.

[15] Farmer intvw, p. 20.

[16] Farmer intvw II, p. 2.

[17] 22d MAU ComdC, Feb83.

[18] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 68-69.

[19] Farmer intvw II, pp. 16-17.

[20] Iibd., p. 18.

[21] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 69.

[22] 22d MAU ComdC, Feb83.

[23] Maj Jack L. Farmer comments to author, 6Mar84.

[24] The reports of neither of these intelligence surveys, or ones made later by Department of Defense and National Security Agency teams, are available for publication.

[25] Farmer intvw II, p. 10.

[26] There were indications that the PLO had drifted back into Beirut and neighboring areas of Syria.

[27] Farmer intvw I, p. 22.

[28] Ibid., p. 23.

[29] Ibid.,, p. 24.

[30] LtCol Donald F. Anderson intvw, dtd 25May83, p. 17, hereafter Anderson intvw.

[31] 22d MAU ComcD, Mar83.

[32] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 70.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Farmer intvw II, p. 21.

[35] 22d MAU SitRep No. 17, dtd 27Mar83.

[36] Farmer intvw I, p. 28.

[37] Ibid.

[38] 22d MAU ComdC, Mar83.

[39] 22d MAU SitRep No. 19, dtd 9Apr83.

[40] Farmer intvw II, p. 24.

[41] Col Jamese M. Mead intvw, dtd 23May83, p. 13, hereafter Mead intvw I.

[42] BGen Jamese Mead presentation to Marine Corps History and Museums Division, MCHC, Washington, D.C., dtd 14Sep83, p. 34, hereafter Mead Presentation.

[43] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 71.

[44] Farmer intvw II, p. 25.

[45] A special award was established by his frends and admirers in memory of LtCol Lefwich, who was killed during his second tour in Vietnam. The Leftwich Trophy, scuplted by Iwo Jima Memorial sculptor Felix de Weldon, is awarded annually to the outstanding ground combat element captain serving in the Fleet Marine Force. In 1984 it was awarded to Major Robert K. Dobson, Jr., who won the award for services as a captain, commanding Company G, BLT 2/8, 22d MAU, in the Grenada operaton and Beirut deployment.

[46] 22d MAU SitRep No. 21, dtd 24Apr83.

[47] Farmer intvw II, p. 26.

[48] BGen James M. Mead, "Through the Looking Glass" (Unpublished ms, 1984), p. 27.

[49] SecState msg to CMC, dtd 4May83.

[50] 22d MAU ComdC, May 83d MAU SitRep No. 23, dtd 8May83.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Farmer intvw II, p. 28.

[53] Long Commission Rpt, p. 30.

[54] LtCol Arthur S. Weber memo for the Director, Plans Div, HQMC, dtd2Jun83, p. 3.

[55] Mead, Lebanon II, p. 73.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Author's notes.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation