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The 23rd Spanish rotation in Lebanon, halfway through its mission

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Number: 4495

BRILEG commanders conduct a reconnaissance visit

Reconnaissance visit to the Indian battalion

Reconnaissance visit to the Indian battalion (Photo: PIO Líbano)

Preparing the first aid class

Preparing the first aid class (Photo: PIO Líbano)

The 23rd Spanish rotation in Lebanon – made up chiefly of troops from the 12th Armoured Brigade “Guadarrama” – are now halfway through the mission they are carrying out in that country under the UN flag. That milestone has been marked by a reconnaissance visit from the commanders of the contingent which will relieve them, made up of troops from the 2nd Legion Brigade “Rey Alfonso XIII” (BRILEG by its Spanish acronym). It will be the third time that unit will be deployed in the area since the mission was launched in 2006.

On 16 August General José Conde de Arjona, who is the chief of the Multinational Brigade eastern sector (BMN-E) of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the officer ultimately responsible for the Spanish contingent, welcomed the 42 commanders from BRILEG to the base “Miguel de Cervantes” in Marjayoun, where the bulk of the Spanish contingent is deployed. They spent several days there, witnessing first-hand the peculiarities and difficulties of the tasks the blue helmets are charged with in the region south of the Litani River.

The daily activities of the blue helmets encompass not only surveillance and peacekeeping along the Blue Line but also engaging the civilian population in order to guarantee full and effective compliance with the main aim of the mission. In August, activities with civilians have included the exchange of letters and a videoconference between Lebanese children from Marjayoun who are learning Spanish as part of the Cervantes programme and Spanish children from a summer camp organised by the town council of Castillo de Bayuela (Toledo).

In addition, on 10 August UNIFIL day was celebrated with a mass held at the Maronite Church of Our Lady in Marjayoun and a festival attended by UN soldiers from the whole of the eastern sector - including Spaniards, who took part with the Cornet and Drum Band of the 12th Armoured Brigade.

Furthermore, on 16 August the 10-km popular race known as the Haramoun Marathon was held at the town of Hasbaya. Soldiers from UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and members of the local police force took part in the event alongside a large group of civilian athletes. Some days later, on 20 August, Spanish Role 1 medical providers went to Marjayoun Social Welfare Centre to teach an intensive course on first aid to a group of Lebanese women.

Lastly, on 24 August Spanish engineers performed an integration exercise with UNIFIL’s Force Command Reserve (FCR), which is under French leadership, and with LAF. The troops taking part in the exercise included a sappers section and the EOD team from the Spanish army, a sappers section and an EOD team from the FCR, an engineer team from LAF, and a Role 1 stabilisation cell. Together they practised techniques in IED deactivation, remote removal of unexploded ordnance, use of metal detectors and dog teams to detect explosives, opening safe lanes and extracting casualties while under enemy fire.