The Marines heading to the Mediterranean have a 40-year blood feud with Hezbollah | Washington Examiner
Category: News & PoliticsVia: kavika • 2 months ago • 18 comments
By: TomRtweets (Washington Examiner)
October 23rd, 1983 was a beautiful Sunday in Southern California and I was looking forward to watching some football. In a minute the world changed and it is a moment in time that I will never forget. 40 years later that day and the next few months are burned in my mind.
220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and 3 Soldiers killed and over 100 wounded.
A bit later another suicide bomber hit the French Paratrooper Barrack killing 58 French Paratroopers.
I noted last week that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's movement from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea would indicate U.S. concern over possible threats from the Lebanese Hezbollah to U.S. diplomats in Beirut and to Israel's northern border.
Well, embarked aboard the USS Bataan, the 26th MEU is now on its way to the eastern Mediterranean. It will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which is already there. Another carrier strike group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is also on its way to the Mediterranean and will arrive by the month's end. Any mission in Lebanon would carry personal import for the Marines. Consider that the 26th MEU's ground combat element/battalion landing team is centered on the 1st Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment. The 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 6th Marine Regiment have previously deployed on operations to Lebanon during the 1950s and 1980s, as have some of the fighter squadrons aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford. But what gives Lebanon special poignance in Marines' hearts and minds is what happened in that country 40 years and one week ago today.
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What happened was a massive vehicle-borne suicide bombing attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut. Two hundred and twenty Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers were killed. Iran and the then-formative Lebanese Hezbollah were responsible. Shortly thereafter, another suicide bomber attacked a French paratrooper barracks, killing 58. That April, another Hezbollah attack caused massive damage and the death of 17 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
The Marines have not forgotten this hard history.
When they were struck on Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut were home to the 8th Marine Regiment. The regiment had been deployed as part of a joint U.S.-French peacekeeping force amid the brutal Lebanese Civil War. Yet the aftermath of Hezbollah's bombing saw a largely impotent response by the Reagan administration and an eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon. The ensuing perception of American weakness was instructive for both Iran and future terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. Although it is now inactive, the 8th Marine Regiment was, at the time of the attack, a subordinate unit of the 2nd Marine Division. The 6th Marines centerpiece of the 26th MEU was (and remains) a sister regiment under the 2nd Marine Division. The Marine esprit de corps means that the officers and senior enlisted personnel belonging to the 26th MEU will be keenly aware of this shared history. Put simply, they lost division brothers from a different generation in Beirut.
In turn, if the Marines are ordered into action in Lebanon, their focus on achieving their mission will go hand-in-hand with their sense that Hezbollah has an overdue blood bill to pay.