UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the international organization’s peacekeeping mission to Lebanon must be “more agile and mobile,” according to a report on Tuesday.
“Standard armored personnel carriers are not entirely suitable for crowded areas, narrow streets and mountainous terrain,” Guterres said, adding that “high-mobility light tactical vehicles and reconnaissance vehicles with improved monitoring capacity” could be a better alternative.
He also called to purchase more technologies that would bolster the mission's monitoring capabilities, including thermographic cameras, advanced binoculars, and drones. Guterres also called for the construction of additional observation posts across southern Lebanon.
Such measures would be better suited for the environment, he pointed out, as it “would result in a force sufficiently protected but with a lighter footprint, geared towards better situational awareness.”
Currently, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is following a so-called "saturation model," prioritizing high-density deployment of troops.
UNIFIL has up to 10,000 troops deployed in the area at any given time, mainly comprised of reserves from militaries across the world. They are tasked with helping the Lebanese military secure the border and ensuring the peace with neighboring Israel.
The UN established UNIFIL in 1978, but their role expanded in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 after they were tasked with upholding the ceasefire agreement signed by both parties at the end of the campaign.
Israel and the United States have criticized UNIFIL in the past, as the border between Lebanon and Israel has frequently been breached despite UNIFIL patrols.
Most recently on June 2, Israel faced off with the Lebanese army after Lebanese soldiers approached Israeli troops operating near the border.
Back in May, the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, which holds a sizeable representation in Lebanese Parliament, refused U.S. calls to extend UNIFIL’s mandate in the area and allow its troops to conduct searches in private properties.