Army Commander Slams Attempts to Weaken the Military

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Army Commander Joseph Aoun on Saturday condemned the reduction of the military's budget in the 2019 financial plan approved by the government, denouncing campaigns aiming to dash the army's structure and discourage its officers.

"It's not a secret that the Army is the backbone of Lebanon, and won't be exaggerating by saying that it is the guarantor of the country's security and stability and that its mission is not limited to wars and conflicts," Aoun said during a visit to the Fouad Chehab Museum in Jounieh.

"Some could have probably forgot, whether intentionally or unintenionally, that there are still big challenges to face at our eastern, southern and maritime borders despite the prevailing security stability. Therefore, the situation on the security, economic and social levels still requires full readiness; otherwise, who would take responsibility for exposing the nation's security?"

Aoun said that it was normal that the Army is part of the Lebanese economic structure and that it would be subject, like all other state institutions, to austerity measures.

However, he objected to the random and unfair approach based on which the Army's budget was reduced, saying that the military was not given the option of determining its expenditures.

"The Army's budget figures were made public, and open to debate and analyses as if the purpose is to convince the public opinion that the military is responsible for the country's debt."

Aoun also criticized the recruitment freeze stipulated by the new budget, warning of the negative consequences that such a decision will entail.

"The ban on recruiting soldiers or cadets, and the ban on dismissal, will have negative repercussions on the Army," he cautioned.