Remembering Beirut
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Remembering Beirut: They Came in Peace

Active Military
Active Military
October 23, 2017
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They came in peace. On this day in 1983, suicide bombers drove two trucks filled with explosives into the Multinational Force Lebanon (MNF) housing complex, targeting the barracks of 1st Battalion 8th Marines and killing 241 of our service members in the deadliest day for the United States Marine Corps since Iwo Jima, and the deadliest day for the United States armed forces since the first day of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.The Marines were operating under the peacetime rules of engagement which meant the crew served weapons (heavy machine guns) were not even condition 3 (rounds on feed tray, bolt forward) and their personal weapons (M-16s) were condition 3 at most (Magazine inserted, no round in the chamber, bolt forward). There is a whole list of guidelines which they were supposed to operate by in order to maintain themselves as a neutral party."Until October 23, 1983, there were ten guidelines issued for each U.S. Marine member of the MNF:

  1. When on 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 instructed 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 in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe at all times.
  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."
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However, these rules of engagement did not matter and did little to deter the Islamic Jihad as they and other extremist factions wished for the United States and the MNF to be out of Lebanon. Many believe to this day that the newly formed Islamic Republic of Iran was behind the planning and execution of the attacks. Iran was not happy with the United States siding with Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War. The NSA intercepted a transmission from Iranian officials to "take spectacular action against the American Marines." However, this transmission didn't make it to the Marines in Beirut in time. The message was received 3 days too late.

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We would like to take a moment and remember the Marines, sailors, and soldiers who died that day. While many on the opposing side saw you as a threat, we will always remember that you came to Lebanon in peace. You didn't go to make war, you went to ensure peace. Blessed are you the peacemakers, The Beirut Battalion. Semper Fidelis.

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