Operation Blue Bat facts for kids
|Lebanon crisis of 1958|
Marines of Battalion Landing Team 2/2 form a LVT and tank column on the beach road for the move into Beirut on 16 July 1958
|8,509 U.S. Army soldiers
5,670 USMC marines
U.S. Sixth Fleet
|Casualties and losses|
|Four dead (Three by accident, one from hostile fire)|
Operation Blue Bat was the name given to the 1958 operation in which the United States intervened in the Lebanon crisis. A US Marine Corps Expeditionary Force landed in Lebanon on July 15, 1958. US Army units arrived four days later. The American units quickly sealed off Beirut, freeing the Lebanese Army for other duties. At the same time, American strategic forces went on alert world-wide in support.
In 1958, tensions in Lebanon had risen amongst its Muslim population over the country's alignment with the western powers, as well as suspicion that President Camille Chamoun sought to alter the Constitution to extend the length of time under which he could serve as President. Though some believe the United States supported him in this effort, review of FRUS indicates Eisenhower was adamant this not occur. Nevertheless, this suspicion did affect the behavior of Lebanese civilians. Sunni Muslims pushed for Lebanon to join the newly formed United Arab Republic (then composed of Egypt and Syria), but pro-west supporters, including President Camille Chamoun refused. After the pro-west monarchy in Iraq was toppled in a coup in the same year and faced with a rebellion by Muslims, Chamoun asked the United States for help.
In response, President Dwight Eisenhower dispatched a mixed force on July 15, 1958, comprised of over fourteen thousand soldiers from both the army, Marine Corps and supported by the Sixth Fleet of the United States Navy and the United States Air Force to bolster the Lebanese government from threat of coup. The operation called for Beirut International Airport to be secured first, followed by the city's port and all roads leading between the two and the city itself.
Air support for the Marine landing on the beach at Beirut that started the operation was provided by the air group aboard the Navy's attack carrier USS ESSEX (CVA-9), and her escorting destroyers, all part of the US Sixth Fleet which had steamed from Athens, Greece at very high speed to be there for the invasion.
The operation, in conjunction with the resignation of Chamoun as President of Lebanon and his replacement by Fuad Chehab was largely a success. Tensions faded and the government was secured under new leadership. The operation ended on October 25 of the same year. Casualties were remarkably light, with only three soldiers dying in accidents and one killed by a sniper.
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