In the event, of course, neither option was ever exercised in anger, although the French did mount an air strike. On 22 September, at least two waves of Etendards were launched from the Foch to attack an artillery site outside Beirut. While the French claimed that this operation had been successful, the Buccaneer Det Cdr was able to make his own assessment while aboard the Foch a few days later for a ‘co-ordination meeting’ (aka lunch).

There were some US Navy and Marine guests as well. After the introductions, one of the Americans called to the French Admiral our host, “Gee, Jean Claude, do you have any idea how long this little party is going to last, we have to get back to business aboard the Eisenhower.” The French Admiral was brilliant! “Ah mon ami,” he replied. “We are here for lunch so the timing will all depend on the menu!” It was a good lunch of course! After the lunch, The Buccaneer Det Cdr excused himself from the table and found some of the French navy pilots to try some very careful interrogation and investigation. It was assessed that their attack appeared to have achieved very little, probably the result of inadequate intelligence on the target.

The Buccaneer Det Cdr also took the opportunity to question the US guests from CTF 60 on the pending arrival of USS Iowa with her 16 inch guns and her mortar locating radar. He told the Americans of the difficulty in deciding how to find and hit the guns threatening the British troops in their block of flats. “How are you going to employ the Iowa and her huge capability?” he enquired. “Is she going to sit and wait for the bad guys to fire guns, then locate those guns and fire back?” “Guns!” he said. “Guns! She ain’t going after no guns, she’s going to re-arrange the geography!”

On 30 September, an official cease-fire was declared in the Lebanon. Nevertheless, the detachment continued to mount the standby for some considerable time, although the readiness state was relaxed to two crews at two hours and two at four hours. The reduction in tension provided the opportunity to relieve some of the original personnel and this eventually settled down to a two-monthly rotation which was sustained until the detachment was finally withdrawn.

During this cease-fire period, there were several significant events. One was the replacement of COMBRITFORLEB, the original incumbent being relieved due to exhaustion. Another was the provision of ASMA 3, which transformed the business of communicating securely with MOD, HQ STC and HQ 18 Gp. There is always a downside, of course, and in this case ASMA also meant a proliferation of reports and statistics that had to be compiled and submitted ‘up the chain’.


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