Österreichs Bundesheer

Bundesheer auf facebook

The Austrian Armed Forces in the Middle East

UNIFIL and the Blue Line

The Blue Line is a Withdrawal Line in the tri-border region of Lebanon, Israel and Syria. The current course of the withdrawal line was identified by UN cartographers in 2000 in order to be able to verify the complete redeployment of the Israeli Defence Forces from Lebanese national territory. The question is now to have the course of the line marked visibly to improve stability in the region. This UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) project has been ongoing since summer 2007, carried out by the Joint Geographic Information System (JGIS) cell.

Changes in the borderline are not new in the area of what today are Lebanon, Israel and Syria. Yet, the demarcation agreements prior to World War I were not recognised by all parties and, thus, are not binding. The first authoritative delimitation was made with the Anglo-French Boundary Agreement of 1923, agreed on between France, whose mandate included Greater Syria and today’s Lebanon, and Great Britain, whose mandate comprised Palestine. Since then, the borderline has been slightly altered and amended or fine-tuned several times. Additional points were added to the border points negotiated in the 1923 Boundary Agreement, without altering or eliminating the original points agreed on.

Green Line and Purple Line

The subsequent significant extension of this borderline was the Armistice Demarcation Line (ADL) or Separation Line, referred to as the Green Line, as set out between Lebanon and Israel in the 1949 Armistice Agreement.

After World War II, a large number of European Jews had fled to Palestine, which gave rise to anti-Jewish demonstrations and acts of violence by Arabs. Great Britain redeployed its troops and committed the solution to the problem to the United Nations, which had been founded only recently. The UN devised a plan for partitioning Palestine in a Jewish and an Arab state with Jerusalem as the international capital (UN Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947). This plan, however, was strictly rejected by the Palestinians. Shortly after that, war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews. The latter declared the foundation of the State of Israel on 15 May 1948. After an armistice between Israel and its Arab neighbours (Lebanon, Syria and Jordan), the UN decided that the ceasefire was to be monitored by military observers, who were to be provided by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). The first of these military observers arrived in the region in June 1948.

With the General Armistice Agreement, which was entered into by Israel and its neighbouring countries in Naqoura, southern Lebanon, on 23 March 1949, the Armistice Line or Separation Line between Israel and Lebanon was established, on the basis of the Anglo-French borderline of 1923. Almost a hundred new points, Turning Points and Intermediate Points were added to the 38 existing Anglo-French boundary pillars, without altering the enumeration that existed already, and the demarcation line was renamed Green Line. It is striking that no supplementary map with the newly added points was made.

In the Six-Day-War of June 1967, which Israel waged against Egypt and Syria, Israel occupied the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, including the strategically relevant city of Quneitra. UN Resolution 242 required Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, which, however, was rejected by the Israeli Government. The ceasefire line resulting from this conflict between Israel, Lebanon and Syria, and referred to as Purple Line, stretches from the Hasbani River intersection point, between Israel, Lebanon and the Israeli-held Golan Heights, to the northeast up to Mount Hermon.

On 6 October 1973 a surprise attack launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel heralded the Yom Kippur War. Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal and established a bridgehead on its eastern bank, upon which the Israeli Defence Forces also crossed the Canal and, in turn, established a bridgehead on the western bank. In order to disengage the two forces, the United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II, from 1973 to 1978) was set up. The U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, succeeded in having signed a Disengagement Agreement, on condition of the exchange of prisoners of war, the redeployment of the IDF to the Purple Line and the establishment of a UN-monitored buffer zone. This resulted, among other things, in the setting up of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) as a peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights, in line with UN Resolution 350 of 31 May 1974.

The occupation of the Golan Heights by the Israeli Defence Forces in 1974 did not have an impact on the courses of the Green Line and the Purple Line.

After the Six-Day-War, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had established a state within a state in Jordan, thereby intensifying the confrontation with King Hussein of Jordan. A failed attempt at killing King Hussein on 2 September 1970 led to civil war-like conditions and, subsequently, the PLO redeployed its base of operations from Jordan to Lebanon, building there a state within the state, which the government in Beirut was unable to bring under control. The PLO used this state as a base for launching rocket and other attacks against Israel.

In retribution, the IDF launched Operation Litani, the Invasion of southern Lebanon (except the city of Tyre and its surroundings), in mid-March 1978.

Thereupon, the United Nations passed UN Resolutions 425 and 426, calling upon the Israeli Defence Forces to redeploy from southern Lebanon and installing a UN peacekeeping force - the UN Interim Force in Lebanon or UNIFIL. The first elements of UNIFIL arrived in Lebanon on 23 March 1978. After the Resolutions had entered into effect, the IDF temporarily withdrew from southern Lebanon. The establishment and operation of UNIFIL did not have effects on the Green Line and the Purple Line.

After new violence had broken out in southern Lebanon and a terrorist attack by the Abu Nidal Organisation (a PLO spin-off, named after its founder, which is responsible for over 100 attacks in over 20 countries) on the Israeli Ambassador in London, Israel re-occupied southern Lebanon in Operation Peace for Galilee in order to squash the PLO. The PLO leaders then moved on to Tunis.

Parts of the IDF redeployed from southern Lebanon in 1985. Other parts remained there, occupying a 30-km-deep security zone known as Israeli Controlled Area or ICA, located north of the Green Line. This area was to serve as a buffer zone or shield against attacks and raids.

Green and Purple Turn into Blue

In May 2000 the Israeli Defence Forces redeployed from southern Lebanon in conformity with UN Resolutions 425 and 426 of 1978. After their withdrawal, a team of cartographers of the United Nations, with the help of UNIFIL and UNTSO, determined a line to verify and confirm the complete redeployment of the IDF from southern Lebanon. The line is not a formal borderline but is merely to indicate the Israeli Withdrawal Line, in accordance with the Lebanese borders and based on available documentation, such as the 1923 Anglo-French Boundary Agreement and the Green Line of 1949. The Withdrawal Line eventually came to be known as Blue Line.

The final report of the team of cartographers included a map of the Blue Line on a 1:50,000 scale and a list of 198 Blue Line Points. The 198 Blue Line Points were taken from the 1923 Anglo-French Boundary Agreement and the Green Line. The course between the Blue Line Points was determined with the help of a geoinformation system (GIS) programme. In so doing, the Blue Line Points were supplemented with so-called Markers (M) and Identification Points (ID), without reducing or relocating the original points of the Green Line and the Purple Line.

Until now, Lebanon and Israel have had certain reservation as to the course of certain Blue Line sections. Lebanon, for example, accepts both the list of 198 Blue Line Points and the 1:50,000 scale map, whereas Israel only accepts the map. In 2006 UNIFIL, therefore, decided to mark the Blue Line in order to reduce tensions on-site and to make the course of the Line clear to the Lebanese civilian population. As of 2007, Lebanon and Israel complied with a request by UNIFIL to participate in a project for visibly marking the Blue Line.

Key Factor Blue Line:

In 2000 the Blue Line became a key factor in the region since only with the Israeli redeployment from southern Lebanon the original UNIFIL mandate, in conformity with UN Resolutions 425 and 426 of 1978, could be fulfilled. After the Israeli-Lebanese conflict of 2006 the significance of UNIFIL was considerably upgraded with UN Resolution 1701, thereby increasing UNIFIL troop strength from 4,000 to 15,000.

According to UN Resolution 1701, the mission of UNIFIL was to

  • monitor the complete cessation of hostilities,
  • support the Lebanese Armed Forces in the course of their redeployment in southern Lebanon (also along the Blue Line), while simultaneously the Israeli forces were withdrawn,
  • coordinate the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces at the same time as the Israeli Defence Forces were leaving,
  • provide humanitarian aid and set the preconditions for a safe return of the fled civilian population,
  • support the Lebanese Armed Forces in redeploying in southern Lebanon between the Blue Line and Litani River, which, except for the redeployment of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, is supposed to be clear of armed personnel, materiel and weapons, and
  • support the Lebanese Government, as per its request, in its effort to secure the borders against illegal arms smuggling.

With regard to the mandate of UNIFIL the Blue Line was repeatedly and explicitly addressed and its unconditional observance demanded from the parties to the conflict, as was the laying down of the exact course of the Line in a binding manner.

In spring 2007, Lebanon and Israel accepted the request of UNIFIL to participate in a project for visibly marking the Blue Line. For this purpose the so-called Blue Line Committee, including a Tripartite Secretary’s Office, was established within UNIFIL’s HQ and tasked with coordinating the cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces.

Another important function of this Tripartite Secretary’s Office is the planning and development of confidence-building measures between Lebanon and Israel.

UN Resolution 1884 of 27 August 2009 extended the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2010. It calls upon all parties involved to accept the Blue Line and to contribute to the marking process.

Currently the UNIFIL troop-contributing nations China, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and recently also Cambodia contribute seven mine clearance teams to the Blue Line marking project, plus the three Blue Line marker construction teams from China, Portugal and Turkey. Along the 118.64 km-long Blue Line, Blue Line barrels and Blue Line flags are being set up. About one third of the Blue Line has been cleared from mines and re-marked already. Starting point for the marking of the Blue Line in August 2007 was the western sector of the Blue Line, beginning at Rosh Hanikra at the Mediterranean coast and extending towards the east, where there was only little difference of opinion between Lebanon and Israel with regard to the course of the Line.

The setting up of the first Blue Line markers in September 2007 was an important signal and is also a precedence for the other construction sections along the Blue Line, in particular for the divided village of Ghajar and also the Shebaa Farms, which are claimed by both parties and currently being used by Israel.

A clear delineation of the national territory is important for every nation. Thus, a possible future, internationally recognised determination of the Blue Line would be a solid negotiation basis for a lasting demarcation, especially as also key areas with abundant water resources are at stake.

The aim of setting up the Blue Line markers involving Israel and Lebanon is to reduce regional tensions within the Lebanese civilian population and to achieve a higher degree of distinctiveness and understanding as regards the course of the Blue Line. Thus, the marking of the Blue Line is a relevant confidence-building and strategic as well as visible contribution to stabilising the border area.

Moreover, the determination further on will not allow for room for interpretation. To establish a Blue Line, which is accepted by Israel and Lebanon, is, therefore, the basis for further tasks of UNIFIL and UNTSO.

All this makes the Blue Line a key factor for UNIFIL and UNTSO in succeeding in their peace efforts in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon and the Blue Line:

Lebanon is a Middle East country with a surface area of some 10,452 km². Its maximum north-south extension is 165 km, its extension from west to east is 85 km. In the north and east Lebanon borders on Syria, in the south on Israel, and in the west on the Mediterranean Sea.

In the west, the borderline between Lebanon, Israel and Syria, referred to as the Blue Line, crosses a ridge of hills with an altitude of 300 to 600 m ranging from the west to the east. In the centre the Blue Line rises to approx. 850 m above sea level and is characterised by deep chasms and rivers. Subsequently, the Blue Line passes along the valley of the Jordan River all the way to the Hasbani River intersection, drops to 50 m above sea level, and then goes up the south-western face of Mount Hermon to an altitude of 2,814 m.

The Electric Fence of the IDF

The electric fence was constructed by the Israeli Defence Forces along the Blue Line. It is made up of an electric mesh wire fence and equipped with video, thermal imaging and infrared sensors. Next to it passes a gravel patrol road and there is also an asphalt road for monitoring and support tasks of the IDF.

The electric fence stretches along the entire Blue Line. Since the Blue Line’s marking has not yet been finished totally, many Lebanese take the electric fence to be the Blue Line.


After World War II Jewish immigration into Palestine was growing, which led to tensions with nationalist Arabs.

In 1947 the United Nations developed its Partition Plan for dividing up Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The proclamation of the State of Israel resulted in wars between Israel, the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours. UN Resolution 50 of 29 May 1948 called upon a ceasefire, which was to be monitored by military observers (with the bulk of them coming from France, the U.S.A. and Belgium). In this way, Resolution 50 was the basis for setting up the first UN peacekeeping operation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO). Due to renewed fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbours, UN Resolution 54 (1948) ordered an indefinite ceasefire, and a second group of military observers was deployed into the ceasefire area.

The original mandate of the UNTSO was supporting the UN’s Mixed Armistice Commission (MAC) by observing and monitoring the truce and the cessation of fire. As of 1949 the UNTSO’s main task was monitoring the Mixed Armistice Agreement on the basis of Security Council Resolution 73 of 1949.

The Mixed Armistice Commission examined and processed the claims and complaints of the parties (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) as regards the armistice agreement. The complaints predominantly dealt with fire fights along and across the Armistice Demarcation Line (ADL) as well as crossings of the Line by persons and animals as well as airspace violations.

After the Six-Day-War of 1967 Israel declared the 1949 General Armistice Agreement with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (based on a peace agreement between Jordan and Israel) null and void. Since each ceasefire agreement includes the provision that the agreement remains in force until peaceful settlement has been achieved between the parties, the United Nations consider the General Armistice Agreement as still valid.

After 1972, upon insistence by Lebanon, the UNTSO’s number of Observation Posts (OPs) and military observers on the Lebanese side of the ADL was increased. Israel, however, did not yield to the request of setting up new OPs or increasing the number of military observers on its side of the ADL.

After the foundation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1978, staff personnel were supplied from among UNTSO’s military observers as well, and military observers of UNTSO were also subordinated to UNIFIL in order to support the UNIFIL mandate within the Israeli Controlled Area (ICA). The fundamental mission of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL), which then was subordinated to UNIFIL, was in 1998 "to observe and report activities which threaten peace in southern Lebanon and sustain a capability to detect encroachments of the 1949 ADL." This fundamental mission remained valid after the withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Forces from Lebanon in 2000 and consequently comprised the Blue Line. In 2002, "… observes, monitors, investigates and reports violations of the Blue Line…” also formed part of this mission. In 2005, the "internationally recognised Withdrawal Line between Israel and Lebanon” was mentioned. A consequence of the Israeli-Lebanese Conflict of 2006 was the new concept of operations, signed by UNTSO and UNIFIL on 21 December 2007, according to which the OGL was allowed to report also such incidents that constituted a breach of Security Council Resolution 1701. With the help of Liaison und Monitoring Teams in the depth of the UNFIL area of operations, the OGL was able to carry out also liaison and monitoring tasks. Currently, the fundamental mission of the Observer Group Lebanon is stated as "to maintain regular liaison with appropriate authorities, investigating incidents and reporting violations, providing a confidence building presence …".

Effectively, the task spectrum of the UNTSO and the Observer Group Lebanon has remained unchanged since 1948/49 despite all wars and crises in the Middle East. The UNTSO’s task is exclusively to observe the armistice between the parties involved and, hence, is responsible primarily only for observing and reporting violations of the armistice and not for peacekeeping or peace enforcement.

The UNTSO acts as the ‘ears and eyes’ on site for the United Nations, allowing it to detect violations of the ceasefire and to protest against them.

Numerous Austrian soldiers have served with the UNTSO and the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) already.

Establishment of MILGEO/Bordermarker 1

The Geographic Information System cell was established within the Engineer section of UNIFIL in 2001. Soon thereafter, the Planning Staff Officer (PLANSO) of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) was integrated into the UNIFIL planning cell and since 2005 has been dubbed UNIFIL Bordermarker 1.

The significance of the Geographic Information System (GIS) cell within the UNIFIL structure and within the supported UN organisations and NGOs in southern Lebanon has been rising constantly, e.g. in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. In 2006 the cell was converted into the Joint Geographic Information System (JGIS) Unit. The original personnel, three GIS members (Bordermarker 1, NCO/Assistant Bordermarker 2, civilian cartographer), was augmented to eleven (including 5 military personnel and 6 civilians, of which 4 are international and 2 are local - Lebanese - UN employees.

The tasks of the GIS - past and present

In 2001 the primary tasks of the GIS cell were to

  • produce and distribute operations maps including satellite maps for the UNIFIL and the OGL with the respective surface type (i.e. roads and terrain),
  • update the geographic data bases (e.g. on the 1923 Anglo-French Boundary Agreement),
  • provide technical surveying assistance by way of the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) investigating operational incidents (fire fights) in the UNIFIL AOR,
  • plan and conduct training for OGL and UNIFIL personnel, and
  • maintain good cooperation and coordination with all organisations active in the area of operations.

In order to be able to act militarily, current information as well as information on environmental conditions tailored to the command echelon and the branch are required. Hence, in 2006, due to the Israeli-Lebanese War and the augmentation of UNIFIL from 4,000 to 13,000 troops, the GIS cell continued to be increased.

The concept of operations of the GIS then ensured that militarily relevant geodata (e.g. destroyed road infrastructure, topography, land use, characteristics of bodies of water, settlement, refugee camps, and check points) could be collected, processed and provided for UNIFIL and other organisations in the area of operations. As of then, these data were provided in real time to civilian organisations and the key players of all echelons at UNIFIL for their decision-making processes. Also the GIS cells of other operations (UNDOF, UNTSO and UN HQ NY DPKO) were granted access.

It is due to the Digital Maps Project for the unification of integrated and generally available digital maps in the areas of operations of UNDOF, UNIFIL and UNTSO, which was initiated in 2004, that common and unified cartographic material now exists. Currently over 180 maps, as per map type, scale and classification, may be viewed or accessed online over the UNIFIL network.

JGIS is ready to march within 15 minutes in the event of an incident in order to topographically survey and examine the site of the incident in the area of operations. This makes the JGIS section a permanent element of the UNIFIL investigation team, e.g. in live fire and mine incidents). The team is responsible for investigating operational incidents along the Blue Line and in its surrounding area or in the depth of the UNIFIL AOR (based on UN Resolution 1701), in order to counteract a possible escalation, which might be detrimental to UNIFIL or the UN Mission in Lebanon. This includes violations of the Blue Line by Lebanese shepherds or peasant farmers, fire fights between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), crossings of the Blue Line by demonstrators, riots, scuffles as well as improper handling of war relicts on the part of locals.

Currently, (other) web-based applications and services are developed and operated by JGIS and provided to the individual UNIFIL sections (military and civilian ones). The applications and services allow the users to collect the data relevant for their respective sections and to enter them into the JGIS data base themselves. From there the data are

  • uploaded into in the UNIFIL network (e.g. for briefs, further analyses, map printouts, etc.),
  • made available via Google earth, and
  • added to the JGIS network website.

The Blue Line Project (with interactive maps, video recordings, picture galleries, weekly reports and reference documents, miscellaneous, medical facilities and CIMIC activities) is open to all members of UNIFIL. Information on operational incidents, however, is accessible only by a restricted group of people, such as the JOC and the JMAC.

The Security Warden Information System (SWIS), developed by JGIS for the UNIFIL security department, is a Google Earth-based ‘web map’ application. SWIS contains, among other things, reference points, the security zone, the threat scenario and the threat level, the identification of evacuation routes, the number of affected UNIFIL members, the number and the location of assembly sites as well as detailed descriptions of the accommodations of UNIFIL members. Also other UN operations are considering the introduction of SWIS.

In the future even more web-based applications and services will be provided for the UNIFIL sections (military and civilian ones) via Google Earth. Moreover, a planning and information tool for military observers is to be delivered for monitoring the Blue Line.


The MILGEO staff officer’s tasks for the OGL comprise primarily

  • liaison officer tasks as regards the UNFIL JGIS section (planning, collection and processing of geodata as well as their verification and control),
  • map management (requesting, production, provision and distribution of operation maps to OGL teams, the UNTSO HQ in Jerusalem and the UN Liaison Office Beirut),
  • supporting the OGL teams in all aspects of MILGEO (e.g. planning, organising and conducting Blue Line briefings and training, elaboration of GPS user manuals),
  • project officer tasks (e.g. in the course of evaluations and new acquisitions of OGL equipment for statistical and mobile observation, and
  • UNIFIL Bordermarker 1 tasks as commander of the survey team (Geo Data Production or GDP).

UNIFIL Bordermarker 1

The UNIFIL Bordermarker 1 is the commander of the survey team. He is responsible, among other things, for the Blue Line marking project, including project planning, coordination, organisation and surveying.

For the visible marking of the Blue Line itself, what is known as Blue Line Committee, including a Tripartite Secretary’s Office, has been installed within the UNIFIL HQ. Their main tasks were coordination and cooperation as well as planning and developing confidence-building measures with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces. In addition, the Tripartite Secretary’s Office acts as mediator for developing and implementing the Blue Line marking field work processes and their standardised procedures in the area of operations of UNIFIL.

The principal tasks of the Bordermarker 1 were

  • coordinating with IDF, LAF and UNIFIL,
  • processing and providing information,
  • reporting to UNIFIL, UN organisations and NGOs,
  • maintaining the internal communication and information fluxes with the involved UNIFIL key personnel,
  • cooperation, as well as
  • liaising with all UNIFIL sections involved in the marking process.

The point of contact of the project (selection of the diverse Blue Line construction and demining sectors) and its processes (based on the agreements between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces) was the Tripartite-Secretary’s Office.

One of the challenges was coordinating the military elements for demining and visibly marking the Blue Line with Blue Line barrels and flags.

The tasks of the Bordermarker 1 also included

  • planning, organising and conducting general surveying tasks (e.g. determining fixed points in the field, new surveys of camps),
  • providing technical surveying assistance to mine clearance NGOs (for instance the Mine Action Coordination Centre or, the Swedish Rescue Service Agency and the Mine Action Group),
  • taking care of and maintaining the Blue Line and JGIS data bases, and
  • conducting briefings (including pilot flight planning) and training.

The Blue Line Project

At the ‘Three-Party’ meetings the LAF and the IDF agreed on standardised procedures regarding field work (surveying, mine clearance and construction activities) to implement the Blue Line marking. The procedure comprises

  • the transmission of the 198 Blue Line points (as UTM coordinates), as proposed and determined by UNIFIL, to the LAF and the IDF,
  • the acceptance of the coordinates on the part of the LAF and the IDF,
  • reconnaissance flights for getting up-to-date aerial pictures in the course of mine clearance and construction activities,
  • mine clearance, through clear lane ploughing, to the Blue Line points by UNFIL,
  • the surveying of Blue Line points by the LAF, the IDF and UNIFIL JGIS,
  • the construction of Blue Line markers by UNIFIL,
  • the verification of the coordinates after the completion of the Blue Line barrels or flags by the LAF, the IDF and UNIFIL JGIS, and
  • the (ceremonial) handing over of the Blue Line markers to the LAF by the Commander, UNIFIL.

What JGIS can contribute:

The two-man-teams of JGIS (operational for one week around the clock) can determine and mark the exact location of an incident in UTM coordinates and make a graphical report including maps after terminating their investigation.

In so doing, the Field Survey Team is, among other things, equipped with one Trimble R6 Real-Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (measurement accuracy of 1 cm), one Total Station (electronic theodolite with distance measurement), one GPS Tablet PC (mobile GPS receiver with digital maps) as well as one mobile GPS set.

The marking of the Blue Line

For mine clearance along the Blue Line seven demining teams were employed by Bordermarker 1. The teams were provided by China (CHINBATT), France (FRABATT), Belgium (BELBATT), Spain (SPANBATT) and Italy (ITALBATT). Due to the terrain demining was conducted without heavy mine clearance equipment. A total of ca. 50,000 m2 was cleared.

In so doing, the Blue Line was divided into five sectors.

The respective Blue Line barrels and flags were constructed by the teams of China, Turkey and Portugal, with the Chinese construction team preferring the traditional (i.e. transport of cement in buckets on bamboo poles), and therefore, personnel-intensive type of construction. The teams of Turkey and Portugal, in turn, resorted to pre-cast formwork material.

By January 2009 only 18 Blue Line markers (barrels and flags) had been built, at the end of May 2010 there were more than 50, sufficient to mark some 30 per cent of the overall Blue Line.

Challenges and Dangers

During the Blue Line marking the by far biggest challenge was to coordinate all target dates within the UNIFIL sections. Communication is a key factor for that - especially in the international environment of the UN. When the respective languages were spoken (at least at a basic level), smooth cooperation was given. The success of the Blue Line marking was based on mutual respect and coordination between everyone involved.

The possible presence of militant terrorist organisations, such as Jihad or Al Qaeda, was a constant threat for the employed UN personnel, especially in the proximity of the Blue Line. Another threat were the Palestinian camps (Ain al-Hilweh, Mieh Mieh) along the coastal road in the area of Tyre and on the road to Beirut in the area of Sidon.

The large number of mine fields along the Blue Line called for a high degree of attention. All the work of the construction teams had to be coordinated, exactly as the mine clearance activities. This required vast amounts of cooperation and communication as well as careful area-time-calculations.

Author: LtCol Helmut Leopold; born in 1962. 1982 Enlistment as a one-year volunteer at the 71 Militia Training Regiment in Klagenfurt, trained for the field fortification and barrage corps at Klagenfurt-Lendorf; mobilisation assignment as S2 in the HQ, 7 Infantry Brigade. International deployments (in Headquarters functions and also as a military observer), among others, at UNTSO, UNMEE, UNMOT, KFOR, UNDOF and SFOR.

Ministry of Defence | Rossauer Laende 1, 1090 Vienna
Imprint | Contact us