In early August, fighting from the conflict in Syria spilled over into Lebanon, catching the village of Arsal in the conflict and catapulting the country directly into the conflict spreading throughout the Middle East.
Reaction from some corners was fairly immediate. Saudi Arabia agreed to provide the Lebanese Army with an additional $1 billion for military equipment (on top of the $3 billion grant it agreed in December.) Last Thursday, the US followed this up with an unspecified pledge for ammunition and other supplies.
Lebanon, however, has become frustrated with the slow delivery of equipment from France. So it is now asking the US for aircraft, such as the Cessna AC-208B Combat Caravan (shown above), to perform close air support missions, presumably purchased with Saudi grant money.
This request comes on the heels of US airstrikes to support Kurdish actions against Islamic State forces in northern Iraq, as well as a well-publicized resupply effort via airdrops for thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on a mountain near Sinjar.
Airpower has been a significant political and narrative force in this summer's outbreak of fighting in the Middle East. Aside from the ability to gather information and provide concrete kinetic effects against targets, airpower can also be psychologically and politically potent.
It surely has not escaped the attention of the Islamic State's senior leadership that airpower has been involved in some of their highest profile setbacks. It isn't clear how they will respond to airstrikes in the medium to long term.
Surface-to-air missile systems aren't easy to come by without the support of a major state. Nonetheless, such technology — particularly shoulder-fired man-portable air defense systems (or MANPADS) — will be right at the top of the Islamic State shopping list.
Follow Ryan Faith on Twitter: @Operation_Ryan
Image via Dvidshub.net