The latest book by Moustafa El-Assad
from Blue Steel Books
is Landing Zone Lebanon, UNIFIL 2006
. The book follows and photo documents the deployment of United Nations forces into Lebanon in 2006 as part on the United Nations Interim Forces In Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The deployment of United Nations forces in Lebanon began back in 1978 and UNIFIL forces have been present through the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and the Israeli and Hezbollah battles in 2006. Presently there 15,000 UNIFIL troops from 21 different nations in Lebanon monitoring the cease-fire conditions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and the ever-dangerous “Blue Line” along the Israeli and Lebanese border. The UN troops are equipped with a variety of vehicles ranging from patrol vehicles, armoured cars, tanks, and self propelled guns. The book focuses on the wide variety of vehicles deployed with UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.
The book is produced in soft cover format with 94 pages and approximately 340 colour images. There are also several reprints of UNIFIL AFV artwork included inside the front and rear covers.
A very good and concise synopsis of the conflict in southern Lebanon and the deployment of the reinforced UNIFIL forces is provided by Sampo Mikkola who has previously served with UNIFIL as part of the Finnish contingent. He gives a chronological timeline of the conflicts that have occurred in Lebanon leading to the deployment and current reinforcement of the UNIFIL forces.
The remainder of the book covers the vehicle deployment of UNIFIL forces in Lebanon from August 2006 to late 2006. The book is broken down into thirteen sections covering the majority of the UNIFIL vehicles deployed along with coverage of Israeli and Lebanese Army vehicles. Some of the vehicles covered in the book include the French Leclerc, Italian Centauro, Lebanese Army T-55, Spanish AAV7, Irish Piranha III, and the Israeli Nakpadon. There is also coverage of the Russian Engineering contingent that is not under the control of the UN forces. They are in Lebanon to assist in the re-building of bridges. All of the Russian vehicles will be donated to the Lebanese Army when the Russian mission is completed.
The vehicles and troops included in the book are:
- The French battalion
- The Italian Battalion
- The Spanish Battalion
- The Russian Battalion
- The Irish Battalion
- The Ghana Battalion
- The Lebanese Army
- The Israeli Army
- The Belgian Battalion
- The Chinese Battalion
- The Indian Battalion
- The Indonesian Battalion
- The Turkish Battalion
This book is not meant to be a walk around of the vehicles deployed. It shows the vehicles being deployed to Lebanon, transitioning from standard camouflage patterns to the white UN paint or UN markings, and onto the actual patrols and missions of monitoring the “Blue Line”. The book contains excellent high quality photos that are able to provide outstanding references for the vehicle details, markings, and weathering. The coverage of the UN white painted vehicles from a variety of contingents shows some of the transitions from freshly painted vehicles, with a variety of different styles of UN markings, to very quickly weathered vehicles, showing the accumulation of unique dirt and dust patterns. The coverage of both the Israeli and Lebanese Army vehicles is interestingly captured in the images. Some of these images were photographed at a distance and while the forces were conducting operations. It is obvious that neither the Israeli or Lebanese forces had much time to stop and pose for photos. Also provided in the book are multiple candid images of the UNIFIL, Lebanese, and Israeli troops. These images show the troops’ uniforms, weapons, and equipment. There are very good images of the new crew helmets worn by the French Leclerc tank crews. Coverage of all the vehicles photographed is not equal. I do not criticize the author or contributors for this, as it does not appear that anyone is embedded with the UNIFIL forces and all of the images were taken by being in the right place at the right time.
Overall I was impressed with the captions of the photos. The author appears very in tune with the modern AFV modeller and on several occasions he points out features in images important to modellers. The author also includes in the captions unique vehicle features and explanations as to why not all the UNIFIL vehicles are painted white.
For the modern AFV modeller the book provides excellent reference material for vehicle details, weathering, markings, Lebanese terrain images, and potential diorama ideas. The majority of the images were taken from the late summer to early winter in southern Lebanon. This is a wide enough time period for a modeller to get a perspective of the weathering of the vehicles with the changes in the weather. Due to the fact that not all the UNIFIL vehicles are painted white the book will also be of use to a multitude of modern modellers in order to see camouflage patterns and vehicle weathering.
The book is well formatted and informative to all modern modellers, persons interested in modern AFVs, or persons interested in conflict in southern Lebanon. The book provides images and captions from both a military historian and modeller’s perspective. The images are of a very high quality and show excellent details of the deployed vehicles and troops. It would be nice to have more images of some of the vehicles deployed but again this is not a walk around book and it tries to provide coverage of as many vehicles as possible. It would also be very nice to have a follow up book to show how the vehicles have weathered over the winter of 2006 and into the spring of 2007. This book is limited to 1000 printed copies. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in modern AFVs or in the UNIFIL deployment.
Thank you to Moustafa El-Assad
for providing me with the review book.