On October 23, 1983, nearly simultaneous suicide truck bombings killed 241 U.S. peacekeepers in their barracks at the Beirut International Airport (BIA) and 58 French paratroopers at their headquarters two miles north of BIA. In this long-awaited book, the Marine Corps commander of the U.S. Multi-National Peacekeeping Force that was destroyed by terrorists in Lebanon tells his story for the first time. Together, these suicide bombings comprised the largest nonnuclear explosion ever recorded and are now recognized as a seminal event leading to the current war on terrorism. Such acts of war revealed a new, highly effective tactic, which complemented the terrorist’s strategic goals—the withdrawal of the peacekeepers and Western influence from Lebanon and a change in U.S. policy.
Peacekeepers at War lays out, in detail, a sequence of events leading up to the suicide truck bombings from which one can extrapolate the rationale, motives, and perpetrators behind it. Geraghty argues that the absence of any retribution against the perpetrators emboldened the terrorists to assume they could attack Americans and Western interests with impunity. This led to kidnappings, torture, and the murders of Americans and other Westerners.
Peacekeepers at War will be of interest to general readers who want to learn more about this seminal event and its effects on the current global war on terrorism.
Col. Timothy J. Geraghty, USMC (Ret.) entered the Marine Corps in 1959 following graduation from St. Louis University. He commanded a reconnaissance company in Vietnam and, while a lieutenant colonel, served in a special assignment with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Operations Group. He commanded the Twenty-fourth Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut in 1983 as part of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force. Upon his retirement from the Corps, he returned to the CIA to serve in the Counterterrorism Center. He later worked in private industry and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Gen. Alfred M. Gray, Jr. was the 29th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
“Concise and heartfelt. This book works because Col. Geraghty’s personal stake in the events and his emotional investment that can be found on every page.”
-- Marine Corps Gazette, March 2010
"Geraghty's book is an eye-opener for anyone who wants to learn more about what happened in 1983 before and after the awful destruction of the Marine barracks in Beirut."
-- Military Heritage, April 2010
"Peacekeepers at War provides intimate insight into the dynamics involved as 24th MAU was probed and tested by Islamist extremists bent upon an ideological war in which we still are engaged, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but here at home as well. . . . [A] meticulously detailed report from the on-scene commander. It is a military tome that I'm sure scholars will mine for years to come, and a historical tale of challenge, courage, and determination in the face of horrific adversity that needed to be told."
-- Leatherneck, January 2010
“The 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine Beirut compound and of the nearby French paratroopers’ building was a declaration of war by radical Islamists against Western influence in the Middle East. It marked the beginning of an asymmetrical war, one that continues to this day. The Marines in Lebanon, under the command of Col. Tim Geraghty, realized the magnitude of the challenge and the seriousness of the dangers this meant to the security of the free world. Yet it took the politicians in Washington 18 more years to reach the same conclusions and to connect the dots; and this was only after terrorists attacked the U.S. homeland, killing 10 times as many people. Colonel Geraghty was made the scapegoat of Washington’s failed policies and political blunders in the Middle East. For more than two decades Tim Geraghty carried that heavy burden in silence but with the courage and dignity of a Marine officer. Now, 25 years after the fact, he speaks out. Maybe this time someone will listen.”
-- Claude Salhani, editor, Middle East Times (Washington, D.C.) and former chief of the UPI Bureau in Beirut (1981-1984)