The “Eager Lion 2013” military training drill kicked off on Sunday with participants from military forces from 19 countries, Jordanian and US generals said.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Amman on Sunday, Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) Chief-of-Staff for Operations Maj. Gen. Awni Edwan and Director of Exercises and Training and the US Central Command Maj. Gen. Robert Catalanotti said that 8,000 army personnel will be taking part in the exercise.
This year’s event is the second time “Eager Lion” is taking place in the Kingdom. The training will end on June 20, and aims at strengthening military cooperation and coordination between participating countries, Edwan said.
“This is a multinational exercise designed to provide multilateral forces with the opportunity to promote cooperation and interoperability among participating forces, build functional capacity, practise crisis management and enhance readiness,” Edwan added, noting that the drill will focus on unconventional warfare that could undermine national security such as insurgency, border security breaches and terrorism.
Edwan added that this year’s exercise will also integrate participants from non-military parties, such as government institutions, NGOs and civic society institutions, noting that the overall number of participants in the drill might exceed 15,000 personnel.
The drill is thought to be a response to any possible foreign threat to the Kingdom’s national security, especially in light of the turmoil that has been taking place in the region and the ongoing Syrian civil war.
However, Edwan insisted that execution of the exercise falls within JAF’s strategic military planning and has no connection to the regional developments.
“The exercise focuses on wide range offensive and defensive operations during unconventional warfare. The operations include integrated air and missile defence, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to address current and future complex security challenges,” he said.
“Eager Lion provides us with the opportunity to develop relationships and capabilities. Those relationships we build here during the exercise will be enduring ones that ensure our success in future joint endeavours,” Catalanotti said at the presser, adding that a wide variety of air, land and sea assets will be utilised so as to integrate a full spectrum of operations into combined arms exercises.
“All of this combined training, led by the JAF, will come together over the next two weeks, strengthening the partnership between 19 countries and increasing our ability to operate together during any contingency,” he said.
Major equipment utilised during the exercise will include amphibious assault ships, AV-B Harrier II, C130 Hercules, F18 Hornet, F16 Falcon, Patriot missile system and the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, according to the officers.
As far as Patriot missiles are concerned, the officers said that the decision to leave the Patriot missiles and some F-16 aircraft in the Kingdom after the conclusion of the drill is a political decision , stressing that according to the plan, no military assets or personnel will remain in the Kingdom after the drill is over.