NEWS | May 3, 2018

Jordan Armed Forces Imams and U.S. military chaplains exercise their faith during Eager Lion 2018

By Courtesy Story U.S. Army Central

Senior religious affairs leaders of the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) and U.S. military met with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Grand Mufti Mohammad Khalaileh at the Department General Ifta’a and Jordanian Center for Countering Extremism (JCCE) here April 9-12.


The event kicked off a religious affairs staff coordination and exchange as part of Eager Lion 2018 (EL 18), an annual two-week bilateral military exercise led by the JAF that involved about 3,500 U.S. military members April 12-25.

For the American and Jordanian military religious support experts, EL18 surpassed previous years in two ways - the level of participation from both countries and practical application of their teachings well beyond an academic exercise. This year, over 30 Jordanian Imams and U.S. religious affairs specialists representing a wide array of faith groups, collaborated and participated in combined joint religious discussion.

“The main benefit of civil and military Imams working together is that there is one message being (broadcast) from the top Imams within Jordan. The civilian Grand Mufti and the Jordan Armed Forces Grand Mufti are in one accord in providing leadership to the (subordinate) Imams,” said U.S. Army Maj. Pinkie Fischer, the U.S. Army Central Contingency Command Post chaplain.

“They hosted seminars and brought leaders from all faith groups together to discuss how they can further strengthen their co-existence in the region,” she said.

Other participants included Brig. Gen. Majid Darawsheh, the JAF Grand Mufti; U.S. Army Col. Jess Abbott, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) deputy command chaplain; U.S. Army Col. Joey Byrd, command chaplain for USARCENT; U.S. Navy Cdr. Carey Cash, U.S. Navy Central command chaplain; and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Larry Dabeck, deputy Joint Staff chaplain from the Department of Defense. 

 

"The message was clear that Muslim and Christian leaders work together in teaching and promoting peace to diverse audiences throughout Jordan."U.S. Army Maj. Pinkie Fischer, USARCENT Contingency Command Post Chaplain


Senior religious affairs leaders of the Jordan Armed Forces and U.S. military begin their staff integration week of Eager Lion 18 at Prince Hassan College April 9-10. Brig. Gen. Majid Darawasheh, the JAF Grand Mufti, gave an overview of the Amman Message to U.S. chaplains and JAF Imams. Events like these help to build trust and understanding between service members and citizens of different nations.
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Senior religious affairs leaders of the Jordan Armed Forces and U.S. military begin their staff integration week of Eager Lion 18 at Prince Hassan College April 9-10. Brig. Gen. Majid Darawasheh, the JAF Grand Mufti, gave an overview of the Amman Message to U.S. chaplains and JAF Imams. Events like these help to build trust and understanding between service members and citizens of different nations.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo
VIRIN: 180410-A-TA175-403

Throughout Eager Lion’s history, military religious leaders from participating nations convened for bi-lateral or multi-lateral conferences featuring slide show presentations on a few topics and theoretical discussion. EL 18 was unique in that participants also conducted one week of staff integration, followed by a side-by-side practical exercise and real world civil outreach.

The JCCE director briefed all the leaders on the challenges religious extremism presents to regional security and military operations. Following this, the chaplains and Imams also visited with the Grand Mufti, who expressed how civilian and military Imams work together cooperatively in providing religious support. 

While the majority of the JAF is Muslim, there are practicing Christians of various denominations openly serving in the JAF. Christian churches meet the majority of their religious support needs, but on the battlefield, the JAF Imams coordinate to ensure all men and women serving in the JAF have religious freedom and are able to practice the tenants of their respective faith. 

“The message was clear that Muslim and Christian leaders work together in teaching and promoting peace to diverse audiences throughout Jordan,” said Fischer. 

 

"This exercise and exchange demonstrated the common interest within our religious communities in the promotion of peace, understanding, and respect across cultures."U.S. Army Col. Joey Byrd, USARCENT Command Chaplain


As part of Eager Lion 2018 Religious Affairs staff integration week, members of the U.S. military Chaplains Corps and JordanArmed Forces (JAF) Ifta’a conducted mass casualty (MASCAL) training at the Joint Training Center April 12.

Over 30 U.S. Chaplains, NCOs, medics and JAF Imams demonstrated a collective interest in sharing tactics, techniques, and procedures during MASCAL operations. Together they focused on identifying and integrating best ministry practices in disaster response operations during simulated MASCAL scenarios. This bilateral cooperation enhanced interoperability in providing the best spiritual care to wounded in a controlled chaotic environment.
180410-A-TA174-665
As part of Eager Lion 2018 Religious Affairs staff integration week, members of the U.S. military Chaplains Corps and JordanArmed Forces (JAF) Ifta’a conducted mass casualty (MASCAL) training at the Joint Training Center April 12. Over 30 U.S. Chaplains, NCOs, medics and JAF Imams demonstrated a collective interest in sharing tactics, techniques, and procedures during MASCAL operations. Together they focused on identifying and integrating best ministry practices in disaster response operations during simulated MASCAL scenarios. This bilateral cooperation enhanced interoperability in providing the best spiritual care to wounded in a controlled chaotic environment.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo
VIRIN: 180410-A-TA174-665

Following the staff exchange, the chaplains from both militaries worked in tandem at the start of Eager Lion on Apr. 15, to provide religious support during a notional mass casualty event. 

“Eager Lion 18 was the high water mark for the JAF Imams and U.S. military chaplains as we exchanged best practices on how our respective faiths and doctrine inform how we conduct religious support,” said Chaplain Byrd. 

The exchange culminated in a community outreach visit coordinated by the JAF and U.S. religious advisors to allow service members from both militaries to spend a day with the orphans at Amman SOS Children’s Village April 23. Events like these help to build trust between service members and citizens of different nations.

According to Byrd, the Jordanians’ feedback was overwhelmingly supportive and positive. 

“Eager Lion 18 achieved two important things. First, the orphanage visit was so successful in bringing people with vastly different backgrounds and experiences to work together toward common goals. I hope to do that again,” said Byrd. “Also, this exercise and exchange demonstrated the common interest within our religious communities in the promotion of peace, understanding, and respect across cultures.”