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Feature Stories

NEWS | Aug. 25, 2019

Friendship at center of large-scale Exercise Eager Lion 19

By Sgt. Devon Bistarkey, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment U.S. Army Central

Friendship, or “sidaqa” in Arabic, serves as the foundation for the more than 8,000 multinational troops converging in the Levant sub-region of Jordan as part of Exercise Eager Lion 2019, or EL19. In its ninth year, the exercise is the proving ground for multinational interoperability on land, in the air and sea for the 30 nations participating in the region’s largest training exercise.

Signifying the start of EL19, the Central Command director of exercises, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Swanson, alongside exercise co-director, Jordan Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Mohammad Al-Thalji, hosted a press conference at King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Jordan on Aug. 25.

“Conducting such a large and complex security event demonstrates our commitment to partnerships and maintaining a ready and responsive joint force operating in a complex environment where there are no easy victories or quick wins,” said Swanson.

Notional scenarios, a part of the exercise, revolve around challenges to regional security at the operational level. The scenarios aim to facilitate multilateral training in a low-threat but demanding environment.

Building on momentum from last year’s event, EL19 will again include a Global Strike Mission, Senior Leader Seminar and a Combined Air and Land Exercise, along with innovative training opportunities designed to meet evolving adversarial challenges.

“We’ve developed new ideas and scenarios to improve participating nations’ ability to outsmart and outmaneuver our near-peer adversaries, particularly in the areas of counter unmanned aerial vehicles, cyber security and expanded roles from elements of Jordan’s Quick Reaction Force, which includes the Female Engagement Team and British paratroopers,” said Swanson.

From the U.S., 3,700 troops are participating in EL19, with representatives from each branch integrating into a common operating environment alongside the cohort of nations from around the globe.

Outside of the opportunity to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures in the field, the scale of the event tests logistic and administrative abilities to plan and operate in a coalition-type environment.

“Joint efforts, coordination and the exchange of expertise here helps us to meet threats regionally and globally,” said Al-Thalji. “It is only through cooperation that we will be ready for operational challenges and remain ever vigilant.”

The day’s press conference demonstrated the strong relationship between the U.S. and Jordan as strategic partners and friends. The following weeks will include a multinational special operations “Friendship Jump,” long-range bomber missions, maritime security operations and cyber threat response training before EL19 culminates on Sept. 5.

Eager Lion is a multilateral exercise hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations, and considered the capstone of a broader U.S. military relationship with the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF). Jordan is one of U.S. Central Command’s (USCENTCOM) strongest and most reliable partners in the Levant sub-region.