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By Maj. Chris Brautigam
U.S. Army Central
From the top of the hill overlooking the training area you can see a few armored vehicles moving across the desert, racing to their battle positions and getting ready to fire.
This scenario is seen in countless training exercises around the world, except that during exercise Eager Lion 16, May 15-24, the Jordanian Armed Forces, U.S. Army Central, the U.S. Marine Corps partnered to increase their ability to operate together in a complex environment.
"Eager Lion is the largest logistics and sustainment exercise USARCENT conducts," said Lt. Col. Jeffery Lucowitz, the chief of exercise branch in the USARCENT logistics directorate.
There are over 1,200 U.S. Army Soldiers representing units participating in the field training exercise, or acting as the higher and lower commands, like the USARCENT Contingency Command Post, which represents USARCENT’s function as the Coalition Forces Land Component Command.
As the lead service provider of logistics and contracting for the exercise, USARCENT is responsible for ensuring personnel, equipment, and supplies are in place, in addition to the essential contracts, to provide food and other necessities to the participants for the entire exercise.
"Eager Lion is planned and executed on a nine-month cycle," said Lt. Col. Derek Mixon, the USARCENT training and exercises-Levant branch chief and lead exercise planner for Eager Lion. "This abbreviated training cycle presents challenges which must be overcome by close relationships with our JAF counterparts."
This is the sixth iteration of Eager Lion, a week-long exercise that tests the combined force ability to mount a coordinated response during a series of conventional and unconventional scenarios.
"This exercise enhances the U.S. and JAF force’s ability to learn from each other on how to operate in a deployed environment." Mixon said.
"Eager Lion is a unique and precious opportunity," said Brig Gen. Mekhled Suheim, the military counselor at the Jordanian Embassy in Brussels. Suheim also served as the CFLCC deputy commander during the exercise. "The exercise strengthens our relationship with the U.S., enhances our staff capability and knowledge, especially during a time when we face unprecedented threats in the region."
Lucowitz said this exercise is a large undertaking designed to stress units and institutional systems from all nations, and helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of each nation’s processes and capabilities.
Mixon added that the planning for this exercise required nine separate conferences, starting with an initial concept development conference, and subsequent conferences to arrange logistics and develop exercise scenarios.
"Working with the JAF allowed us to see ourselves differently, through their eyes, which helps us get better," said Maj. Julius Boyd, the USARCENT CCP logistics officer. "They have different processes, logistics doctrine and concept of operations than we do. We had the opportunity to learn about their systems, which are a little different than ours, but get us to the same end state using different methods."
Boyd’s counterpart, Capt. Zaid Mohammed Al Krisha, continued this thought and added that, "we now know where our differences are and how to work through them."
During the exercise, U.S. Army and Jordanian officers, worked together in the CCP as part of one combined staff.
"The Jordanian armed forces integrated very well into the CCP staff," said Suheim. "Despite differences in techniques, language, and the differences in our use of technology, we came together with the will to overcome challenges and we have that."
In addition to the lessons learned from the participants, those planning and coordinating the exercise gained a rewarding experience.
"I find planning and executing these large scale exercises in the joint environment with the service components and coalition countries very rewarding as we develop personal relationships with our host nation counterparts," Lucowitz said. "These relationships are invaluable to conducting future operations that would be necessary for an exercise or real world operation."
Suheim, who has participated in Eager Lion before, said, "Conducting this annual exercise will continue to help us integrate with each other and prepare for any crisis or operation that serves our mutual interest."
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