Military forces from Jordan and the U.S. are drilling together in the Jordanian desert with 17 other nations in Exercise Eager Lion 2013 -- the third such military drill to take place in Jordan.
The 12-day war games, slated to end Thursday, was explained by a statement on the website of the U.S. Armed Forces Central Command as an opportunity to "promote cooperation and interoperability among participants," but appears clearly intended to send a warning to Jordan’s northern neighbor, Syria.
At least one or two Patriot anti-missile batteries was recently deployed by the U.S. along the Jordanian-Syrian border to defend the kingdom against spillover from the country’s savage civil war. A similar set of four such batteries were deployed by NATO along Turkey’s border with Syria in January for similar reasons.
Involving forces on land, sea and in the air, the exercises bring together 8,000 troops from a total of 19 European and Arab nations. All are engaged in learning counterinsurgency techniques, fighting terrorism, non-standard warfare methods and border security.
Among the participants are also 7,000 civilian workers from humanitarian non-governmental organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The drill is designed to build the capability to cooperate and interoperate between the participating forces, build functional capacity, practice crisis management and enhance readiness, according to a statement by the U.S. Armed Forces.
A paratroop drill earlier this week described as a "friendship jump" by the U.S. Central Command public affairs department "was designed to help U.S. paratroopers "learn how they conduct an airborne operation."
U.S. Army Maj. Ryan Schloesser, civil affairs planning chief, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) said the jump was also "a good opportunity for them to watch us conduct an airborne operation."
Jordanian Chief Warrant Officer Firas Domi, command sergeant major of the Jordanian special operations forces commented, "We learn a lot from them – and sometimes we teach them something."