Servicemembers from the U.S. military and the Jordanian Armed Forces commenced a pre-scheduled two-week training exercise Sunday, a day after U.S., British and French forces launched an attack on Syria chemical weapons facilities as retaliation for the April 7 gas attack on Douma, Syria.
The annual air, land and sea exercise, named Eager Lion 2018, is U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) “premiere exercise in the Levant,” CENTCOM officials said in a press release.
Some of the scenarios that will be presented include long-range bomber missions, maritime security operations, and a ground force attack of an adversary. In addition, the forces will also practice conducting cyberwarfare and counter-terrorism operations.
“Our intent, as it has always been, is to constantly evolve scenarios to mirror the threats this region and the world face every day,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jon Mott, America’s exercise co-director in a Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) article. Mott also noted that Exercise Eager Lion 2018 is the eighth iteration of the joint training between the two nations.
This year the exercise will include a simulated chemical attack incorporated into the training for the first time in the exercise’s history, reports the Associated Press.
General Mott commented on the addition of the chemical attack into the exercise and called the threat “all too real, as we’ve seen recently in Syria.”
Although training may be Eager Lion 2018’s main goal, the exercise is also designed to highlight the close relationship Jordan enjoys with the United States. Jordan Armed Forces Brig. Staff Gen. Mohammad Al-Thalji called the U.S. “Jordan’s strongest ally,” and said in a DVIDS article that the exercise “provides an opportunity to reassure the people of Jordan, its uniformed services, its allies, and international partners as well that we are ready to protect Jordan from harm.”
Jordan is part of the U.S.-led effort in Syria to defeat ISIS. Although the governments of Jordan and Syria once had a cordial understanding, that relationship has cooled significantly since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The Jordanians also enjoy a working arrangement with Russian forces in the Levant.
While both the Jordanian Armed Forces and CENTCOM have high hopes for Eager Lion 2018, the U.S.’s last training exercise in Djibouti was interrupted for several days after a series of aviation incidents caused U.S. commanders to pause the training for a safety stand-down.