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Large-scale exercise in Jordan gets underway

U.S. Marines show a Jordanian soldier how they do their reconnaissance sketches when on patrol during 2013's Eager Lion exercise.

Eager Lion, a two-week, 22-nation exercise that includes 6,000 U.S. troops, has kicked off in Jordan.

In all, more than 12,000 personnel will take part.

This fourth annual Jordanian-led exercise focuses on a wide range of offensive and defensive operations that include disaster relief, strategic communication and rescue operations.

Officials say the training will use a wide variety of air, land and sea assets at multiple training areas throughout Jordan.

“Those relationships we build here during the exercise will be enduring ones that ensure our success in future joint endeavors,” Maj. Gen. Robert Catalanotti, the U.S. Central Command director of exercises and training, said during opening remarks at a press conference Tuesday in Jordan.

Participating U.S. forces are comprised of special operations forces, and Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed to the region as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group.

As with last year, the exercise is taking place in the shadow of the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria that threatens to destabilize the region. The conflict has caused nearly 600,000 refugees to come across the border into Jordan, putting a strain on the country’s economy and infrastructure, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

After last year’s Eager Lion exercise, the Pentagon left behind a detachment of F-16s and U.S. Patriot missiles at the request of the Jordanian government. Last week, the Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said there are no plans to leave any U.S. forces behind this year, in response to a reporter’s question.

Eager Lion will run until June 8.

simoes.hendrick@stripes.com
Twitter: @hendricksimoes

 

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