Marines, Jordanians train on fighting radiological threat
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 19, 2016
AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. Marines and Jordanian armed forces took part in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare training Wednesday, amid recent reports that Islamic State militants used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq.
And while none of the scenarios during this year’s Eager Lion exercise are aimed at specific groups or threats, what is happening in the region does play a role in the decision-making process for the exercise, said Maj. Gen. Ralph Groover III, U.S. Central Command director of exercises and training.
The exercise is designed to work on responses to conventional and unconventional threats, Groover said.
Wednesday’s training focused on a radiological threat, but chemical and biological threats will also be addressed throughout the exercise.
U.S. Marines worked alongside Jordanian forces on a scenario that saw a vehicle carrying radiological material cross a country border. When it was determined the vehicle had radiological material, the two groups mitigated the threat by securing the site and rendering the material safe.
Working together helped both sides understand each other’s tactics and techniques, said Cpl. Hayden Ainsworth, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force CBRN specialist.
“It’s actually really nice to have extra hands to do this scenario, because in reality, if we were out working with other countries, and something like this happened, we’d probably want as many hands on it as possible,” said Ainsworth.
Exercises like Eager Lion, which bring countries together, should be a signal to potential adversaries that there is a strong resistance to threats in the region, Groover said.
In Syria, for instance, armed groups have possibly used chemical weapons on civilians in a district of Aleppo, Amnesty International said last week. Claims that the Islamic State has used chemical weapons — including both chlorine and mustard gas — have also been fairly common.
“The goal (of the training) is to increase our interoperability, develop each others forces, and it’s also a demonstration or a counter to regional threats,” said Groover. “It’s also a demonstration of the deep commitment the United States has to Jordan as a very important partner in the region.”