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U.S. Army and Jordan Armed Forces continue partnership mission despite COVID-19 challenges

By U.S. Army Capt. Bryan Elliott and U.S. Army Capt. Ernest Wang Area Support Group - Jordan

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The United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have continued to cement their military partnership through the Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) in past months.

A Jordan Armed Forces Soldier conducts movement and maneuver drills during a recent Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) training cycle with the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army is in Jordan to partner closely with the Jordan Armed Forces in meeting common security challenges. Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the region.
A Jordan Armed Forces Soldier conducts movement and maneuver drills during a recent Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) training cycle with the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army is in Jordan to partner closely with the Jordan Armed Forces in meeting common security challenges. Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the region.
A Jordan Armed Forces Soldier conducts movement and maneuver drills during a recent Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) training cycle with the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army is in Jordan to partner closely with the Jordan Armed Forces in meeting common security challenges. Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the region.
Jordan Operational Engagement Program
A Jordan Armed Forces Soldier conducts movement and maneuver drills during a recent Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) training cycle with the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army is in Jordan to partner closely with the Jordan Armed Forces in meeting common security challenges. Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the region.
Photo By: Capt. Ernest Wang
VIRIN: 200316-A-VB837-0280
The JOEP mission is one of the largest training programs funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, and has endured despite challenges posed by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

U.S. Army and Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) Soldiers convened May 7 to recognize joint accomplishments of the JOEP mission during the Instructor Trainer Course (ITC) Class 20.1 graduation.

Graduates and attendees gathered with a limited audience and social distancing in effect to celebrate the role of the ITC in transitioning the JOEP from a peer-to-peer to a train-the-trainer model.

In the most recent training cycle, U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment (1-303rd Cavalry), 96th Troop Command, Washington Army National Guard, partnered with their JAF counterparts to develop and execute the ITC, which certified JAF junior officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) as lead JOEP Instructors.

Sgt. 1st Class Jerrod Potter, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Sierra, Staff Sgt. Alvin Proby, and Staff Sgt. Joshua Scheer of A Troop, 1-303rd Cavalry, led effort alongside JAF leadership to develop a curriculum from the ground up. The instructors incorporated refinements based on feedback from JAF students, many of whom participated in previous JOEP training cycles.

“The students who participated in the Instructor Trainer Course have more experience with JOEP. Our instructors recognized that and leveraged their experiences,” said Capt. Samantha Domingue, the A Troop Commander.

The ITC began on March 15, and a graduation originally was planned for April 23. The worldwide progression of COVID-19, however, forced a temporary pause in training so that course leaders could implement additional safety measures to protect both U.S. and Jordanian Soldiers.

Despite these challenges, U.S. and JAF leadership overcame COVID-19-related obstacles to safely execute the course, resulting in the successful graduation of 31 JAF JOEP Instructors.

Present at the graduation ceremony were key U.S. military leaders in Jordan. Representing the Military Assistance Program-Jordan was Col. David Kobs, the Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Amman. From Area Support Group-Jordan (ASG-J) were Col. Derek Ulehla and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. James Marsh, respectively the ASG-J Commander and the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the U.S. military in Jordan. Representing the 1-303rd Cavalry were Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Timothy Ozmer and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. John Hurt.

Col. Andrew Caliendo of Task Force Spartan-Jordan delivered remarks as the key note speaker.

“As I look around this room today I see JAF instructors from various and diverse backgrounds,” said Caliendo. “Regardless of how you got here, this diversity of experience is your collective strength, and by working through this course together you have all demonstrated a level of excellence, and commitment to leading the program into the future.”

Beginning in June, the new JAF instructors will work side-by-side with their U.S. counterparts and the 4th Prince Hassan Mechanized Battalion in the next JOEP cycle. The JAF instructors will lead training on infantry, mortar, sniper, and medic specialties over the course of 14 weeks to prepare the 4th Prince Hassan Mechanized Battalion for future operations, including border defense.

“Jordan has experienced different kinds of threats in the past few decades, who have used terrorism to advance their political agendas,” said Col. Raad Alamairah, who spoke on behalf of the JAF. “During this time, many friends from all around the world have come to Jordan to assist in defending our borders and eliminating these threats. The U.S. is among the best to have come to support our objectives."

The U.S. Army is in Jordan to partner closely with the JAF in meeting common security challenges. Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the region.