JEBEL PETRA, Jordan - After two weeks of multilateral preparation and rehearsals, Exercise Eager Lion 2014 coalition forces conducted a live-fire, counter attack exercise at a range near Jebel Petra, Jordan, June 5.
Ground forces from the U.S. Marine Corps, Jordanian Armed Forces, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland coordinated the counter attack with aviation units from the Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Turkey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“Since Jordanian Armed Forces and the American military have been partners on the battle field, it is fitting that we continue that partnership during exercise Eager Lion,” said Brig. Gen. Gregg P. Olson, commanding general, Command Element Marine Forces Central Command Forward. “This live-fire exercise, which combines air and ground ‘fire and maneuvers,’ is a great opportunity to display our interoperability and our shared understanding of combined arms.”
Notable guests included Prince of Jordan, Faisal bin al-Hussein, Jordanian Armed Forces Chief of Joint Staff, Lieut. Gen. Mashal al-Zaben, U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Catalanotti, U.S. CENTCOM Director of Exercises and Training Directorate. Overall, more than 300 distinguished guests and members of the media attended the event.
“We are lucky to have had such great partners from the Jordanians, UK Royal Commandos and all the other participants and observers over the past two weeks," said Olson, who was also the Eager Lion 2014 combined forces land component commander.
Brigadier Gen. Olson’s land-forces counterpart in the CALFEX was Jordanian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Ali Al-Domi, commanding general, 99th Armoured Brigade.
“With the guidance of His Majesty King Abdullah and our chief of staff General Zaben to have developed the Jordanian Armed Forces, we are honored to train with our brother nations,” said Brig. Gen. Al-Domi. “To conduct an exercise of this size and to exchange experiences with all the participants is a great honor. From the soldier to the commanders, we have had a good understanding at all levels of the forces on the battlefield.”
Distinguished guests, members of the media and military officials from more than 20 countries watched on as Jordanian and British Royal Marine Commando snipers engaged targets from 600 meters away.
After the crack of their sniper rifles rippled through the air, their rounds soon found their targets, sending green and white smoke into the Jordanian sky – the signal for the air-and-ground-support counter attack to begin. The counter attack was against a simulated battalion sized enemy with armored vehicles.
Within moments, Turkish F-4 Phantoms and KSA F-15 Eagles jet fighters roared through the skies for a low-level pass and show of force to the enemy.
Next, Jordanian soldiers from the 1st Royal Artillery Regiment fired white phosphorus rounds marking enemy targets for close air support.
RJAF and U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, and U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornets each dropped 500-pound Mark 82 bombs with deadly accuracy, along with their 30mm machine guns shredding the adversary ground targets to pieces. The Royal Artillery soldiers followed, “raining a storm” of high explosive shells on the enemy positions, setting the stage for ground forces to move into position.
Seconds later, Royal Jordanian Cobra attack helicopters filled the sky to provide added overhead protection and gun power to armored vehicles from 1/6 Battalion Landing Team, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Jordan’s Prince Talal 5th Mechanized Battalion and 7th Royal Tank Bn.
M1 Abrams, Assault Amphibious Vehicles and Light Armored Reconnaissance and Jordanian YPR armored troop carriers moved with precision to form a linear formation.
More than 200 coalition-forces, ground troops disembarked their armored vehicles to fill in the gaps and engage their targets. The “foot” soldiers quickly closed on the enemy positions by fire and maneuver, and cleared the objective.
“Marines train like we fight. Opportunities for Marines to work with our coalition partner nations in dynamic and challenging environments, such as Eager Lion, drives our NCOs and junior officers to think outside the box and excel,” said Sgt. Maj. Mario A. Marquez, CE MARFOR CENTCOM FWD sergeant major. “The experience gained here serves to develop efficient war fighting and leadership capabilities critical to the skill set required of an expeditionary Marine.”
The CALFEX wrapped up with a detainee demonstration by the Jordanian military police, a casualty evacuation demonstration utilizing the Jordanian Super Puma transport helicopter, and an aerial re-supply by USAF and RJAF C-130 cargo planes.
Exercise Eager Lion 2014, which has been conducted annually since 2011, included more than 12,500 service members from more than 20 countries. The exercise provided multilateral forces with the opportunity to promote cooperation and interoperability among coalition forces, as well as building functional capacity, practice crisis management and enhance overall readiness.
As the smoke and dust of the day’s event dissipated, Marquez and all present were in agreement that Eager Lion, and its live-fire exercise, was a roaring success.
“This year’s continued efforts and progress with our Jordanian and coalition brothers will undoubtedly maintain the important relationships between our countries for years to come.”