May 23, 2016 —
ZARQA, Jordan (May 23, 2016) —
The most critical element of Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command’s
largest military exercise in its area of responsibility, is the great
integration between Jordanian and U.S. forces, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel
said here Sunday.
The CENTCOM commander spoke with reporters at the Joint
Training Center before observing events taking place on the seventh day
of this year’s bilateral May 15-24 exercise.
“As you go through these command posts you'll see Jordanian
officers and [non-commissioned officers] right next to our officers and
NCOs working side by side and working through tactical and operational
problems,” Votel said.
Eager Lion 2016
Eager Lion 2016 is a weeklong series of scenarios that simulate
a coordinated, partnered military response to conventional and
unconventional threats. Exercise areas include border security, command
and control, cyber defense and battle-space management, according to a
CENTCOM fact sheet.
About 6,000 service members are participating in the exercise,
Jordanian Gen. Fahd al-Damen, director of joint training for the Jordan
Armed Forces, told reporters -- 3,000 from each country. Military
members from CENTCOM represent its air, land and maritime components.
At an exercise observation site near the Joint Training Center,
Army Maj. Gen. Ralph H. Groover III, director of CENTCOM’s Exercises
and Training Directorate, described events happening on the range below,
where moving military vehicles created a temporary dust storm that blew
over the observation center.
“We have a brigade maneuver on an armor range occurring here
with an attack into a military operations urban terrain activity,”
Groover said, “so this is a combined Jordanian and U.S. tactical
movement on the range.”
Groover said the exercise has been multilateral most years
although the first year, in 2011, was a U.S.-Jordanian bilateral
CENTCOM Partner Network
Now, he said, “we're going to alternate bilateral, multilateral
every [other] year. Nineteen nations participated last year, and it’s
looking like there will probably be more nations based on the interest
we're getting on participation next year.”
“Another important thing we're going to see in this exercise,”
Votel added, “is further implementation of the CENTCOM Partner Network, a
common information architecture we put in place here that we've been
building for a couple of years.”
The network is a CENTCOM initiative designed to increase lines
of communication among coalition forces and Jordanian counterparts over a
secured computer network.
According to CENTCOM, the combatant command began working to
develop a coalition data-sharing network in 1999, and a version of the
system was used and further developed in Afghanistan during Operation
In the following years the network has been refined, benefiting
from technological advances in computing and computer security
occurring as part of the DoD-wide development of the Joint Information
Environment, or JIE -- what DoD Chief Information Officer Terry
Halvorsen calls a concept of modernizing and integrating all DoD
networks and systems.
“This is the first time we've been able to roll it out in a big
exercise like this,” Votel said. “We’re working through the bugs
associated with that but in general [getting] pretty positive results.”
The Notion of Teamwork
In an interview with DoD News the day before the exercise, Votel said the notion of teamwork is important to him and to CENTCOM.
“One of my principal responsibilities is building relationships
and building partnerships,” he said. “I certainly did that in the
[special operations forces] world, and I certainly see the importance of
doing it here when I'm now functioning not just as CENTCOM commander
but as our coalition force commander” in the fight against the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant.
The nation’s greatest successes have been through coalitions,
the general said, “where we've been able to work with our very best
partners to accomplish important national and international objectives,
so that's the way we operate.”
Each participating nation brings different skills, capabilities
and authorities, Votel said, and mixing those together creates the very
“We simply, the United States, can't do all of this ourselves. We’ve got to leverage our partners,” he added.