June 11, 2013—Amman, Jordan—While headlines continue to trickle out of the neighboring civil war in Syria, the US and Jordan kicked off a wide-ranging multi-national military exercise Sunday, touting wide participation of many Arab and allied militaries as a show of stability in the Middle East.
Exercise Eager Lion 2013, the third iteration of the exercise, is the largest of the efforts yet with some 8,000 personnel in total participating from 19 countries, including about 5,000 troops from all four US military services, states a Pentagon release
. The exercise, held June 9-20 at locations across Jordan, is an effort that challenges all participants to respond to “realistic, modern day security scenarios by integrating a variety of disciplines in the air, on land and at sea,” and will serve to enhance regional stability, said Army Maj.Gen. Robert Catalanotti, US Central Command’s director of exercises and training, during a joint press conference in the Amman suburb of Zarqa.
The Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing has dispatched F-16s
, which will participate in a range of training scenarios, such as air-to-air exercises, air defense drills and joint air-to-ground live weapons training with their fellow F-16 pilots and crews in the Royal Jordanian Air Force, in the Falcon Air Meet—a component of Exercise Eager Lion.
Border security, and irregular warfare all are focus areas of the exercise, said Maj. Gen. Awni el-Edwan, operations chief of staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces, during Sunday’s press conference.
According to US Central Command officials and statements, humanitarian relief and crisis management, involving non government agency civilians as well as Jordanian military and exercise participants also are a part of the effort. Jordan is home to over a half million refugees from neighboring Syria, by official estimates, a number which continues to rise steadily as the Assad government fights for control of key cities and towns.