Strategic Airpower

At the request of the Jordanian government, the United States will leave a detachment of F-16s and Patriot missiles in Jordan once Exercise Eager Lion concludes on June 20, Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement. However, Little also noted that “all other US personnel assigned to Jordan for Eager Lion will depart at the conclusion of the exercise.” For seven years, US Air Force, Royal Jordanian Air Force, and allied aircraft and personnel have converged in the Jordanian desert as part of Falcon Air Meet—but this year’s iteration was different thanks to an unfolding crisis only a car ride away from Amman. US officials have downplayed connecting scheduled military exercises with the conflict in Syria, and point to the ongoing Eager Lion exercises as an effort to build regional assurance to allies. But, there is no mistaking airpower is playing a strategic role in Washington’s decision making calculus. While the Colorado ANG’s 120th Fighter Squadron has long been slated as the lead US participant in this year’s FAM/Eager Lion activities, according to USAF and US Central Command officials, an additional deployment of F-16s from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 112th Fighter Squadron arrived in Jordan just after the start of Eager Lion activities—doubling the number of US F-16s in country. Click here to continue to full report.