More than 8,000 multinational troops participated in Exercise Eager Lion 19. This is the ninth year of the exercise – an event that provides for multinational interoperability for some 30 nations. The United States contributed about 3,700 troops to the exercise which was held in Jordan from August 25th to September 5th, 2019.
The United States and Jordan provided the exercise direction – and much of the activities took place at the King Abdullah II special Operations Training Center in Jordan. There were 14 nations that joined the U.S. and Jordanian SOF teams participating in the SOF-related training events. U.S. Central Command, conventional, and special operations units played leading roles in the conduct of the two-week long exercise.
This is the ninth iteration of Eager Lion. SOF-related training events included counter unmanned aerial system training, dive operations, vehicle interdiction, UH-60 rappel and hoist, MEDEVAC, fires, amphibious assaults, and naval vessel boarding, search, and seizure operations.
U.S. Forces. An exercise as big as Eager Lion has a lot of components participating as well as supporting in the event. Some of the U.S. units participating included elements and personnel from the Special Operations Command Central, 5th Special Forces Group, ARCENT, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 159th Aviation Regiment (USAR), 229th Aviation Regiment, 44th Infantry BCT (ARNG), 22nd Expeditionary Weather Squadron, 98th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, U.S. Navy, and Air Force Special Tactics personnel.
Foreign Units participating. In addition to U.S. forces there were a host of foreign units taking part. The units included the British Royal Gurkha Rifles, Jordanian 61st Battalion Quick Reaction Force, Jordanian 39th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Jordanian 81st Rapid Intervention Battalion, and others.
Fly Away. One of the first events of the exercise was the ‘Fly Away’ that included the loading of U.S. and Jordanian aircraft into a Qatari c-17 airplane. Personnel from the U.S. Special Operations Aviation Detachment (SOAD) attached to U.S. Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) participated in this event. Watch a video of the event – Eager Lion 2019 – Fly Away Exercise,Aug 27, 2019, 2 mins.
Maritime Operations. Jordanian, Qatari, and French soldiers took part in a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure exercise on the Red Sea during Eager Lion 2019. They conducted a fast rope onto a ship from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and boarded via a Zodiac from the sea. Watch a 6-min long B-Roll video of the training event. (DVIDS, Sep 5, 2019).
Friendship Jump. At the end of the exercise over 250 SOF parachutists from ten nations participated in an airborne operation. These nations included Saudi Arabia, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Brunei, Cyprus, Qatar, the U.S., and Jordan. The airborne operation allowed the partner nations to plan, coordinate, and execute an operation together. Many of the parachutists were jumping with parachutes they were not accustomed to.
11th MEU. The 11th MEU was supported by the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The MEU conducted live-fire amphibious raids with amphibious assault vehicles, M777 howitzers, and light armored reconnaissance vehicles. The MEU launced from U.S. Navy amphibious ships. The Boxer ARG / 11th MEU is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. One of their missions is to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central region connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and in three strategic choke points.
Jordanian FET. Members of the all-woman Mohamed Bin Zayed Brigade / Quick Reaction Force Female Engagement Team were part of the Eager Lion 19 exercise. The JAF FET exists to engage women in situations in a way that also respects cultural norms. Some of the women role played in scenarios as either friendlies or adversaries; while other JAF FET members were participants in the exercise.
Cyber Security. The Eager Lion 19 exercise also featured a cyber security team made up of U.S. personnel and members of the Jordanian Cyber Incident Response Team. The cyber training had several objectives to include cyber security monitoring, malicious content detection, and incident response procedures. The cyber team repelled two real-world attacks on the exercise network.
“The primary goal is to build camaraderie and foster a relationship with our partner nations to further our effort in regional security and stabilitiy. the bonding and creating of friendships between the Soldiers and officers of our Allies is what made this exercise a great success.”
Lt. Col. John Hake, commander, 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.
The exercise scenario involved challenges to regional security in the Middle East at the operational level. Some of the exercise events included a Senior Leader Seminar, a combined air and land exercise, cyber threat response, maritime security operations, airborne operations, and a Global Strike Mission. Beginning in 2020, U.S. Army Central will transition from participating in Eager Lion annually to switching between Eager Lion and Bright Star in Egypt each year.
USAF Special Tactics Conduct High Angle Rope Skill with Coalition Forces During Eager Lion 2019, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, August 27, 2019. B-roll, 2 mins. This video depicts Cyprus National Guard Special Forces and Lebanese Special Forces Regiment 5 conducting high angle rope skills training with U.S. Air Force ST operators.
Urban Operations, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, August 25, 2019. In this video Cypriot and Jordanian Special Forces train in urban operations with USAF Special Tactics operator. (B-Roll, 2-mins).
Photo: A Cyprus National Guard Special Forces member, kicks off from the top of a rappel tower during partnered training with U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Operators and coalition forces during exercise Eager Lion 2019 at King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Aug. 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Campbell)