Why Is Jordan so Eager to Suck Up to the Pentagon?

When I wrote about the Jordan-based Eager Lion exercise in 2012, I pointed out that it had supplanted Bright Star, the U.S.-Egypt nobody-here-but-us-nice-guys exercise, as the largest in the Middle East. The press releases that used to describe that annual strokeathon were boilerplate: most important U.S.-ally in the Middle East (!), promoting cooperation (!), second largest recipient of U.S. arms (behind you know who) so they might as well know how to use those arms.


Now there’s pretty pictures of a military “exercise” in Jordan – “all women!” – but it wasn’t that long ago that the Hashemite Kingdom denied that it was even hosting or cooperating with U.S. forces. Before the 2003 Iraq war, for example, it even publicly claimed that no U.S. forces or bases were in the country even though a gigantic Joint Task Force West launched much of the overall offensive against Saddam Hussein from Jordanian soil. Jordan is the latest favorite for opening its doors to the American war machine (even supplanting Kuwait). But it should be noted that operations from Jordan against ISIS are not just “Jordanian” forces but American and others as well, from secret bases. Even the UAE flies aircraft from Jordan against ISIS; one big happy military family.

What do those striking pictures on Foxtrot Alpha really mean? Well let’s go back to 2003. The Turkish parliament, in a courageous and unpopular act, voted – voted! – not to allow U.S. forces to launch military attacks against Iraq. By that time though, secret deals had already been cut with Jordan so the tactical loss was minor. Beyond taking down Saddam though, the power of democracy and international opinion was diminished by a U.S. hunger for war. I can’t give you chapter and verse of what Turkey might have lost behind the scenes by standing up to the Bush administration, but what the planet lost was an opportunity to hear some of those in the very region saying no. And for the future, the message is clear: Why say no to war if our voice isn’t going to be heard anyhow?


And as for the former bright star of the American military in the Middle East: Egypt? Look what happened to them. And for us: billions of tax dollars down the drain, and who knows how many hours, that could have been spent pushing the government to embrace something, anything, besides an American tank. Hurray for cooperation though– Jordan can host the forces “fighting” the world war all around it in the future, oblivious to the short-sighted decisions made in secret today. Foxtrot Alpha will bring you the pretty pictures.

This All Female C-17 Crew Gets It Done During Exercise Eager Lion

An all female USAF C-17A Globemaster III crew from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron participated in Exercise Eager Lion 2015. All-female crews are not an unheard of thing within America’s air forces, but fielding one during a Middle East exercise stands in stark contrast to how many countries in the region treat their female citizens.

Eager Lion is a annual large-scale training event held in Jordan that includes over 10,000 personnel from 19 countries. Training scenarios from air defense to disaster relief are incorporated into the exercise, all of which are meant to challenge participants and increase cooperation and understanding between participating military units.

This year’s Eager Lion occurs under the shadow of ISIS. Just to Jordan’s north, a civil war rages in Syria, while Operation Inherent Resolve continues to pound ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. Many of these missions into Syria are being flown by Jordanian forces, meaning an actual air war is occurring around the exercise itself. All these factors, along with heightened tensions throughout the entire Middle East, makes this year’s exercise even more relevant and realistic than in the past.

Countries that are participating in this year’s Eager Lion include Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Additionally, NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps will also take part in the exercise.

Photos via USAF



Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com

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