Thousands amass in Jordan for major military exercise
May 15th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Thousands amass in Jordan for major military exercise

Editor's Note:  Barbara Starr is in Jordan covering the Eager Lion 2012 exercise.  Read her reporting here.  Watch her reports on Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (4pET-6pET).

By Barbara Starr

U.S. Department of Defense photo

It couldn't come at a more delicate time in the Middle East. No one will say it publicly, but the Eager Lion 2012 exercise - and the 12,000 multinational forces gathering in Jordan - are sending a not-so-quiet message to others in the region: they are ready for whatever comes.

From now until the end of May, one of the largest multinational military exercises the region has seen is taking place in Jordan. There are more than 19 nations, including the United States and a number of Arab and European allies, gathering to practice their combat skills, just in case.

Several U.S. military officials say while it's not the primary intention, the exercise is meant to be noticed by Syria and Iran especially. The message: even with the United States out of Iraq, and winding up the war in Afghanistan, there is a formidable U.S. presence in the region, and other countries are capable of filling in the gaps.

The U.S. Navy already is keeping two aircraft carriers in the next-door Persian Gulf region, and stepping up the presence of minesweepers in those waters. The Air Force has sent half a dozen F-22 fighters to the United Arab Emirates. The Joint Special Operations Command has conducted several deadly drone strikes against al Qaeda in Yemen.

But Eager Lion is taking it one step further. Marines will train in southern Jordan on their amphibious landing and warfare skills. But there will also be a number of the most elite U.S. Special Operations troops, training with Jordanian special forces units in counterterrorism and other assault operations.

The exercise is part of the overall U.S. military strategy to support Jordan as that country grows increasingly concerned about the unrest across its northern border with Syria. Jordanian officials are especially concerned about the potential for Syria to forces tens of thousands of its Palestinian refugees into Jordan, as well as Syrians escaping the fighting.

There is concern in a worst case scenario that the Syrian regime could lose control of some of its chemical or biological weapons stocks and they could somehow illicitly come into Jordan.

So a major portion of the exercise will also be devoted to training together on dealing with refugee flows and managing a chemical or biological weapons crisis.

But publicly, Jordanian officials say the exercise is not about their neighbor to the north.

“This has nothing to do with Syria. We respect the sovereignty of Syria. There is no tension between the Syrians and us. Our objectives are clear.” Major General. Awni el-Edwan, Chief of staff of the Jordanian Operations and Training Armed Forces. “No forces will be deployed north of the 32nd parallel. The exercise is not connected to any real world event.”

Officials quietly acknowledge all U.S. military training in the region now could be useful in the event of action against Iran. But officials strongly say Eager Lion is not aimed at either country, only at "realistic threats" in the region as one Pentagon official described it to CNN.

"Training events such as Eager Lion provide our forces with an opportunity to practice their language skills, immerse themselves in the culture, learn different tactics, techniques and procedures," Maj. Gen. Ken Tovo, head of the U.S. Special Operations Forces, said.

U.S. Special Operations Forces is expected to take on an increasing role in Middle East, both conducting drone operations in places including Yemen, but also emphasizing training with U.S. allies in the region's countries so they can take military actions when needed themselves.

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  15. zab

    "God defeat brutal regime with another nation"-Quran.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:28 am | Reply
  16. Joshua

    What isn't Israel mentioned in this article. Aren't they our greatest ally?

    May 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  17. HereIStandCockInHand

    Listen up uniformed and ignorant schmucks out there. Military exercises like this happen around the world, every year. They've been happening for YEARS. Training like this is hardly more expensive than the exercises we have CONUS (Continental US, for the uniformed), so if you're going to gripe about this, then you have to gripe about any other major exercises we have (to avoid contradicting yourself). Also, show of force / deterence is a major player in military strategy. And to the guy that said this was a skydiving vacation, you should consider yourself lucky that All-American soldier even responded to your ignorant post. All of you running your mouths should do a little self education on the facts before you post something that makes you look as dumb as you are. Everyone else, thanks for the support.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • HereIStandCockInHand

      HUUUUUUUUGE typo at the beginning, I meant uninformed, not uniformed!

      May 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  18. bill

    Thank god that it is some one else doing his insead of me, who can sit on my ass and give opinions and watch TV and have a nice bath room to go to. None of you pricks who spam things ever done anything in yur life and also ther are some who have>

    May 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • James

      Exactly, Thank you

      May 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • james r.

      Now we know! where some of those U.S. troops that were "pulled-out?" of Iraq have gone?, "not home!" as promised by Obama. Oh bye the way 4,000 U.S. service-persons still remain in Iraq.,under the G.W. Bush plan there would have not been a single one left there. War in Syria will make Iraq look like a day at the beach!

      May 16, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  19. WhackyWaco

    The US just can't stay out of war. Economy depends on US being at war.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • cedaly1968

      We tried staying out of war, it ended at Pearl Harbor. The price of freedom is an eternal vigilance. Just because it is "over there" does not mean it won't come here as evidenced by the attacks on September 11.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Reply
      • 2cents4free

        In regards to 9/11 what was happening "over there" had a lot to do with policies "over here"

        May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  20. magneticink

    Ok, so you're saying that while Syrian civilians are getting shelled next door, Fritz and his men will be comparing their calibers and cocks?

    May 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  21. Ivanhoe

    For more insight into what is going on in the Middle East - read the international novel - king of Bat'ha - and the sequel due out by summer 2012 - Tales from the East: Return of Ivanhoe.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  22. freedomdem

    ahh the usa war monger "eager lion" is eager for war. shocker.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply
    • jbmar1312

      You do understand that it is to late to train after the event happens. Just like rescue ops, hazmat ops, etc. You really should come out of the cave you live in and face the real world that has really bad people. And yes, we are the good guys for better or worse.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • sheesh

      You do know that this same training exercise occurs every year right? Nothing special about it. Training is needed, or woul you prefer your military to enter any future conflict untrained?

      May 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  23. nk

    The "eager lion" what messege does that send?

    More of our tax dollars being spent by the miltary on skydiving vacations.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • DL

      Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. Nice for you to be one of those ignorant peaceful men eh? Why don't you join and find out what kind of "vacation" it is?

      May 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Reply
      • bill

        A have to agree with you. Let the wars be some were else. not here in the United States.

        May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • 82nd

      So I'm assuming you have gone to Airborne School in the past because you think it's a vacation to train right? I have and you are out of line. You need to train constantly to be perfect when needed, if not you die. Be thankful real men unlike yourself take that challenge seriously. May you sleep well tonight and eat McDonald's for dinner you POS

      May 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
      • sawolf

        Thanks for your service.

        May 16, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • sheesh

      Grow up and don't open your mouth until you know what you are talking about!

      May 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
    • Drea

      Yeah...cuz my fiance is over there jumping out of planes for fun. He's over there living in crappy situations so that he can play around.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  24. JC

    "...qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum." -Vegetius

    May 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  25. Scott

    Special note to the small minded hippies. Note the mention of chemical and biological weapons. It was widely published, then silented, that many tractor trailers were leaving suspected Iraqi bases in the 2 weeks before the Iraq War and cross the border with Syria, with the help of the Russians. Then, surprisingly, the Russians started bringing pressure to bear on Iran about nukes, and we stopped investigating about the dirty deals under the oil for food program as we grabbed docuuments shortly after invasion. There is your conspiracy and there are your WMD's. Just like in the first Gulf war when Saddam flew his air force to Iran. Except, Syria is not a signatory to chemical and biological bans.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  26. some guy

    Military Excercises are usual but each excercise has a specific contingency scenario. And if the scenario is very similar to what is happening in the neighborhood, then a simple excercise can be projected as a show of force to warn or deter a specific and potential enemy. So its not the event but what is being done in the event that counts and the more the media is informed about the scenario the more show of force/ warnings the training armies want to project. ..... This is just a simple laymans opinion.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  27. Lawja

    Is Israeal participating in this exercise?

    May 15, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • phishuh

      the arab countries participating would NEVER permit israel to participate.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  28. Urduny

    how come only the Jordanian soldiers are not wearing helmets?

    May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply
  29. Cocopuf

    Sooner or later, they should also plan on practicing for a nuclear disaster too.

    May 15, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
  30. skeiron

    Business as usual, military exercises are conducted several times a year.
    Only a couple of weeks ago there was Exercise Joint Warrior, in March there was Exercise Cold Response and so on.

    May 15, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply
    • Cocopuf

      These training exercises are in prep for possible international intervention when things get out of hand. Also, it is an excellent way to train and integrate forces with other nations for common goals. Better equipped, trained, and lower cost.

      May 15, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  31. aroundtheblock

    the exercise has been planned for about 3 years now, there was an eager lion 2011. it's nothing but another exercise the military is putting on, don't know what the big fuss is about.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply
    • Cocopuf

      Hopefully, there won't be a need for a bigger fuss, as you say ... 🙂

      May 15, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  32. fromthefourthcorner

    Anyone know when this exercise was planned? Just wondering...

    May 15, 2012 at 3:23 am | Reply
    • Abby

      Don't know when but it was surely planned in Israel...

      May 15, 2012 at 6:39 am | Reply
      • Sensationalist

        Oh yes. The Zionists have certainly planned this dastardly event! Which they are not a part of... Well shoot.

        May 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
      • Cocopuf

        ... when are you going to grow up? When it is too late for you? 🙂

        May 15, 2012 at 8:57 am |
      • sheesh

        Ummmmmm, yeah, right! Here is your tin foil hat, you dropped it with your meds!

        May 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • sawolf

        So, you have an Intel Billet?

        May 16, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Drea

      Theyve been going on since the 1970's.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:15 am | Reply

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