News: U.S. Marines, Jordanian leaders gather to prepare for Eager Lion 12
Story by 2nd Lt. Joshua Larson
JABAL PETRA, Jordan – Leaders for both the Jordanian Armed Forces and U.S. Marine Corps joined together in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, May 8, to discuss military training operations in preparation for Exercise Eager Lion 12.
The event allowed top leadership from U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, the Combined Forces Land Component Command of the exercise, to gather and discuss details with their Jordanian counterparts.
Among the military leaders present were those from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Jordan’s 40th Mechanized Brigade.
Eager Lion 12, which is scheduled throughout the month of May, consists of approximately 11,000 personnel from 19 countries and has been in the planning process for three years. However, this was the first time key leaders executing actions on the ground were able to sit together, face-to-face, and discuss event details.
Any coalition exercise requires a personal meeting among leaders to break through any existing language or cultural barriers, said Col. Mitch McCarthy, the assistant chief of staff and operations officer for CFLCC.
“A face-to-face meeting is essential before any operation. That way, everyone involved understands expectations and it ensures a smooth execution phase,” he said.
Eager Lion is designed to portray realistic, modern-day scenarios. Fittingly, the 24th MEU’s ground combat element, the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, hosted the operation order near its command post in the middle of the unembellished Jordanian desert.
The briefing room was a simple medium-sized tent placed atop the desert floor. Key individuals settled into a handful of folding chairs while the supporting cast stood aside, watching one of the tent’s window flaps that doubled as an expedient projector screen.
McCarthy, along with several of CFLCC’s other staff members, ran through the phases of the exercise, pausing along the way to confer about movements and personnel matters during upcoming joint and multilateral events. There was ample consideration for questions, comments and, of course, translation for all involved as both American and Jordanian leaders built on existing relationships.
Although the exercise didn’t officially start until May 15, 24th MEU Marines got together with members of the Jordanian Armed Forces to start cross training prior to the official start of the exercises scenario, said Lt. Col. David Sosa, commanding officer of the BLT.
Sosa’s Jordanian counterpart, Lt. Col. Saif F. Alfanek, commander of Jordan’s 40th Mechanized Brigade, led the contingent of Jordanian officers during the brief and sat shoulder-to-shoulder with Sosa throughout.
“Lt. Col. Alfanek and I have coordination meetings every day. We eat together and drink tea together, and it’s a pleasure to engage with such a professional officer,” Sosa said. “We are learning a lot from each other, but the most important learning is happening between our Marines and his soldiers.”
Eager Lion 12 is designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships of partner nations through a joint, multinational approach to meet current and future complex national security challenges.
This is the second major exercise for the 24th MEU since deploying in March with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group on a regularly-scheduled eight-month deployment.