Jordan, US launch major military exercises

Jordanian soldiers shake hands with a US troop during Eager Lion in May 2016 [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

Jordan and the United States kicked off annual military exercises on Sunday known as Eager Lion with about 7,400 troops from more than 20 nations taking part.


US and Jordanian officials said the manoeuvres would include border security, cyber-defence, and "command and control" exercises to bolster coordination in response to threats including "terrorism".

"Joint efforts and coordination and the exchange of expertise ... are needed at the time when the region is facing the threat of terrorism," Jordanian Brigadier-General Khalid al-Shara, who will head the exercises, told reporters.

US Major-General Bill Hickman, deputy commanding officer for the American army in the region, said this year's Eager Lion exercises - the seventh so far - are "the largest and most complex to date".

The highlight of this year's war games, he said, will be that "for the first time ever a global strike mission" will be conducted by "two US Air Force B-1B bomber aircraft" - a long-range multi-mission bomber.

A statement by the Jordanian army said troops from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Gulf region are taking part in the exercises, which run until May 18, including from Britain, Japan, Kenya and Saudi Arabia.

About 6,000 troops from Jordan and the US took part in last year's exercises, a joint operation first launched in 2011.

Jordan is a key partner in the US-led coalition battling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Two years ago, the United States announced its intention to increase overall US assistance to Jordan from $660m to $1bn annually for the 2015-2017 period.

Ki Monique
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