Brig. Gen. James D. Craig, Special Operations Command Central deputy commanding general joins Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Zboon, CJSOTF commander for mansaf, a traditional dish in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, May 21. Gen. Craig visited U.S. and Jordanian Special Operations Forces during Exercise Eager Lion 2016, a bi-lateral exercise between the Jordanian Armed Forces and the U.S. Military designed to strengthen relationships and interoperability between partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Tiffany M. Collins/Released)

SOF Builds Relationships for Tomorrow’s Battles

AMMAN, Jordan (Maj Tiffany Hall) — The necessity for this bond [between the U.S. and Jordan] forged over 60 years ago has never been more evident and vital than in today’s unconventional fight against daesh.

This year’s Exercise Eager Lion 2016 saw its originators focusing internally on one another. Although, in its sixth iteration, this is only the second time this exercise was conducted exclusively between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the United States, with the 2011 inaugural exercise being the first. Currently the largest exercise conducted in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, last year’s roster saw its participation grow to over 18 countries and 10,000 personnel.

“Core infiltration methods of special operations is the ability to train with our Jordanian partners on infiltration techniques, to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures and to present and pin Airborne wings on one-another further cements the relationships we’ve built over the past six years while conducting Exercise Eager Lion,” said Col. Derek Lipson, CJSOTF deputy commander. This year’s exercise provides excellent opportunities to incorporate specific training needs to increase the real-world proficiency and effectiveness of both U.S. and Jordanian SOF personnel.

The first SOF Truth focuses on the critical relevance of people and relationships, no one knows this better than the global SOF community and therefore took full advantage of this year’s opportunity to solidify their alliances with one another. This began before the exercise officially kicked off, as they built their camps to accommodate personnel from both nations. Lipson says “the opportunity to live and eat with partners makes the training more effective and builds relationships that last a lifetime.”

“Living with your Jordanian counterparts allows us to absorb more of their culture and language. Take that to heart; that trust and friendship will make a difference in the future,” stated Craig. With the help of our gracious hosts, U.S. personnel easily immersed into the culture, as they’ve made a tradition of welcoming us with an elaborate meal, which always includes mansaf and this year was no exception. Although delicious, Dima Al Sharif, a popular Food Artisan reminds us that “Mansaf to the Jordanians is more than just food to fill your stomach, and more of a piece of History, Culture and lifestyle – Mansaf in Jordan is a Social Tradition.”

When asked why training events such as Eager Lion were important, Lipson said, “Conducting Exercise Eager Lion in a bi-lateral setting is an opportunity to become closer to our Jordanian partners. Whether in future exercises or real-world operations, we’ll be much more effective at combatting our common enemies.”

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