US starts war games in Jordan; 12,000 troops take part
AMMAN - The United States and its allies have started in Jordan what was described as the largest military exercises in the Middle East in 10 years, focusing on “irregular warfare,” top officers said on Tuesday.
“On Monday we began to apply the skills that we have developed over the last weeks in an irregular warfare scenario ... They will last for approximately the coming two weeks,” Major General Ken Tovo, head of the US Special Operations Forces, said in Amman.
Eager Lion 2012 “is the largest exercise held in the region in the past ten years,” he said at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in north Amman.
More than 12,000 soldiers are taking part in the war games, representing 19 countries, including Bahr-ain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.
“The message that I want to send through this exercise is that we have developed the right partners throughout the region and across the world ... insuring that we have the ability to ... meet challenges that are coming to our nations,” Tovo said.
Major-General Awni Adwan, the Jordanian army’s head of operations and training, said the military exercise “has been in the planning phase for the past three years.”
“No forces will be deployed north ... the exercise is not connected to any real world event,” Adwan said when asked if the war games were related to the ongoing violence in Jordan’s northern neighbour Syria. Some local media reports have speculated that the exercises are linked to the unrest there.