JORDAN -- Approximately 500 U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed Exercise Eager Lion 2015, culminating with a multilateral combined-arms live-fire event May 18, 2015, in Jordan.
Eager Lion is an annual U.S. multinational exercise with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations. Beginning May 5, more than a dozen countries participated in the exercise. The Marines, deployed in support of the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, came from the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) and spent most of their time with the Jordanian armed forces and Italian Marines.
“The training with the Jordanians and Italian Marines has been great,” said 1st Lt. Jesse F. Moyles, a Green River, Wyoming native, and the executive officer for Company K, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th MEU. “We got a lot of interoperability training with the Jordanians and we worked on small-unit skills with the Italians.”
The Marines conducted a variety of simulated operations during Eager Lion with the Jordanians and Italians. They performed patrol base operations, maneuver training with tanks and Assault Amphibious Vehicles, and squad and company tactics. They also fired every weapon in the mechanized company during a variety of small-arms marksmanship and crew-served weapons ranges.
Section and platoon level training served as steps that led to company-sized attacks, culminating in the final combined-arms live-fire event, which was observed by several notable Americans, including U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and Alice Wells, the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan.
The simulated event brought all the cards to the table, and the battlefield was prepped by U.S. and foreign military capabilities, including a pair of U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers, Jordanian F-16 Fighting Falcons and AH-1 Cobras. The Marines then performed the mechanized assault alongside their Jordanian and Italian counterparts, using the full complement of assets they debarked from the Fort McHenry.
“It is important to train with other countries because it gives us valuable experience in partnering and overall makes the U.S. Marines well-rounded after seeing how different countries conduct business,” said Moyles.
Other 24th MEU units conducted bilateral training as well throughout the month. The Maritime Raid Force, a contingent of Marines sourced from Force Reconnaissance Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, conducted visit, board, search and seizure training with the Royal Jordanian Navy. The two groups covered the basics of “hook and climb”—the methods used to physically board one vessel at sea from another. They also practiced close-quarters combat, tactical combat casualty care, and planning considerations. Eventually, they conducted a full-scale simulated VBSS in which the Jordanians took control of a vessel at sea and returned it to port.
"We’re extremely grateful to the Royal Jordanian Navy for their hospitality and generosity as we enjoyed their culture through this cooperative training event,” said Gunnery Sgt. Dan Bishop, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the training and a platoon sergeant with the 24th MEU’s Maritime Raid Force. "The relationship we developed with the Jordanians provides a solid foundation for years of future mutual support."
The 24th MEU’s Consequence Management team was also ashore and spent their time working on bolstering response efforts surrounding potential chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear defense scenarios.
Company K's M1A1 Main Battle Tanks and AAVs worked mostly with Jordanian M60 Phoenix Main Battle Tanks and armored personnel carriers.
“We used a ‘crawl, walk, run’ method, and when we started to come together it really went smooth,” said Sgt. Derin J. Nicely, an assistant section leader for the Assault Amphibious Vehicle platoon. “It was definitely varsity level training. These are stand-up guys—professional and polite and I would work with these guys any day. This experience really made the deployment for me.”
The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which includes the USS Iwo Jima and USS New York in addition to the Fort McHenry. They are deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.