Amman (May 11) - A senior US military trainer has described as “excellent” the current Eager Lion multinational military exercise taking place in Jordan which he considered “the premier exercise in the region.”
U.S. Major General Rick B. Mattson, Director of Exercises and Training, discussed Operation Eager Lion 2015 in an exclusive interview with Radio Balad Monday.
Among the skill sets being worked on in this year’s operation are close-air support, air-land integration, vehicle-born I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices placed in vehicles) and chemical-type threats, according to Mattson.
Following the execution of the captured Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh at the hands of Daesh (ISIS), the issue of combat search and rescue became vital.
Mattson offered his condolences regarding what he called the “tragic” death of al-Kasasbeh, and said that it “highlights that combat search and rescue missions are absolutely critical to our operation.”
In Mattson’s view, Eager Lion offers a unique opportunity for combat search and rescue training due to the fact that so many nations, along with their varied resources, are involved in the mission.
“As a fighter pilot,” two star Mattson said, “I know that if I were to go down every nation that is a part of this would be dedicating all of its efforts towards my recovery. Each one of our nations brings something to the plate,” said Mattson. “We all have something very unique and something to contribute. We are so much stronger as a group, as a partner force, than we are separate.”
The highlight of this year’s mission will be when a B-52 bomber makes the continuous 35-hour trip from the United States to Jordan, undergoing several in-air refuelings along the way, to carry out a bombing exercise before returning to the U.S. The B-52 will drop 27, 500 lb bombs, on the range, making two passes as it does so.
The range of a B-52 bomber, without refueling, is about four times that of an F-16. The B-52 aircraft is also able to carry a range of defensive and offensive equipment including ballistic and cruise missiles that can be launched from hundreds of miles away from their targets, according to the manufacture of the aircraft Boeing.
“When you have a 35-hour capability to travel far distances, that just presents more options,” said Mattson. “It is a great opportunity for those on the ground as well as those in the air to be able to integrate this piece.”
In the interview, Mattson discussed the larger purpose of the operation, the specific skill sets being addressed in the training exercise, and some of the rumors regarding movements of military personnel and equipment
Eager Lion is a major, multinational exercise designed to strengthen relationships between participating military forces, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability. 18 international partners, and about 10,000 military personnel, are involved in this year’s operation.
During the planning process for the annual operation, which begins 12 to 18 months in advance, participating nations are able to inject their input as to what skills they want to address during the exercise. Mattson said that this year both conventional and unconventional threats were priorities. The annual operation began in 2011.
In response to rumors, Major General Mattson firmly denied that any equipment or personnel brought to Jordan for the Eager Lion operation would be left behind after the completion of the mission. He also denied any involvement in the mission by Syrian opposition forces.
The 18 countries that are taking part in operation Eager Lion are Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Lebanon, Iraq, Britain, France, Italy, Pakistan, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Poland, Australia, Jordan and representatives of NATO ground forces, sea and air.
للقراءة بالعربيّة الرجاء