Wednesday, May 9, 2012

US says 12,000 troops take part in Jordan war games

A soldier takes part in war games in the Jordanian desert near Qatrana

The US military said on Wednesday that 12,000 soldiers from 17 countries are taking part in this month's military exercises in Jordan, seeking to enhance their abilities to meet "security challenges."

"The tactical execution of Eager Lion 2012 exercise will officially start on May 15," Major Robert Bockholt, public affairs officer at Special Operations Command Central, told AFP.

"Eager Lion is an annual, multi-national exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships through a joint, whole-of-government, multinational approach integrating all instruments of national power to meet current and future complex national security challenges."

Bockholt did not say name the countries, which include US ally Jordan.

"We acknowledge the right of each participating country to announce their participation in the exercise on their own terms," he said.

In April, the US Department of Defence said the exercise would be held from May 7 to May 28.

Bockholt said participants were gathering in Jordan from Monday to prepare for the land, sea and air exercise, which will be held in "various training locations."

"In all, there are more than 12,000 service members participating in the exercise," he said.

Some local media reports have speculated that the war games are linked to the unrest in neighbouring Syria, saying the troops seek to secure Jordan's border.

"Execution of Eager Lion 2012 is not connected to any real-world event. It has nothing to do with Syria. It is just a coincidence," Bockholt said.

The war games come as Jordan's Special Operations Forces Exhibition is under way, displaying new technologies by defence manufacturers around the world.

Jordan is a major beneficiary of US military and economic aid, with Washington granting Amman $2.4 billion (1.85 billion euros) in the past five years, according to official figures.

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