AL QUWEIRA, Jordan --
Marines and sailors assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in a combined arms live-fire exercise in conjunction with members of the Jordanian Armed Forces June 19, 2013. The CALFEX was the final demonstration concluding Exercise Eager Lion 2013, an exercise planned for over a year, June 20, 2013.
Many Jordanian distinguished visitors, as well as more than 100 media gathered to view the showcasing of the two armed forces abilities and cohesion.
“[CALFEX] is a demonstration of the combined arms capabilities of both the ground and air forces of the Exercise Eager Lion force,” said Brig. Gen. Gregg P. Olson, Marine Corps Forces Central Command Forward commanding general. “We have been training together for a couple of weeks, from the squad level all the way up to the brigade level.”
The exercise began as faint whistles turned into concussive explosions as artillery and mortars began their indirect-fire. Next, U.S Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers screeched across the sky, dropping live-ordnance. They were followed by AH-1 Super Cobras from both militaries displaying their firepower and giving an impressive effect as they banked, releasing flares. The ground side assault came next as M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks and JAF Challengers fired volleys from their 120 mm main guns with .50 caliber rounds to follow. Once the tanks started to encroach on the target amphibious assault vehicles followed which led to troops unloading and closing in on the objective. To finish off the exercise, red smoke targeted a simulated casualty which was loaded onto a UH-1N Huey and flown to safety.
“This was a lot of combat power to bring to bear,” said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer and a Jarrettsville, Maryland, native. “That is what our focus has been on these last 12 days.”
St. Clair said this exercise, as well as all exercises performed during 26th MEU’s 5th Fleet deployment, strengthened the ties between U.S. and Jordan, and helped the nations continue to share and practice tactics, techniques and procedures.
“We have done exercises in Oman and we have done exercises in Qatar, and this was the same type of exercise demonstrating how the U.S. can integrate its combat power with its partner nations [to demonstrate a] very capable force,” said St. Clair.
Olson stressed that the significance of Eager Lion is to give great opportunity for U.S. and Jordan forces to partner together in really positive training areas.
“Building partnership capacity and executing safe, but realistic training, I think, [is] our message for Eager Lion,” said Olson. “…We are more than willing to train with our Jordanian partners to build their partner capacity, to build our partner capacity, and to do so on some excellent facilities in a live-fire environment. The Jordanians and [U.S. military members] have a strong friendship. We have a strong military affiliation for each other, and it is a pleasure to train with this excellent partner.”
With the conclusion of the exercise, Marines and sailors of the 26th MEU are making their way back to the ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group where they will return back to sea, continuing their 2013 deployment in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.