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The US and Jordan have kicked off the annual “Eager Lion” military exercises with some 7,400 troops from over 20 nations.
The drills are aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two nations in the face of terrorism threats in the region, US and Jordanian officials said Sunday.
“Joint efforts and coordination and the exchange of expertise… are needed at the time when the region is facing the threat of terrorism,” said Jordanian Brigadier General Khalid al-Shara, who commands the exercises.
Border security, cyber defense, and “command and control” mission were some of the operations included in the maneuvers.
US Major General Bill Hickman, deputy commanding general for the American army in the region, said this year’s drills were “the largest and most complex to date.”
The highlight of this year’s drills would be “for the first time ever a global strike mission” carried out by “two US Air Force B-1B bomber aircraft,” the general added.
Britain, Japan, Kenya and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that have sent troops to Jordan. Overall, the exercises feature forces from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf region.
Around 6,000 military personnel took part in last year’s drills. This is the seventh Eager Lion, with the first one launched in 2011.
Amman is one of the major recipients of Washington’s financial and military aid. In 2015, the White House announced that it would raise the overall assistance to Jordan from $660 million to $1 billion annually for a two-year period that ends in 2017.
The Arab monarchy is a member of the US-led military campaign bombing purported Daesh (ISIL) positions in Iraq and Syria.
It has also helped the CIA and the Pentagon train militant groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Jordan King, US homeland security secretary meet
The drills began a day after Jordan’s King Abdullah met with US Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly in Amman to discuss the “strategic partnership” between the two countries.
In a visit to the White House in early April, Abduallh told President Donald Trump that he would like to see the military cooperation expand.