Soldiers Participate in Eager Lion 2019, Joint Exercise

JORDAN — A Jordanian soldier, middle, and two U.S. infantry Soldiers with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, provide lookout and security during a joint situational training exercise in Jordan Sept. 2, 2019, in support of Eager Lion 2019. Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command’s largest and most complex exercise, was an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. (Photo by Sgt. Liane Hatch)

By Sgt. Liane Hatch, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division

JORDAN —Facing west from the top of “Hill 101,” U.S. and Jordanian military leaders had front row seats as U.S. Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rolled onto a simulated battlefield where they demonstrated their lethality and interoperability with partner nations during the final, culminating live-fire exercise at Eager Lion 2019.

Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command’s largest and most complex exercise, brought partnering nations together Aug. 25, 2019, to Sept. 5, 2019, to integrate forces in a multilateral environment. The troops were able to operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. More than 8,000 military personnel from land, marine and air forces across 29 nations participated in the exercise.

Approximately 500 U.S. Soldiers from six of the seven battalions of the “Iron” Brigade spent a month in Jordan supporting the exercise where they performed a wide variety of roles to ensure mission success. The brigade is currently deployed, operating out of Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

“Eager Lion has allowed us to conduct our own (mission-essential task list) training to ensure that we remain ready now and can contribute to any contingency worldwide, but has also provided the unique opportunity to work with multinational partners to build up our understanding of each other, develop joint planning techniques, understand each other’s capabilities and learn how to complement each other to achieve common goals,” said Lt. Col. Jon Kluck, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd ABCT, and commander of “Task Force Shellbacks,” a 3rd ABCT contingency that supported Eager Lion.

The first wave of Soldiers arrived to Jordan in late July and began establishing a logistics support area (LSA) near the training area. From there, Soldiers moved out to a nearby Jordanian training area Aug. 25 — the first official day of the exercise — where they established tactical operation centers and tactical assembly areas in order to provide support and participate as the U.S. Army’s main ground-fighting element.

The next day, 3rd ABCT Soldiers took to the ranges to conduct U.S.-only day and night live-fire exercises, using artillery, armor, engineer and infantry assets. While the brigade’s combat arms contingencies operated on the range, it also employed several of its support elements, who fed troops, facilitated communication and maintained vehicles and equipment among other tasks.

In addition to the multiple live-fire exercises during the first week, 3rd ABCT Soldiers were also part of a multinational situational training exercise (STX), in which they performed military operations in an urban terrain. Infantry Soldiers worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Jordan armed forces soldiers after an initial air assault on the village by British and Jordanian quick reaction forces (QRF). Canadian forces also supported the STX event, working with soldiers on the Jordanian female engagement team.

Soldiers responded positively to the opportunities and challenges that came with partnership training during STX and live fires as they learned the value of interoperability.

After conducting the STX, Staff Sgt. Bryan Nuckols, squad leader with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd ABCT, said the training was helpful to him and his Soldiers.

“Some of their tactics are different from ours …,” he said. “If we can do some more cross talk together, more training together, we can be on one sheet of music, so when we do fight together, it’s nothing new.”

Iron Brigade Soldiers also used their time in the field to conduct unit-level training, on tasks from entering and clearing a room to preparation and detonation of Bangalore torpedoes. When possible, some units invited multinational counterparts to participate in unit-level training, like when soldiers from Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg., medics for training on treating battlefield trauma.

“Trauma does not discriminate and does not change, no matter where in the world you serve,” said Sgt. 1st Class Heidi Noll, platoon sergeant for the medics of 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT. “The response to partner nation training was phenomenal. Each nation asked each other questions and were able to show each other the tricks of the trade. There was a genuine interest in each other’s cultures.”

While Eager Lion 2019 was much larger than 3rd ABCT’s involvement and included command post exercises, Special Forces training and air and marine operations, the Iron Brigade represented the largest element of on-ground warfighters, and the final multinational combined-arms live-fire exercise was its time to shine.

“Everything we did was meant to lead up to the final live-fire event,” said Maj. Chris Williams, executive officer, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT. “The whole thing was situated so that when you watched the exercise, you were watching us (and) our partners moving onto the battlefield and operating together.”

To kick off the final event, British and Jordanian QRF teams once again conducted an air assault operation. Shortly after the air assault, 3rd ABCT, Jordanian and Qatari forces joined in with a combination of artillery and small arms fire.

This sequence of events enabled U.S. and Jordanian engineers to conduct a simultaneous breach using mine clearing line charges. Once the breach was open, both U.S. and Jordanian tank and mechanized crews flowed through into a defensive position where they culminated with four companies on line and two artillery batteries, demonstrating our joint capabilities to defend the region. The event ended with a U.S. Air Force B-52 flyover demonstration.

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