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About 6,000 U.S. troops headed to Jordan for military exercise

May. 20, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) sail in formation June 16 during Exercise Eager Lion 2013. About 6,000 U.S. troops will take part in this year's Eager Lion exercise in Jordan from May 25 to June 8.
Ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) sail in formation June 16 during Exercise Eager Lion 2013. About 6,000 U.S. troops will take part in this year's Eager Lion exercise in Jordan from May 25 to June 8. (MCS2 Corbin J. Shea / Navy)
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Roughly 6,000 U.S. troops will take part in this year’s “Eager Lion” exercise in Jordan from May 25 to June 8, a Defense Department spokesman said.

Eager Lion involves a total of more than 12,500 troops from more than 20 countries, Cmdr. William Speaks told Military Times on Tuesday. The major U.S. units taking part include the Army’s 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Armored Division; the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade; elements of the Navy’s Task Force 51/59; and the 407th Air Expeditionary Group.

The U.S. troops taking part in the exercise will not stay in Jordan for military operations in the region, said Army Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. Last year, the U.S. military left Patriot missiles and F-16 fighters in Jordan to counter potential threats from the civil war in neighboring Syria, but Taylor said there are no such plans this year.

This year’s exercise involves scenarios ranging from training for a humanitarian assistance to practicing integrated air and missile defense, Taylor told Military Times on Tuesday.

Since the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq and the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, al-Qaida has seized a considerable amount of territory in both countries. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a particularly virulent al-Qaida affiliate that reportedly has thousands of foreign fighters and has outgunned the Iraqi military.

The Eager Lion training scenarios this year are not geared toward combating ISIL, Taylor said.

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