The U.S. Department of Defense has announced the commencement of the annual training exercise known as “Exercise Eager Lion 18” from April 18-26, 2018. Approximately 3,600 service members from the U.S. will work alongside their Jordanian counterparts in order to better train cooperatively for any future engagements the countries may endure together. This culminating exercise is more than just a live-fire with infantry and Special Operations — it involves a plethora of both nations’ capabilities, ranging “from long-range bomber missions to maritime security operations to a ground force attack of a fictitious adversary.” They aim to cover operations on the ground, in the air and in the water.

Last year, the exercise was primarily for U.S. and Jordanian militaries but it also involved over 20 other nations, to include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Pakistan, Italy, Belguim, Lebanon, France, Greece, Poland, Japan, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Australia and Britain. All together, they composed a force of around 7,200 troops for the training event. As they will repeat again this year (in some form), the newest addition of 2017 was the bomber strike mission, utilizing two of the Air Force’s Rockwell B-1B bombers. Centcom said that, “The aircrafts will embark on a non-stop, 35-hour, 14,000-mile flight over Jordan and will have to refuel four times while in flight.”

Jordanian soldiers along with tanks participate in “Eager Lion” in a field near the border with Saudi Arabia, in Mudawara, 174 miles south of Amman, Jordan, Monday, May 18, 2015. | AP Photo/Raad Adayleh

In 2017, Gen. Joseph Votel said then that, “One of my principal responsibilities is building relationships and building partnerships … We simply, the United States, can’t do all of this ourselves. We’ve got to leverage our partners.”

One such mechanism that refines these relationships is a coalition data-sharing network, which allows different nations to easily and efficiently share pertinent information among one another, without breaching operational security. This is especially important given the nature of modern warfare and the conflicts the United States has recently been engaged in. For example, coalition forces could very well control an area of operation that U.S. SOF are working in, under their umbrella. If the coalition group has been living and working in that area for a while, they will likely have valuable information that the SOF forces are going to need to properly execute their missions. Sharing such information is a crucial element that leads to success.

As the Middle East remains a tumultuous, volatile part of the world, the U.S. undoubtedly intends to continue to foster any relationship in the area that they deem strategically valuable.

U.S. and Jordanian forces practice a drill to free a ship seized by mock terrorists during 18-nation military exercises off Aqaba’s seaport, 330 kilometers (205 miles) south of Amman, Jordan, Monday, May 18, 2015. Some 10,000 troops took part in the two-week “Eager Lion” exercises hosted by Jordan for the fifth year. | AP Photo/Raad Adayleh

Featured image: FILE – In this Thursday, June 20, 2013 file photo, special operations forces from Jordan and the U.S. conduct a combined demonstration with commandos from Iraq, unseen, as part of Eager Lion multinational military maneuvers, at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) in Amman, Jordan. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2015 that the U.S. military will deploy a new special operations force to Iraq to step up the fight against Islamic State militants, who are determined to hold territory they have seized in Iraq and Syria. | AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File