Amman, Jordan—Always more comfortable in fatigues than in a suit and tie, King Abdullah spent 35 years in the military before he was crowned. As with many foreign royals, Abdullah was sent to Great Britain for his education. In 1980, he graduated from Sandhurst Royal Military Academy (the British Army’s West Point). As a newly commissioned officer, he spent his first years with British units, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars as a tanker.
Thereafter, he returned to Jordan and came to lead the country’s special operations forces (SOF). He managed, with significant U.S. mentorship and assistance, to reorganize Jordan’s SOF to a modern and highly competent force. After his father, King Hussein, died, he relinquished command to assume the Jordanian throne. But, as it appears, he has tried to remain militarily relevant despite his royal duties.
In a recent visit to the United Kingdom, he couldn’t resist the temptation to train with the legendary Special Air Service (SAS). Furthermore, his office released a video in which he and his son (and heir) practice combat drills—I leave it to you to judge his operator skills.
The SAS training pictures and the video are a shrewd propaganda operation. Jordan has been fighting ISIS for years. In 2015, a Jordanian fighter pilot, who had been shot down, was burned alive in a cage by the radical Islamists. The country was shocked. The media releases, thus, appear to serve a dual purpose: first, they are an attempt to rally Jordanians to their royal family — and perhaps avoid any domestic unpleasantness — and second, to warn Jordan’s enemies that the country is well led and won’t shun away from a brawl.
Jordan has long been a very staunch U.S. ally in the turbulent Middle-East. And it has been rewarded for its support and loyalty. Since the 1950s, for example, successive American administrations have provided Jordan with over $15 billion in economic and military aid.
But what is a warrior king? I would venture to say that it is someone who is in a position of leadership and has led troops into battle. The term warrior, of course, shouldn’t be limited to warfighters. Combat has many faces: a single mother fighting for her children’s future; a veteran struggling with the unseen effects of war; a teacher wrestling with bureaucracy to improve his students’ potential; a law enforcement officer who battles to keep a neighborhood safe — we could cite countless examples of people who could qualify as warriors. But for the purposes of this article, let’s limit the term to warfighters.
So, apart from King Abdullah II, who else would qualify as a warrior king? A few names come to mind: Henry V, Alexander the Great, Gustav II — there surely are countless more that I won’t include, so please comment below with your proposals.