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.