US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) arrived in Aqaba, Jordan on Sunday, April 15, ahead of the start of the joint US-Jordanian exercise Eager Lion 2018.
The two ships arrived with components of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit for an exercise which will see 1,500 sailors and 1,800 embarked marines improve their collective ability to plan and project presence in a coalition environment over the next 11 days.
“We are excited and honored to work side-by-side with the Jordanian Armed Forces as we contribute an investment to a critical strategic partnership between two allies who share common regional security goals,” said Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, commanding officer, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Eager Lion focuses on increasing US-Jordanian security and warfighting capabilities, allowing the two nations to better address common threats to regional security. As part of the exercise, Marines from the 26th MEU will take part in an embassy reinforcement and noncombatant evacuation operation, and conduct bilateral sustainment training in a variety of combat skillsets.
“Eager Lion allows us to practice key mission essential tasks that span the range of military operations to resolve conflict and conduct combat operations against an enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible,” Sullivan said. “This exercise will allow us to demonstrate how we can project combat power across great distances and sustain those forces from amphibious shipping. When it comes to crisis response, the ARG/MEU team is the force of choice – when called upon, we will be ready.”
Iwo Jima and Oak Hill sailors will utilize landing craft to move cargo and supplies to and from the amphibious ships, while also honing their ability to maintain a secure maritime environment with a visit, board, search and seizure drill.
“We are looking forward to working with our Jordanian partners. This exercise provides valuable training opportunities that enhance our ability to operate as a team and shows our commitment to each other and security in the region,” said Capt. Jack Killman, commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group embarks the 26th MEU and includes Iwo Jima, the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Oak Hill, Fleet Surgical Team 4 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of commander, PHIBRON 4.