By Ens. Seth Koenig, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet
BU2 Ryan Fenton, assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.2, uses a dumpy level to check the elevation of the floor framing being constructed for a Southwest Asia (SWA) hut, Aqaba, Jordan, during Exercise Eager Lion 2015, May 8. Photo by MC2 Steve Hill
For the Seabees of Commander, Task Force Five Six (CTF-56), the construction project fulfilled a role in an ongoing multinational training exercise. But even though the exercise scenario was not real, the finished product will be a lasting symbol of the U.S.-Jordanian partnership on display during Exercise Eager Lion 2015, Aqaba, Jordan, in May.
“Not only is it great training for us, but our Jordanian partners get a lot from it as well,” said Builder 3rd Class Nolan LeMaster, CTF-56.
Eager Lion is a recurring, multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability. During Eager Lion 2015, Seabees constructed a wood-framed 16-by-32-foot Southwest Asia (SWA) hut on a small plot of land on the Royal Jordanian Naval Base in less than one week. Under the pretense of the Eager Lion training scenario, the Seabees were given a tight deadline to prop up an emergency medical facility after faux enemies destroyed a clinic in the city nearby.
In the real world, CTF-56 will leave the structure behind for their Jordanian allies, who could decide to use it for training, berthing or office space. Another lasting outcome of the build, the Seabees say, will be the personal experiences and relationships they take away. Between three and four Jordanian military personnel have joined the team of seven Navy Construction Battalion (NCF) workers each day on the project site. As the Seabees and their host Jordanian partners have come to realize, military exercises such as Eager Lion build trust, strengthen partnerships and enhance the capabilities of participating countries.
BU2 Lindsey Pfallen, assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.2, reviews plans for for an expeditionary shelter, Aqaba, Jordan, May 2, in preparation for Exercise Eager Lion 2015. Photo by MC2 Steve Hill
Led by Jordan and the U.S., Eager Lion also involves another 16 international participants, including many from the Middle East: Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Approximately 10,000 total international military personnel were scheduled to take part in Eager Lion, which spanned several different sites in the host country of Jordan and a multitude of joint combined training activities.
“I think it’s a great exercise overall, because there are so many different countries involved – not just the Jordanians and the U.S.” Crew leader Builder 2nd Class Bryan Fenton, CTF-56, said the Jordanian workers bring different and valuable perspectives to the construction project. “If [their methods] work better and faster – and are still up to code – we’ll do it their way,” Fenton said. The SWA hut is not the only project keeping the CTF-56 Seabees busy during Eager Lion 2015.
BUC Jeremy Johnson, assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.2, constructs building support beams at Camp Badger near the Royal Jordanian Naval Base in Aqaba in preparation for Exercise Eager Lion 2015, May 2. Photo by MC2 Arthurgwain L. Marquez
The Navy builders put up a facility for a stable of exercise role players to work out of, installed cellphone and key container boxes at nearby Camp Badger and pitched in standing watches to relieve camp security forces. Eager Lion 2015 consists of a series of simulated scenarios to facilitate a coordinated, partnered military response to conventional and unconventional threats. The scenarios include border security, command and control, cyber defense and battle space management. Of 10,000 military personnel participating in the exercise, approximately 5,000 are from the U.S., representing U.S. Central Command headquarters and its air, land, maritime and special operations components.