A Marine colonel took us behind the scenes of the intense annual military drills where US troops train in Jordan amid explosions and gunfire

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines with Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team — Central Command and Jordanian 77th Marines Battalion pose together after conducting riot control measures training during exercise Eager Lion 2018, April 18, 2018.

US and Jordanian soldiers are currently in the middle of the annual Eager Lion training exercise, an 11-day exercise involving more than 1,500 US sailors and 1,800 US Marines.

The troops train in urban, mountain, and desert environments, and practice everything from marksmanship to artillery strikes. One of the highlights of the exercise is the chance to drill at Jordan’s special forces training center – the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre – which is carved out of a mountain and has everything the most elite soldiers in the world need

“It is a very unique opportunity,” Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, the Commanding Officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, told Business Insider. “It’s not everyday that you get to integrate with a partner force to this extent.”

Take a look at Eager Lion here:


Eager Lion is taking place in multiple locations in Jordan. Because of Jordan’s geography, Marines are able to train in environments like mountains and deserts.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conduct a combat marksmanship program (CMP) shooting range as part of Eager Lion 18, in Jordan, April 17, 2018.

“The training venue that Jordan provides is great,” Sullivan said. “For us being an East Coast based unit, you don’t get these opportunities often.”

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participate in live-fire training in Jordan as part of Eager Lion 2018, April 21, 2018.

Jordan’s rocky mountains and barren deserts gave US Marines a taste of what combat in this area of the world is like.

US MarinesU.S. Marines assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, move out of a trench to the next target during rehearsals for a live-fire training in Jordan as part of Eager Lion 2018.

They also provided a good place to test out operations with heavy weapons like AT-4s, artillery, and mortars.

US Marine CorpsA U.S. Marine assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires an AT-4 rocket launcher trainer during live-fire training in Jordan as part of Eager Lion 2018.

Marksmanship was also an important part of Eager Lion, especially since the mountainous terrain in Jordan is somewhat similar to what Marines in Afghanistan experience.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fire on designated targets from a hill top during live-fire training in Jordan as part of Eager Lion 2018, April 21, 2018.

The marksman drills, like most of the other exercises, were also conducted in the dark of night.

US Marine CorpsA U.S. Marine assigned to Scout Sniper Platoon, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), sights in on a long range target during exercise Eager Lion at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, Amman, Jordan, April 17, 2018.

The King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre (KASOTC) hosted a lot of the drills. “It is a world class facility, no doubt,” Sullivan said.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), brace while an entrance is breached during Eager Lion at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, Jordan, April 18, 2018.

KASOTC is a training center carved out of a mountain that offers a number of realistic training environments, like an airport, embassy compound, and mock village.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepare to clear a room after breaching an entrance during Eager Lion at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, Jordan, April 18, 2018.

“It is the most realistic set that I have ever seen,” Sullivan said of KASOTC, adding that he “can’t say enough good about it.”

Us Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepare to clear a room after breaching an entrance during Eager Lion at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, Jordan, April 18, 2018.

Jordanian soldiers and US Marines trained side by side,

US Marine CorpsSoldiers from the Jordan Armed Forces scale a low wall to clear the next building while U.S. Soldiers provide covering fire, during a training exercise on April 20, 2018.

Sullivan said that “language has not been a barrier,” noting that many Jordanian officers speak English, and that the Marines had Arabic-speaking personnel as well.

US NavyU.S. Marines with Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team — Central Command and Jordanian 77th Marines Battalion train together in riot control measures during exercise Eager Lion 2018, April 18, 2018.

Sullivan noted that the Marines and the Jordanian armed forces coordinated artillery and mortar strikes during a series of drills.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brayen Badoya, mortar section leader, assigned to Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), operates an M224A1 60MM mortar system during exercise Eager Lion in Al Quwayrah, Jordan, April 21, 2018.

The two forces practiced aerial insertions with helicopters and aircraft like the V-22. Fixed wing aircraft were also used to practice dropping bombs on targets.

US Marine CorpsA U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducts a reduced visibility landing during Eager Lion 18, Jordan, April 17, 2018.

Armoured vehicles, like these LAV-25s, were given a chance to hit the desert and see how they would perform.

US Marine CorpsU.S. Marines assigned to the Light Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, transport Marines assigned to Fox Company, BLT 2/6, 26th MEU, to a training area during Eager Lion 2018, Jordan.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.