By Sgt. 1st Class Whitney HughesApril 9, 2018
JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Jordan -- The commanders of the Jordan Armed Force's 11th Border Guard Forces and the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment looked on with pride as their soldiers lit up the desert hillside with mortars.
Lt. Col. Zakarea I. Al Ababneh, Border Guard commander, and Lt. Col. Joel Armstrong, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment commander, watched as their soldiers worked through language barriers and equipment and skill level variations to send a continuous barrage of 60 mm mortars down-range at a live fire exercise outside of Amman, Jordan, April 4, 2018.
"This training … gives us an opportunity to work with the Jordanian Army and enhance our interoperability with them for any type of combat operations side-by-side with our partner," said 1st Lt. Rory Height, commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment.
The live fire was part of week seven of the ten-week Jordanian Operational Engagement Program. About 430 Jordanian forces are involved in the JOEP training on a daily basis, said Armstrong.
During the live fire, the Jordanian soldiers fired hundreds of mortar rounds while the platoon of 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment indirect fire infantrymen, or mortarmen, assisted and advised them on how to improve their techniques. However, there was much more work that went into achieving that level of proficiency.
"During the previous weeks, our mortar team engaged with theirs to go over gunnery skill exams," said Height. He explained that these were hands-on practical skill evaluations before actually handling and firing live munitions. "We have seen a drastic improvement in the JAF's ability to conduct fire missions, laying direct and indirect fire," he said.
Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Jason Young, a mortar platoon sergeant with over 10 years of experience as mortarman and mortar platoon sergeant, were eager to work with their counterparts. "I love teaching, I love working with somebody that says 'I've never done this before' and then getting them to pass the gunnery skills exam, which is the exam we have to pass once a year," said Young.
Young explained that JAF soldiers will have to pass the same gunnery exam that U.S. mortarmen take to graduate from Advanced Individual Training and earn their military skill identifier. This includes accurately laying direct and indirect fire with live munitions.
"The training we conducted with them is exactly the way we train our own Soldiers, and they are exceeding, or meeting the standard," said Armstrong.
Some of the U.S. mortarmen have come straight out of their initial training and have been in the Army less than two years. They are training their Jordanian counterparts to the standard that they were taught.
"I've seen their level of training, motivation, and professionalism improve dramatically. Every one of those soldiers are definitely different soldiers than when they arrived here," said Young.