JORDAN (Aug. 31, 2019) - Eager Lion's combined joint task force deputy commanding general shared his thoughts about Eager Lion at the halfway point in the Aug. 25 to Sept. 5 exercise.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David C. Hill, in addition to his role in the CJTF, is the senior U.S. Army Central Command representative at the command post exercise, one component of Eager Lion.
Eager Lion, in its ninth iteration, is a multinational exercise hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan since 2011. The 2019 edition features the armed forces from Jordan, the United States and 28 other nations and runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5.
"What I've gathered as we've gone through this year and I've observed that process is we continue to grow in the scope of the exercise and the numbers of partners participating and the complexity of the tasks that our Soldiers, whether they be members of an infantry squad or two general officers - one Jordanian and one U.S. - working together to solve relevant military problems," said Hill.
This growing collaboration has built through each version of Eager Lion and is something Hill said he sees continuing to increase in the years to come.
"I think year-over-year our relationship, military-to-military, strengthens," Hill said. "I've watched our ability to relate to each other, to get to know each other, to think alike in solving the problems that are presented to us in this scenario and I believe watching that happen over a two- to three-week period and understanding that that continues in many respects year over year as we continue to partner with Jordan as I'm confident we will in the future. This is a very reliable partner in an uncertain part of the world that has many shared interests with the United States and I think our military commitment to each other and partnership demonstrates that."
Beyond the scope of the CPX, Hill said that exercises such as Eager Lion help bolster the skills, knowledge and abilities of everyone who participates.
"And I think for USARCENT, the bottom line is it builds readiness," he said. "I think anybody that comes here will leave more prepared to do their job than they were when they came."
Applying those skills and knowledge is something Hill said can only serve to make this and other exercises in the USARCENT area of operations better with each passing year.
"Each of us, individually, has to reflect that and the knowledge of our military occupational specialty, applying that and then working well with both other Soldiers in our own Army and with those that we interact with here," he said. "We are a foundation that other nations can layer their capabilities on and we can all stand strong together and move forward."
Beginning in 2020, U.S. Army Central will transition from participating in Eager Lion annually to switching between Eager Lion and Bright Star in Egypt each year.
"I think each exercise takes on its own life and it changes one after the other because we're a learning organization," Hill said. "I don't think we have unique challenges as it relates to adapting to Bright Star and I think one of the strengths of our training in the United States is how we plan and prepare for it. So I'm confident that as we anticipate Bright Star from initial planning conferences where we set the scope of the exercise and start to talk about training objectives to mid-planning conferences and final planning conferences and all the things that fill in between the two we'll be able to shape a good exercise for next year."
Collaboration between partner nations is the theme that continues to echo between Eager Lion, Bright Star and every multinational exercise involving U.S. Army Central Soldiers.
"Each day that's gone on through the exercise, oftentimes our Soldiers are partnered in working groups and planning teams collaborating on tactical problems that are part of a scenario," Hill said. "What I've seen throughout the exercise is the direct contributions of the multiple nations that are represented here increasing in every one of those conversations with more active participation and input in both presentation to me and in thinking creatively and critically about the problems. We have from not just our U.S. and Jordan Armed Forces counterparts but, as I said before, all the countries that are represented in this exercise from NATO partners to regional partners, it is really diverse."
One thing that endures for the USARCENT team is, through Hill's eyes, the professionalism of the Soldiers in everything they do.
"It's encouraging for me when I hear feedback from our Soldiers that they've been excited about the training opportunities they've had here and the cultural experiences that they've gained here," Hill said. "I'm grateful for their continued desire to serve and to be a part of this great Army that we have and continuing to work hard in some very exciting places."