By Cpl. Jordan Johnson, Third Army/ARCENT Public AffairsNovember 24, 2011
AMMAN, Jordan (Nov. 24, 2011) -- Members of the Jordanian Armed Forces and U.S. troops recently completed Operation Flexible Saif, a joint exercise between the host nation servicemembers and the U.S. Army Central Command, known as ARCENT.
The two organizations conducted hands-on training, executed information exchanges, and shared techniques and strategies for future security operations. U.S. personnel had a number of goals for the exercise.
"We want to continue to build a partnership," said Staff Sgt. Davarus Shields, a truck driver with a Task Force from 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment. "We'll continue to have more day-to-day training with them and make them feel more comfortable with us."
Shields' unit is based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and came here to help prepare the Jordanian Army in a number of tasks and drills.
"We came to Jordan to assist in training the Jordanian Armed Forces," said Lt. Col. Patrick Quinn, commander, 1-94 FA. "Us being here is significant, not just for my Soldiers to provide tactical experience and instruction, but also to the overall building of partnerships and relationships between the U.S. and Jordanian forces."
Throughout the four-month training period, the Jordanian Armed Forces became even more skilled than they were pre-Operation Flexible Saif, said Quinn.
"Their overall execution of their battle drills has been their biggest improvement," Quinn stated. "The tactical application of the platoons reacting to contact, returning fire, seeking cover and maneuvering in order to destroy the enemy force has improved."
The improvements made by the Jordanian Armed Forces have come through practice and repetition. Leaders from the Jordanian army realize the opportunity their soldiers had.
"This is a good chance for our soldiers to do training," said Jordanian Brig. Gen. Abdullah Rababah, training director. "Everything is going well. We've executed everything we agreed about from both sides."
Both the U.S. and Jordanian forces had similar mindsets of improving their skills and becoming the best fighting force possible. The only real obstacle in the exercise was communication.
"It's often challenging for my instructors to teach the right lessons and impart the right instructions due to some of the language barriers," Quinn stated. "We've had a heavy reliance on the translators and interpreters that we have."
Not only do the U.S. and Jordan speak different languages, but the countries also have distinct cultural tendencies. With approximately 20 translators and interpreters involved with Operation Flexible Saif, barriers were more easily overcome.
"Translators play an important role, especially in Arabic nations, because a lot gets lost in translation," said Spc. Ehab Moukhtar, a translator with the 51st Translator/Interpreter Company.
When dealing with armies speaking different languages, understanding the intent of the message will often determine the outcome of the mission, said Moukhtar.
"When any of the trainers are trying to say something, you have to make sure the Jordanians have an idea of what exactly he's trying to get across," Moukhtar, an Egypt native, said. "You can either make it a success or cause a mission failure."
Having translators available makes communication possible, but also serves as a way to help Jordanian Armed Forces personnel relax.
"They feel more comfortable around me," the Egyptian-born interpreter said. "Yes, I am still an American Soldier, but they recognize me as an Arab. It makes the job a lot easier to be friends with them and establish rapport before you start translating."
Rapport is something both countries have been building throughout the last number of years, and Rababah said the U.S. and Jordan have a positive working partnership.
"I feel there is a good relationship between the forces," Rababah stated. "We have many exercises we execute with U.S. and ARCENT. We get many benefits from training with the Americans."
Third Army is shaping the future by building strong partnerships with countries in the ARCENT area of operations.