The United States completed a massive military exercise called Operation Eager Lion in Jordan that included 18 other nations and served as a very provocative show of force in a very unstable region.
Major General Ken Tovo of the U.S. Special Operations Command was in charge of the participating U.S. forces said the objective of Operation Eager Lion 2012, which had been planned three years in advance, was to “build partnerships and friendships that will allow us to serve successfully together to meet any challenges that our nations ask us to.”
In other words, to demonstrate our military superiority over the world and remind our brutal client states that their survival and strength depends on cooperation with the U.S. American and Jordanian military officials said Eager Lion is expected to become an annual event in the region.
Michael Rubin, an adviser to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from 2002-2004 and now an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute told the Christian Science Monitor that the exercise was meant to reassure America’s puppet dictators that we have their back.
“In Washington we can convince ourselves we withdrew [from Iraq] per political agreements, but a lot of the propaganda in the region, especially the Iranian-backed propaganda, suggests we fled in defeat,” Rubin says. “One of the perceptions we’re trying to reverse is the perception among many of the Gulf monarchs, and the king of Jordan, that we dumped Hosni Mubarak way too quickly.”
“What this does is send a signal to many of the GCC states that we’re not simply going to turn our backs on all the monarchs,” Rubin says. Building this kind of military-to-military relationship with allied Middle Eastern dictatorships “is an important check against Iran’s military ambitions, and has been a US goal since the 1980s,” Rubin told the CSM.
Many observers saw the huge military exercise as a potential training operation for some future intervention in Syria. Michael Eisenstadt, director of the Military and Security Studies program at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, calls the timing of the exercise “a happy coincidence… I suspect they’re trying to get kind of a psychological operations bump by [publicizing] this exercise now; it puts more pressure on the regime in Syria. But this was planned from a long time ago.”
Mr. Eisenstadt added that while the exercise included all branches of America’s armed forces, it had a particular emphasis on Special Operations Forces, the unit the Obama administration has heartily embraced by dramatically expanding it in size and peppering the entire world with these forces.
Special Operations Forces, writes veteran and professor at Boston University Andrew J. Bacevich, “today go more places and undertake more missions while enjoying greater freedom of action than ever before. After a decade in which Iraq and Afghanistan absorbed the lion’s share of the attention, hitherto neglected swaths of Africa, Asia, and Latin America are receiving greater scrutiny.”
“Already operating in dozens of countries around the world — as many as 120 by the end of this year — special operators engage in activities that range from reconnaissance and counterterrorism to humanitarian assistance and “direct action.”