The United States could leave Patriot anti-missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan following the end of Exercise Eager Lion, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.
Jordan has requested the batteries, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has not yet reviewed it, Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters. Hagel is returning from NATO meetings in Brussels today.
“When the secretary receives the request, he will favorably consider it,” Warren said. “Jordan is a strong partner with us. We have a longstanding and strong relationship with the Jordanians, and we want to do what we can to support their security requirements.”
The fighting in neighboring Syria has raised concerns in Jordan. The Patriot batteries and F-16s are going to Jordan to take part in Eager Lion – an annual exercise that this year encompasses 19 nations and about 8,000 service members. It is scheduled to start June 9 and to run through June 20.
About 200 U.S. soldiers of the 1st Armored Division based at Fort Bliss, Texas, deployed to Jordan in April to provide a nucleus of command and control capabilities if the fighting in Syria spills over into Jordan. About 120,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan to escape the country’s civil war.