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South Carolina National Guard supports Eager Lion 2019

South Carolina National Guard supports Eager Lion 2019

Story by SPC Chelsea Baker on 09/17/2019

AMMAN, Jordan – U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers with the South Carolina National Guard worked as the Combined Forces Headquarters (CFHQ) in the Higher Control (HICON) in support of Eager Lion, August – September 2019 in Amman, Jordan.

Exercise Eager Lion allows partner nations the opportunity to exhange tactics, techniques, and procedures in the field. The South Carolina National Guard’s role during the exercise was to act as the HICON or higher headquarters, which monitors situations and provides direction for the overall exercise.

“Specific to this exercise I think having an ongoing relationship with [Army Central Command] being at Shaw Air Force Base is important,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Brad Owens, South Carolina National Guard director of joint staff. “We owe it to our Soldiers who have endured years of war to maintain that operations capability and the way to do that is to project power overseas and to represent our state and legacy in those who have come before us.”

This exercise is an opportunity to build a relationship between the U.S. military and the Jordanian military, which helps better assist in creating a stable force. This also allows South Carolina National Guard leadership to develop and train officers and non-commissioned officers to work in a higher headquarters at a theater-level, which gives them the opportunity to gain experience they otherwise wouldn’t be able to gain.

“I am very pleased with the efforts of the staff in the build-up to the exercise. There has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone on with all the staff elements,” said Owens. “I’m also very pleased with the fact that a lot of our Soldiers have never really worked at the battalion or brigade-level and now we are introducing a whole new scenario where they’re working at the strategic and theater-level operations.”

This year marks the ninth anniversary of Eager Lion with more than 8,000 multi-national troops participating including 3,200 U.S. military personnel. The South Carolina National Guard makes up approximatley 50 of that 3,200. This is the second year the South Carolina National Guard has been invited to participate in the exercise in Jordan and looks forward to the potential to participate again in the future.

This exercise was not only a way for all forces to come and work together, but it was also an expierence of a lifetime for some South Carolina National Guard Soldiers. Participating in this exercise allowed several Soldiers the opportunity to not only work with partner nations, but it also allowed them to travel outside of the United States and experience new cultures.

“Working at Joint Force Headquarters, I never thought I would get the chance to participate in an exercise like this, so when the opportunity was presented I was very excited to be able to go,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Amelia Jackson, acting CFHQ intelligence request for information manager for exercise Eager Lion. “Being my first time out of country with the military, this exercise has been a great experience allowing me to learn and work with individuals I never thought I would get to work with.”

The South Carolina National Guard may play a small role in exercise Eager Lion, but they will have new skills and on the job training they can take back to their units, allowing them to have a better understanding of a Combined Force Land Component Command and Combined Joint Task Force and how coalition forces come together to develop a headquarters and interact with each other.

“Although it may only be [about 50] people coming to Jordan for a 10 to 15 day exercise, it’s still a tremendous amount of responsibility and I think we have done well representing our state and the nation,” said Owens.

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