Racing to load missiles on fighter jets. Disarming underwater mines. Searching enemy ships. Launching beach assaults.
The U.S. military has been busy in the past few weeks.
Across two military exercises -- called Eager Lion and CARAT -- the U.S. military worked with 27 countries on collaborative defense and security, showcasing its guided missile destroyers, F-16 fighter jets and more in the Middle East and Asia.
And nearly six thousand U.S. military personnel accompanied those key assets.
More than 8,000 military personnel from 19 countries gathered in the Kingdom of Jordan for the annual military training Exercise Eager Lion.
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This year’s training occurred against the backdrop of ongoing concerns that the Syrian civil war fighting will cross the border into neighbor Jordan’s territory, which has already generously taken in more than a quarter million Syrian refugees.
Kicking off June 9, the 12-day event challenged participants with realistic scenarios like a downed aircraft or the detonation of an improvised explosive device. Eager Lion focuses on land, air and sea operations for border security, counterinsurgency and close air support.
On the ground, live-fire events using different military weapons featured big. The Jordanian Special Operations Forces demonstrated their skills during live night-fire exercises.
U.S. and Royal Jordanian Navy teams worked on explosive ordnance disposal, patrolling and reconnaissance. They also tackled visit, board, search and seizure techniques.
On the U.S. side, amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge participated with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit that helped enforce the no-fly zone in Libya. The U.S. also brought an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and U.S. Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team to the exercise.
Harrier, Cobra, Osprey, C-5 Galaxy, F-16 and F-18 aircraft were just some of the air power the U.S. brought to the integrated aviation exercises.
The F-16 Fighting Falcons were brought in by the Colorado Air National Guard and Ohio Air National Guard.
The Marine Fighter Attack squadron also operated out of a training base in Northern Jordan and participated in close air support missions working closely with joint tactical air controllers on the ground.
In a practice munitions-loading challenge between the U.S. and Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Colorado Air National Guard competed to load inert practice bombs on an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet.
A CARAT at sea
In the South China Sea, the 19th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, known as the CARAT exercise, drew to a close on June 23.
More than 1,200 U.S. Sailors and Marines participated in the series of naval exercises with the armed forces of eight countries. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste all contributed troops.
During the 10 days, participants were challenged on land and at sea in scenarios related to current maritime threats.
Nine amphibious assault vehicles, five aircraft, forward deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga, littoral combat ship USS Freedom and 300 Marines joined Malaysian Army paratroopers to launch amphibious landings on Batu Beach over two days.
The USS Freedom, designed for near-shore missions, surface and anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures, was used to anchor close to the beach and monitor the landing events.
Using Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter, the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 provided air support.
On shore challenges for the U.S. Marines and Malaysian army soldiers included jungle training, combat casualty medical care and marksmanship. And the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 Seabees and the Malaysia Royal Engineer Regiment built a community center for the local fishermen.
Training exercises like Eager Lion and CARAT are important to building relationships between the U.S. and coalition partners -- and improving regional security by hone skills for today’s threats.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.