‘Flying Tigers’ bound into Eager Lion

Soldiers with the 244th Combat Aviation Brigade, part of Task Force Javelin, offload a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from a U.S. Air Force Strategic Airlift C-17, shortly after arriving to King Abdullah II Air Base, Jordan, in anticipation of Eager Lion 19, Aug. 12, 2019. Eager Lion is U.S. Central Command’s premiere military training exercise in the Levant region. The event provides U.S. forces, Royal Jordanian Armed Forces, and 27 other participating nations the opportunity to improve their collective ability to plan and operate in a coalition environment. (Army photograph)

By seeking every training opportunity available while supporting U.S. Army Central’s Task Force Spartan, Task Force Javelin troops have distinguished themselves since arriving to the Middle East in April.

Medical evacuation training with Marines, air assaults with armor infantry Soldiers, paradrop proficiency with force reconnaissance Marines, and deck landing qualifications on Navy ships have all brought the joint elements of Task Force Javelin to this point, Eager Lion 2019.

Just past midnight on August 12, 2019, Task Force Javelin’s forward element arrived at King Abdullah II Air Base, the unit’s launching point for MEDEVAC and air assault missions during the multilateral exercise hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

“Among the greatest strengths our multi-component Soldiers possess is the ability to maintain their readiness for a variety of aviation missions,” said Maj. Joseph Spencer, TF Javelin executive officer. “It’s what we’ve done at home, it’s what we’ve done since we arrived to the Middle East and it’s the type of expertise Task Force Javelin hopes to exchange with our Jordanian Armed Forces partners.”

Task Force Javelin’s element supporting Eager Lion 19 consists of Soldiers from the 8th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, also known as the ‘Flying Tigers’, a staff weather officer team from the 22nd Expeditionary Weather Squadron, and a team of signal Soldiers from the 98th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

Together, their contributions help build on U.S. Central Command’s nearly decade long partnership with Jordan, one of CENTCOM’s strongest and most reliable partners in the Levant sub-region.

Exchanges of military expertise between units and regional partners also improves interoperability for the task force and the task force’s higher headquarters, the 244th Combat Aviation Brigade. The 244th CAB, also known as Task Force Warhawk, supports both Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.

Within 36 hours of arriving to Jordan, the task force Javelin had the blades unfolded on their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and were coordinating with KA2AB air traffic controllers to begin their maintenance test flights.

Since then, Task Force Javelin troops have worked with their counterparts from the Royal Jordanian Air Force to conduct local area of operation route familiarity flights and synced with exercise planners to maximize MEDEVAC training opportunities and finalize details on air assault mission planning.

“They’re supporting regional stability through their relationship building and their visits to other nations,” said Lt. Col. Michael Armstrong, deputy commanding officer for the 244th CAB. “Here in Jordan we’re looking at the (Royal Jordanian) Air Force, with their rotary wing aviation programs and seeing where we might be able to train with them in order to build some partner capacity within some of their programs. It’s not just a train mission, it’s also a partnership; a give and take.”

With Eager Lion events fast approaching, Task Force Javelin’s aviation experts aim to make the most of their engagements with the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces.

“When confronting terrorism and violent extremist organizations, our Soldiers are best served by understanding how to leverage operational level opportunities, which is what TF Javelin is here to do with the Jordanian Armed Forces,” said Spencer.