The first three dots appear in the sky, followed by the distinct sound of the blades of UH-60 Blackhawks cutting through the silence.
Sand flies through the air, like waves, as the helicopters come closer to the ground. There they drop-off service members who bound and get set in a security perimeter. As they watch, another set of UH-Blackhawks land and deliver more personnel into the desert near Amman, Jordan, on Sept. 2.
Among those service members dropped-off were members of the all-woman Mohamed Bin Zayed Brigade/Quick Reaction Force Female Engagement Team, part of the Jordan Armed Forces, as well as one British Armed Services soldier. The JAF female engagement team exists to engage with women in situations in a way that also respects cultural norms.
All JAF FET members were integrated into the 81st Rapid Intervention Battalion during this STX lane alongside British and American military forces. Some of the women roleplayed in the scenarios as either friendlies or adversaries. The rest formed the FET element in the battalion.
“The women’s engagement team is very important in the rapid reaction of the armed forces,” said JAF Warrant Officer Haneen Waqueez, a member of the FET. “We work side-by-side with the men in the field, and it is our duty to conduct the inspections of women, provide first aid and to provide assistance.”
The scenario in the STX lane mirrors what FET members are expected to do in real-life situations.
In addition to acting in their specialized role, the FET members performed basic soldier skills, including setting up and providing security, clearing rooms and moving tactically while on mission. Whenever females were encountered during the STX lanes, the JAF FET would be called upon to help search and question them.
The presence of FET members mitigated the stress and distrust a male presence would have in certain situations, such as when searching female detainees or triaging female casualties.
“It has been very rewarding working with the female engagement team as a Canadian soldier, then to work with our coalition partners like the British and Americans, and working towards one common goal here at Eager Lion,” said Canadian Army Master Cpl. Elizabeth Inman, with the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron, and a FET trainer embedded with the JAF team.
Inman has worked with the JAF FET for nearly six months, and much of their training came into play during the STX.
“It just has been extremely rewarding working together,” she said.
The coalition STX lane was part of Exercise Eager Lion 19, a multilateral exercise hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations, and considered the capstone of a broader U.S. military relationship with the JAF. Jordan is one of U.S. Central Command’s strongest and most reliable partners in the Levant sub-region.