The US-Arab Eager Lion 2012 exercise ends Wednesday, May 30, after 12,000 mostly American as well as Saudi, Jordanian, Qatari and UAE special forces troops staged three weeks of joint maneuvers in Jordan.
In the marine section, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, around 3,000 US, Jordanian and Saudi special forces troops of three battalions practiced landings on Jordanian beaches and the rapid seizure of fortified mountain bases and command posts on Jordanian terrain resembling the three islands commanding the Strait of Hormuz where the Revolutionary Guards have established marine bases and other parts of Iran.
The mountains behind Aqaba port soar to 6,000 ft.
Taking part were the US 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, Maritime Raid Force, the 24th Maritime Expeditionary Unit, the Jordanian 77th Reconnaissance Battalion and Saudi special marine forces aboard landing craft.
Their command post was set up aboard the new USS New York amphibious transport dock, which was sent to the Red Sea to boost American strength in the region with 700 marines aboard, landing craft and helicopters for dropping troops opposite land targets.
The command vessel and the exercise were clearly visible to observers from the neighboring Israeli port and resort town of Eilat.
In the ground section of Eager Lion 2012, large scale US and Arab special forces carried out practice operations backed by air and armored strength including assault helicopters in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, secretly visited both sections of the exercise. If President Barack Obama orders an attack on Syria or Iran, he will be in command.
Our intelligence sources in Washington report that, Saturday, May 26, the president turned down Gen. Mattis’s application for a third US aircraft carrier and strike force to join the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise deployed in the Persian Gulf. Obama decided not to raise military tensions with Iran so long as Tehran is ready to keep negotiations with the six world powers going. Should they break down, he would likely reconsider.
Meanwhile, Eager Lion 2012 is an important adjunct to international intervention in the Arab Revolt and preparations for war with Iran.
Last Thursday, May 24, a Russian arms ship, the Professor Katsman, was detected approaching the Syrian port of Tartus. Although the crew shut down communications systems and crept forward in silence, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources discovered the vessel dropping anchor in the Syrian port Friday. Military equipment was then unloaded behind tarpaulin screens and transferred to waiting Syrian military truck convoys.
Our sources identified the cargo delivered as consisting of large quantities of artillery and tank shells as well as spare parts for tanks.
The North Korean arms ships Odai is also reported on its way to Tartus with hardware for the Syrian army.
Our military sources report at the same time that Syrian rebels have started using German HK MG4 machine guns in their attacks on Syrian military targets. These weapons are in service with the German Bundeswher. It is the first time German military hardware has been seen in the Middle East in the 67 years since World War II ended. It is not known how the Syrian rebels procured the guns and who is supplying them with ammo.