OTTAWA — Thousands of troops from more than two-dozen countries including Canada are kicking off an annual military-training exercise in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan amid heightened tensions between the West and Iran.
While much of the attention during Exercise Eager Lion will be on broader geo-political tensions, the exercise represents something very different for a small group of Canadian Forces members.
That is because Eager Lion represents a major test to determine whether an all-female platoon of Jordanian soldiers that Canada has been training for nearly a year is ready to put its skills to the test.
Canadian Forces Col. Paul Lockhart, who is helping manage the training program, says the Jordanian military decided it needed an all-female unit in response to concerns about female extremists inside the country.
Men in the Middle East are generally forbidden from touching and searching women, which in Jordan is a concern given an influx of refugees from Syria and other neighbouring countries where the so-called Islamic State is present.
Master Warrant Officer Lisa Kachanoski, who is working directly with the all-female unit, says the Jordanian women are eager to show what they’ve learned and eventually put their skills to use in real-life situations.