Jordanian Facility to Train Regional and International Forces

Article excerpt

PARIS -- Ground has been broken in Jordan to begin construction on one of the world's most comprehensive anti-terrorism training facilities.

The King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, based 20 kilometers northeast of Amman, will feature a wide variety of live-fire ranges and other land, sea and air training facilities, said representatives during a recent military exposition here.

Situated on 500 acres alongside towering cliffs in Yajooz, the training compound will include a large, live-fire urban training center, a driver training range, close-quarter battle houses, sniper training ranges, vehicle mockups, housing and mess hall facilities that can accommodate 650 people at a time, said Col. Maher Halaseh, project director, from the King Abdullah II design and development bureau, an organization created by Jordan's government in 1999 to provide scientific and technical capabilities to its armed forces.

While the center's immediate beneficiary will be the Jordanian Special Forces Command, the country intends to open the center's doors to other units, both nationally and internationally, upon completion in 2009.

"The center will give non-Mediterranean nations the real environment of fighting counter-terrorism in this area," said Halaseh.

The center could accommodate a battalion-size group, with company-sized elements training simultaneously on the various ranges, pointed out project representatives.

Urban operations training will be conducted in mock villages that simulate homes, two-story shops, embassies, palaces and industrial buildings that are found in commercial areas. In certain zones alongside the cliff, forces will be able to train using live ammunition--a unique feature that is rarely found in military urban training facilities, said project planners.

A tall control tower will be erected near the village so that staff can observe, evaluate and manipulate exercises occurring throughout the entire training center, said Halaseh.

Portions of the compound will be dedicated to mock-ups of buses, railway cars, an aircraft fuselage and airport control tower that will provide realistic settings for hostage scenario training.

In addition, a long, live-fire driving track that weaves between urban building facades will provide VIP-protection training for convoys, said Halaseh.

At Az Zarqa, about 40 kilometers northeast of Amman, outdoor facilities, such as a light anti-tank weapon range, will offer instruction in sniper and infantry battle shooting techniques, said Halaseh.

Maritime security training will take place in southern Jordan, at Al Aqabah on the Gulf of Aqaba, inside a structure that simulates a ship. Maritime counter-terrorism teams can conduct diving, sea and air assaults simultaneously.

The $99 million project is being funded by the U.S. government through a 2005 Defense Department supplemental budget request.

"We strongly support Jordan's offer to establish a special operations center of excellence to boost regional special operations forces capacity," testified Gen. …