Dobbins airpower on full display at Eager Lion 2019

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Josh Kincaid
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Those called to serve in the Air Force Reserve know they are committing to jumping into battle at a moment’s notice.

These Airmen stay Reserve Ready by continually working to improve their skillset and their operability, both of which can be honed by an international exercise such as Eager Lion 2019.

Marking its ninth iteration, Eager Lion is a multilateral exercise hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, 2019. It is designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations, and considered the capstone of a broader U.S. military relationship with the Jordanian Armed Forces.

Jordan is one of U.S. Central Command’s strongest and most reliable partners in the Levant sub-region. Approximately 7,500 personnel from the United States, Jordan and 23 other nations were scheduled to participate in the exercise.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base was the primary provider of air support for EL19. They supplied and operated two C-130H3s, which were instrumental to several key exercises.

The exercises from EL19 were based on fictitious adversaries, but focused on counter-terrorism, integrated air and missile defense, maritime security and border security. All of which couldn’t be possible without the air support from Dobbins and its Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“This has been one of the best exercises that I’ve been on,” said Capt. Anthony Toste, a C-130H3 pilot from the 700th Airlift Squadron. “We have had the opportunity to do so many types of missions since we’ve been here. Anything from the Rapid Air Land, to flying around, being able to meet with different users from different countries and to work with them, from airdrops to low-levels. We’ve done pretty much everything a C-130 has to do.”

The Rapid Air Land consisted of the C-130H3 loading up British and Jordanian military members and quickly dropping them off on an airfield to simulate an airfield takeover, said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Cline, a 700th AS loadmaster.

“Airdrops, that’s our bread and butter,” Cline said. “You can tell that we’re not a big, huge plane as a C-130, but we have the capability to load up and drop equipment. We can do heavy equipment, which would be Humvees, tanks, anything that can fit on the platform. For personnel, we have the capability of going out of the tailgate or the parachute doors.”

That same tailgate was utilized by Special Operations Forces Soldiers during the multinational airborne operation, commonly known as the Friendship Jump, during the final exercise of EL19. It was an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships.

Being in the Middle East may seem cut and dry when it comes to predicting the weather, but pilots and jumpers rely heavily on accurate weather briefs to affirm that they’re being as safe as possible during these exercises.

“My weather briefs have been focused on giving pilots and jumpers up-to-date information on weather patterns before they were airborne,” said Staff Sgt. Shayne Welsh, a weather supervisor augmented from the 28th Operational Weather Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “Wind patterns greatly affect the jumpers, especially once their parachute has been deployed.”

Aside from military exercises, Dobbins Airmen also got to experience the unique culture and views Jordan has to offer.

“In the air we’ve had the opportunity to go over the Dead Sea, which was beautiful,” said Cline. “In Jordan, it’s very diverse. There’s super, super flat where it’s desert and there are other parts where it’s very mountainous and then just seeing the city of Amman – it’s pretty cool.”

The exercise came to a successful conclusion, but Dobbins Airmen had one more task ahead of them. Hurricanes Dorian and Gabrielle blocked their path back home, but they had a trained weather professional onboard.

“The surprising continuation of Hurricane Dorian up the east coast of the U.S. added another element to my mission,” said Welsh. “Then Hurricane Gabrielle proved to be another hindrance to arriving home on schedule. Tracking the hurricane’s path accurately allowed our pilots to take the safest route back to Dobbins for what I would call a successful mission.”

The hurricanes delayed the return home another two days. The civilian employers of these service members understand their role in all of this and that it’s comforting to know that they have jobs waiting for them when they get home.

“I think being a Reserve Citizen Airman can be a challenge,” said Toste. “It’s good though because I can go back to my civilian employer and I can show them that this is what we’re doing for our country and this is how you’re supporting the military and what we’re doing in order to create a good environment, good exercises and working with an international community.”