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Countering The Emerging Nexus of Threats


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Countering The Emerging Nexus of Threats

  1. 1. HOMELAND SECURITY Defence Procurement International - Summer 2016 66 Countering The Emerging Nexus Of Threats Jordan has already taken steps to secure its borders, but further measures—both manned and unmanned—are needed if it is to adequately address evolving security threats. By Matthew Hedges T he Royal Kingdom of Jordan is an inherently fragile state balancing the traditional ‘East Bank’ Bedouins and ‘West Bank’ Palestinian refugees, many of whom were exiled to Jordan following the establishment of Israel in 1944. After the 1994 peace accord signed by the late King Hussein, Jordan and Israel have enjoyed warm relations ensuring that Jordan’s western border remains peaceful. To the south, Jordan borders Saudi Arabia, with whom it shares numerous cultural and tribal connections; most significantly the Hashemite Royal Family, which Jordan’s King Abdullah descends from. As a result, Jordan and Saudi Arabia maintain a close relationship, and whilst there is a large border between the two kingdoms, it is relatively secure. It is, however, Jordan’s northern borders that are the predominant source of conflict and strife. The Gulf Wars with Iraq resulted in many refugees entering Jordan, and as a result of the Iraqi military’s weakened security capabilities, criminal activities were allowed to proliferate across the Iraq-Jordan border, culminating in the 2005 Amman bombings of three Jordanian hotel lobbies. The attacks were perpetrated by three Iraqi men (and an unsuccessful female suicide bomber) under the direction of the head of the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Meanwhile, Jordan’s other northern border with Syria has, in the last few years, been the predominant focus of strategic management and force revision. Protests and revolts that sparked the Syrian civil war started in southern Syria and the northern border was a natural crossing point for Syrian civilians to avoid the Assad regime’s repercussions. The exodus of Syrians has created cities in the desert, where extremism and other criminal behaviour is allowed to flourish. Furthermore, in response to the growing conflict in Syria, US Central Command (CENTCOM) established a regional forward operating base codenamed CF-J in Northern Jordan. CONTEMPORARY BORDER SECURITY The Jordanian Border Guard has four divisions that divide the management of Jordan’s borders. The 1st Border Guard Brigade is responsible for the Iraqi parts of the Syrian border, whilst the 2nd Border Guard Brigade is responsible for Jordan’s northern border with Syria and Israel. The 3rd Border Guard Brigade covers the central (and western) border Jordanian Armed Forces soldiers manoeuvre to new fighting positions during a mission readiness exercise (Photo by Sgt. Youtoy Martin)
  2. 2. Defence Procurement International - Summer 2016 67 HOMELAND SECURITY Members of the Jordanian Armed Forces chase a role player posing as a border runner during a border security training exercise in support of Exercise Eager Lion 2014 (Photo by US Sgt. James Hall) Jordanians advance their border security requirements. The timing of the deal meant that Jordan’s northern border with Iraq was the focus of modernisation. Jordan’s border with Syria saw surveillance towers erected across a 30 mile stretch at a cost of approximately $20 million. The first phase of the JBSP was completed in September 2009, and the second and third phases along the Iraqi and Syrian borders, are expected to be completed by the end of this year. This will see a fully operational fence with sensors and communication equipment to protect Jordan’s northern border. Further focus on the JBSP will look to advance and connect mobile capabilities into the network. In addition, via the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a US government programme for combating weapons of mass destruction, Raytheon was awarded a $35.9 million contract in 2013 as part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Integrating Contract (CTRIC II). The contract will see Raytheon train and assist the development of Jordan’s border security personnel. BEEFING UP JORDAN’S SECURITY Acknowledgement of the financial strain and lack of specialised equipment the Jordanians possess, resulted in its allies donating equipment to assist Jordan in protecting its borders. Immediate support saw the deployment of US Patriot missile systems to northern Jordan, which in combination with other aerial assets, successfully intercepted numerous air threats originating from Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, when ISIL fighters made a run for the Jordanian border, the Jordanians repelled them with assistance from US forces. The threat posed by ISIL prompted the allocation of $200 million for the development of a Jordanian Quick Reaction Force (QRF). The UK was instrumental in the construction of the QRF, helping to organise and train a 500-strong unit, which can be mobilised with the Palestinian territories and the 4th Border Guard Brigade is responsible for Jordan’s southern borders with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the southern port of Aqaba. The Jordanian Border Guard also has its own dedicated Communications, Command and Control (C3) unit. Jordan’s borders have faced a number of threats from Israeli incursions against Palestinian guerillas, Syrian support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Black September coup attempt on the late King Hussein in 1970, and more recently, an attempt by ISIL or Daesh to enter and overthrow the Hashemite regime. Traditionally, Bedouin soldiers with limited access to technology, manned Jordan’s border guard. Manned patrols by military and internal security forces provided Jordan with a basic border security capability. But with an increase in regional hostilities and a warming of relations with Israel there has been an increased focus on the development of border security capabilities. In 2008, DRS Technologies (later acquired and absorbed into Finmeccanica) was selected to implement the first phase of the Jordanian Border Security Programme (JBSP). The project worth an estimated $300 to $400 million, included sensors, fixed observation towers and an array of C2 equipment to help the Jordanian Armed Forces border security training exercise (Photo by Sgt. James Hall)
  3. 3. Defence Procurement International - Summer 2016 68 HOMELAND SECURITY to counter any potential threat that ISIL may pose to Jordan. The UK also expressed its intention to donate a £2.5 million package comprising a range of non-lethal equipment, transport vehicles, body armour, communications and IT equipment. The US delivered eight Black Hawk helicopters to Amman in March this year, and are due to send another eight in 2017. In addition, the US diverted four Yemen-bound AT-802’s and the Israelis donated 16 AH-1 Bell Cobra attack helicopters to Jordan. Jordan’s military operates on a low financial budget, resting on the laurels of predominantly Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and a highly professionalised and motivated military (a somewhat rare occurrence in the region). There is a close relationship between international defence contractors and the Jordanian defence industry, more significantly the King Abdullah Advanced Design Bureau. Most maintenance, repair and overhaul services are undertaken by Jordanian companies in a bid to reduce operational and ongoing costs, as well as to train and educate Jordanians in a bid to develop indigenous technical capabilities. In 2015, Jordan received $385 million in FMF from the US, and looks set to receive more assistance in 2016; some estimates suggest they will receive around $450 million. This is one of the largest allocations of FMF to any nation in the world and when viewed in the context of Jordan’s 2016 budget (the debt to GDP ratio is estimated to be around 90%), Jordan is heavily dependent on foreign aid for the running of its public sector. SYRIAN TREMORS Jordan continues to feel tremors from the conflict in Syria and on the 2 March 2016, a counter-terrorism operation undertaken by Jordan’s 71st Battalion in the northern city of Irbid resulted in the deaths of seven ISIL members and the death of a Jordanian soldier. Jordan will establish a counter-ISIL centre, which is aimed at disrupting extremist narratives and discourse. Jordan has reached its capacity to accommodate Syrian refugees and is now facing the task of integrating them into society. Whilst any further border security measures that may be taken on its northern border will not greatly affect its current demographic, it will ensure that any further attacks by ISIL, and other terrorist organisations, do not succeed in disrupting a regional ally. With the JBSP implemented as planned, Jordan will require further manned and unmanned solutions to allow it to efficiently manage its evolving threat nexus. It will be necessary to find cost-effective platforms, as Jordan has neither the funds nor the manpower to spare. Jordan has been gifted capabilities, however these were delivered in response to threats, and not in pre- emption of them. Aerostats and other static surveillance equipment would be of great advantage in this environment when used in combination with an increased number of unmanned aerial vehicles. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matthew Hedges holds a Masters Degree in International Relations of the Middle East from the University of Exeter and is a PhD candidate at the University of Durham where he is researching defence and security policy in the GCC. Jordanian Armed Forces M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers attack a simulated invasion force during a mission readiness exercise at the JAF’s Joint Training Centre, Jordan (Photo by Sgt. Youtoy Martin)