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News | April 5, 2023

DTRA Members and JAF Participate in Exercise Jordan Shield 2023

By Story by Andrea Chaney Defense Threat Reduction Agency

IRBID, Jordan—Members of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Colorado National Guard (CONG), and in partnership with the Jordanian government, Jordan Armed Forces (JAF), and the National Center for Security and Crises Management (NCSCM) participated in Field Training Exercise 2023 or Jordan Shield, in various regions around the country to demonstrate Jordan’s capabilities detect and respond to a range of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats.

The three-day, Jordan-led exercise simulated complex CBRN crisis scenarios, the first of its kind at the Jordanian state level, and was implemented jointly with the NCSCM, DTRA, CONG, and other U.S. security organizations.

The exercise was a culminating event after nearly two years of planning built on the heels of partnership that has stemmed for more than 10 years between the Government of Jordan and DTRA.

“While we are grateful to have participated in the planning and scenario-development of this exercise, we had the easy part,” said Dr. Robert Pope, Director of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program under DTRA. “The Jordanians accomplished the real work. They assembled more than 20 agencies to conduct a national exercise held over three days, in five separate locations with multiple agencies and headquarters working in unison,” said Pope.

Each of the three scenarios – biological, chemical, and radiological – spanned three full days, with each scenario triggering a national-level response throughout that time period. The chemical scenario took place at the Port of Aqaba and consisted of a simulated terrorist explosion resulting in a mass casualty chemical contamination incident. The radiological scenario began with an interdiction of smugglers carrying radiological material on Jordan’s northern border, followed by a simulated detonation of a radioactive dirty bomb at a crowded market at King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC). The biological response scenario started with a mock zoonotic disease outbreak at a chicken farm in Irbid Governorate.

“The biological scene included avian influenza as the main virus causing this threat,” said Dr. Mothafar al-Rjoub, a veterinarian at the Irbid Agriculture Directorate within Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture. “Since it was zoonotic in nature, of the disease, we monitored the chicken farm where the central event happened,” he said.

The *mock* influenza case at the chicken farm lead to simulated human infections. In the context of the mock scenario, Dr. Mothafar said the infected human died of the disease and others got sick.

“We did our job as the Ministry of Agriculture and evaluated the situation on day one, wrote the report, and took history on the farm. We had to take samples, do rapid tests which lead to a preliminary [simulated] diagnosis confirming influenza,” he said. “We then had to come back, with more teams, to disinfect, clean-up the farm, decontaminate the farm, remove all infected dead and alive birds, and survey nearby farms to ensure its safety.”

Colonel Dr. Rame al-Khasawneh, a medical doctor, clinical pathologist, and Mobile Biological Laboratory Commander at the Royal Medical Services, a branch of the Jordan Armed Forces, said the Government of Jordan wanted this exercise to be as realistic as possible.

“We want to implement the ‘one-health’ concept which is how to deal with any emerging threats from animal, environmental and human health perspective,” said Dr. Rame. “So from the start, how to connect between the animal and human illness, the teams from the government start to respond from the agriculture side and human side of these cases,” he said.

Dr. Rame said it’s important to participate in exercises like this and understand how all entities react because in this mock scenario, there was a diseased person already hospitalized, a farmer that is at risk of losing more chickens, and therefore it’s a threat on the region’s food security.

“The product of this exercise is to review and revise our Standard Operating Procedures, apply what we’ve been doing to survive, highlight these joint efforts and capabilities and pinpoint gaps so we can work on them going forward,” said Rame. “Our partnership with DTRA and the collaboration with the United States is important for us,” he said. “It gives Jordan the unique capability of being a regional hub combating WMD disruption. There will always be emerging and reemerging of infectious diseases, but now we have a risk assessment for this and are in it together, at a global level, to prevent it.”

Pope said Jordan’s ongoing efforts have strengthened the U.S. Government’s relationship and reinforced shared goals of regional stability in CWMD threat reduction.

“As we study the lessons learned from this amazing exercise, I have no doubt that the relationships cultivated between the Government of Jordan and DTRA will pay great dividends towards finding innovative solutions to our shared CBRN challenges,” Pope said.

For more information on Jordan Shield and other DTRA programs, visit


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