On March 22, 2018, the Department of State formally dedicated a new state-of-the-art U.S. regional counterterrorism training facility in Jordan with a real bang.
As U.S. and Jordanian dignitaries observed from the elevated walkways of the new facility’s “shoot house,” a flash-bang grenade exploded below with blinding light, the room filled with smoke, and a police crisis response team quickly entered, swept the room, and rescued a hostage.
The officers were demonstrating safe room entry and hostage rescue techniques they learned at the new Jordanian Gendarmerie Training Academy, the latest addition to the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in Jordan.
The ATA program receives funding and policy guidance from the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and is administered by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and its Diplomatic Security Service.
The newly opened Jordan Gendarmerie Training Academy (JGTA), was funded, constructed, and equipped by the ATA program. It resides 40 miles south of Amman and is able to host multiple hard skills trainings simultaneously. The facility includes a state-of-the-art shoot house, three multi-purpose firing ranges, a simulated urban environment, and upgraded student barracks, among other improvements.
The Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a pillar of regional stability, one of the United States’ strongest partners in combating global terrorism, and home to one of its largest counterterrorism programs. Jordan has been a partner with the ATA program since 1987, receiving premier counterterrorism training, mentorship, and equipment for its various law enforcement agencies.
For 30 years, Jordanian police, including officers from the Public Security Directorate and the General Directorate of the Gendarmerie, have proven steadfast partners of the ATA program in Jordan and have contributed significantly to U.S. efforts to advance the counterterrorism capabilities of other law enforcement agencies in the region. Jordanian law enforcement officers trained under the ATA program have disrupted various terrorist plots and discovered and seized explosives at Jordan’s borders. Jordan has become a regional training hub where the State Department’s CT-funded ATA program trains not only Jordanian police, but also police from at least 21 other nations.
The ATA program has a long history using Jordanian facilities such as the Jordanian International Police Training Center to host regional hard skills training courses in topics such as crisis response, explosives detection, post blast investigations, and tactical medicine. Due to the growing global terrorism threat and the increased demand for specialized tactical training, the ATA program is increasing its capacity to provide technical assistance and is transitioning the majority of its counterterrorism trainings from domestic U.S. facilities to overseas regional training centers. This transition in Jordan will not only result in cost savings for the U.S. government, but also promotes Jordan’s leadership role in the region, strengthens the U.S.-Jordan partnership, and will double ATA regional capacity to conduct courses in Jordan.
About the Authors: Zeina Hinnawi is a Program Manager for the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. Jimmy Beasley is the ATA Jordan Program Manager for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.