- By Paul McLearyPaul McLeary is Foreign Policy’s senior reporter covering the U.S. Defense Department and national security issues. He joined the Washington office in 2015 after working for Defense News, where he was also on the Pentagon beat, and covered stories relating to Pentagon spending and the defense industry. While there, and in a previous incarnation as a New York-based reporter, Paul embedded with U.S. Army and Marine Corps units in Iraq and Afghanistan to cover ground combat operations, where he got inside a secretive drone program being run out of Bagram air base. He has also traveled with the U.S. Navy, covered NATO meetings in Europe with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and stalked major international arms shows in Paris and London.
Three members of the U.S. military were killed Friday while trying to enter the gates of a Jordanian military base in south of the capital of Amman, a defense official confirmed to Foreign Policy.
Details are scarce, but the official said the Americans appeared to have been riding in a vehicle that was attempting to enter the King Faisal Air Base when gunfire erupted.
The state-run Petra news agency reported the Americans were “killed in a fire exchange at the gate” of the base. It’s unclear if the Americans were armed, if they fired back, or even exactly who did the shooting. A Jordanian officer was also wounded.
There are typically several hundred American troops stationed in Jordan, mostly to train local police and Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. Washington funds the training program.
Jordan is key a member of the U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State, and has taken in over 650,000 refugees during Syria’s five-year civil war. But the Hashemite kingdom is also grappling with its own Islamic extremism problem, and at least several hundred Jordanian citizens have joined ISIS. The terrorist group has also launched several high-profile attacks on the Jordanian military from inside Jordan, as well as along its border with Syria.
Friday’s shooting wasn’t the first deadly incident for the American military in Jordan in recent years. Last November, a Jordanian police officer opened fire on a group of international police trainers at the U.S.-funded King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Amman, killing a South African trainer, two Jordanian interpreters and two American civilian contractors.
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