In a hail of deafening flash-bang grenades, a group of Tunisian police officers storms a room occupied by terrorists and saves a hostage, while senior U.S. and Jordanian officials observe from a gallery above.

This mock exercise took place at the March inauguration of a U.S.-funded training facility near Amman, Jordan. The new Jordanian Gendarmerie Training Academy, built and equipped by the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program, sits within a larger Jordanian-operated police training center. American instructors offer tactical training to law enforcement officers from the Middle East and beyond.

“Jordan is one of our strongest counterterrorism partners, and its unwavering partnership provides a pillar of stability in the region,” says Sam Pineda, an official from the State Department bureau that funds and provides policy guidance for the program. He says Jordan has “contributed significantly to U.S. efforts to advance the counterterrorism capabilities of other countries’ law enforcement agencies.”

Components of the new U.S. facility include:

  • A shoot house — a maze of rooms where officers practice breaching doors, rescuing hostages, and identifying and neutralizing opponents quickly.
  • Three live-fire and explosives ranges for explosives training and target practice.
  • A simulated urban environment to carry out tactical training exercises.
  • A tactical medicine course that teaches how to stabilize those injured in a terrorism event.
  • A post-blast investigation course that teaches how to collect evidence from blast sites for forensic evaluation.
Three people in helmets and flak jackets facing another person (© Raad Adayleh/AP Images)
Tunisian police officers receive state-of-the-art tactical weapon training from U.S. instructors. (© Raad Adayleh/AP Images)

A long-standing partnership

Jordan has participated in the U.S. Antiterrorism Assistance Program for 30 years. The Jordan International Police Training Center, which opened in 2008, is also backed by the U.S.

To date, the U.S. Antiterrorism Assistance Program has delivered more than 400 courses to nearly 7,200 Jordanian law enforcement officers and around 1,900 officers from other countries. The program has provided more than $40 million in weapons, response vehicles, explosive-detection dogs and counterterrorism-related equipment to the Jordanians.

The addition of the new training academy doubles the U.S. program’s tactical training capacity of police officers in Jordan.

“Jordan has become a regional training hub where the State Department trains not only Jordanian police but also police from at least 21 other nations. Further, Jordan is a regional leader in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and has interdicted various terrorist plots and stopped explosives from entering its borders,” says Pineda.

Fifty-six countries have been approved to send their police officers for training in Jordan. Participants from Chad, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan, for example, have received U.S. training to detect, deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

“After 30 years of partnership, the program continues to grow,” says Paul Davies, a State Department official focusing on antiterrorism assistance. He said the program evolves to meet the needs of its foreign partners to counter ever-changing terrorist threats and security challenges.