As the Kingdom of Jordan begins to expand its airstrikes against the Islamic State, some officials say that the United States will play a key role in resupplying the country with needed munitions, night vision equipment, and aircraft parts. Some of the support may come in the form of precision-guided weapons such as Joint Detect Attack Munitions (JDAMS), which use modified conventional bombs and GPS technology to boost Jordan’s capability to hit enemy targets, while at the same time reducing or eliminating civilian casualties.
Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated that any collateral civilian damage could cause international backlash. “If you’re going to have Jordan supporting the United States, as it is, in striking at the Islamic State, you want to be able to hit those targets very precisely.”
According to Reuters, Jordan currently receives over $300 million worth of assistance annually from the United States, and as military operations against the Islamic State expand, that amount is expected to increase dramatically. On February 3, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the United States to providing $1 billion per year in assistance through 2017.
Jordan was prompted to expand airstrikes in response to the brutal execution of Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kasaebeh. Earlier this month, Islamic State released a video that showed the pilot being burned alive in a cage.
The Kingdom joins a larger group of Arab countries that have joined the United States in striking against the Islamic State, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
Jordan dropped an estimated 72 bombs in their initial wave of retaliatory strikes last week. However, there are concerns that the Kingdom’s bomb supplies are being stretched too thin. This could make it difficult for the Jordanian military to sustain the airstrikes for any significant length of time.
At the same time, King Abdullah has instructed his military commanders to prepare for a larger role within the international coalition battling the Islamic State. Abdullah met with American lawmakers in Washington last week and made a vocal appeal for greater US support.
Senator John McCain is leading the Senate Armed Services Committee as it urges the Obama administration to respond to Jordan’s requests “with a sense of urgency with electing the pace of events.”
Senator Lindsey Graham was quoted by Reuters as saying, “If the administration does not up its game with Jordan, in terms of equipment for the military, help on refugees, there will be strong pushback from Congress.”