April 7, 2006:
The royal family of Jordan has remained in power partly due to the creation and maintenance of a highly trained, and very loyal, Special Forces command (SFC). This organization is receiving lots of new equipment in the next year, and additional counter-terrorism training as well. About ten percent of the Jordanian armed forces are in the SFC, which consists of a ranger brigade, a paratrooper brigade, a special operations brigade and a newly formed aviation unit. By next year, the SFC will have a helicopter battalion with twelve MD500 light helicopters and a dozen UH-60 Blackhawks. The SFC is basically a light infantry organization. Trucks are more common than armored vehicles. To enhance that mobility, the Jordanians are buying Chinese 120mm mortars to replace the towed 105mm howitzers currently used.
The SFC contains a lot of Bedouins, an ethnic group that has long been very loyal to the royal family. In turn, the royal family takes good care of the SFC, treating them, "like family." But the SFC isn't the royal bodyguard. The SFC is meant to quickly deal with any armed unrest in the kingdom, no matter where the gunmen come from (inside, or outside of, Jordan.) Palestinians are a large segment of the Jordanian population, and have never been happy with the fact that Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan is also a refuge for many Iraqi Sunni Arabs who supported Saddam, and are now in exile to avoid retribution for past sins. The SFC is there as a reminder that, no matter how much you may disagree with the king of Jordan, it's not a good idea to get violent about it.