Live At SOFEX In Amman

For the next three days, Jordan will be hosting SOFEX, which stands for Special Operations something or other. Forget about the name. The point is I got to attend the first day and, to my surprise, it was a pretty fun filled couple of hours. Special forces did a whole hostage situation scenario that I thought was pretty cool, at least if you think a bunch of swat officers hanging from a helicopter on a small platform and then dropping atop a plane to take it over, is cool. The event was filled with companies from all over the world, operating in the industry. From tanks, fighter jets and Jordanian Hospitals that are usually sent to Palestine, to bullet absorbing walls for maneuver practice, and one of the more interesting products, military field rations that actually have Middle Eastern food like magloobeh. KADDB, the King Abdullah Design and Development Beure, had some pretty neat gear to show off that I was quite impressed with. Mawared, for some odd reason, also had a decently-sized outdoor booth where they put on display some of the interesting projects they’ve been up to (other than Abdali), including the Living Wall (behind the Jordan Hospital) and the Princess Sumaya village. Their ultimate display was the King Abdullah Bin Abdal Aziz city that’s being built in Zarqa. This thing is, without a doubt, larger than Zarqa itself!

People at the event were mainly military, arriving from all over the world including Morocco, South Africa, Kazakastan, Pakistan, Russia and Indonesia. It is definitely a man’s world over here. I mean I’m not into guns or anything, but the level of testosterone is bewildering. Kind of reminds me of Lord of War, except they give away a lot of free stuff like key chains.

Thankfully, the media room is equipped with Internet access so I leave you with some multimedia:

A military exercise where Jordan’s anti-terrorism team drop from a helicopter and take over a transport plane, rescuing the hostages while being fired upon:

The end of the military exercises (as well as my camera’s batteries)

KAADB’s Nimr vehicle:


  • Did you get to rub shoulders with Cofer Black? What about Rob Richer ?

    Honestly Naseem, I find it the way you discuss Jordanian issues a little inconsistent – not to say hypocritical.
    You are often highlighting local stories with a critical tone – not say in a complaining or dis-satisfactory tone. –from social issues, to freedom of speech even up to foreign policy. And on some instances you may even go as far as criticising some royal laws also in an ironic tone…And then all of a sudden you are dancing to Hashmi Hashmi for two weeks, pimping meaningless initiatives and websites while eating magloobeh at exhibitions for war makers and mercenary services!!

    I think you are in a position to realise that the palace in Jordan is the most and the only influential part in Jordanian policy…on every level… and in my personal opinion a person with a basic understanding of how this country works would either: demand better from the decision makers, join the herds of clappers and dancers or simply say nothing….But to try to give yourself legitimacy through endless criticism with the purpose of masking your conformist nature is just deceiving and dishonest.

  • Musa: thank you for you comment. I don’t want to defend opinions, perspectives or points of views or criticisms about myself, simply because everyone will have their’s and there’s nothing I can do to really change it. Over the months I’ve met people who think I’m too pro-establishment and I’ve met people who think I’m too anti-establishment. Suffice to say I disagree with your attitude towards me, but that’s a no-brainer.

    I’m a human being and I have my own views and opinions and they form the basis of every post on this blog. If i see something i think deserves criticism, i do so. if it doesn’t, well i’m not going to do it just to appease you or others. I am however consistent in my views on what I think of certain subjects, and they’ve remained unchanged thus far. In Jordan, you have to be able to point out the good, the bad and everything in between. otherwise, if its just the bad all the time, this would be a very depressing blog and we would all probably kill ourselves.

    also, i skipped the lunch yesterday, but i thought it was a pretty neat idea is all.

    thanks again.

  • With all due respect to your case-by-case approach, it must be pointed out that when it comes to Jordan there are major fundamental questions that should govern the evaluation of events, call it an “ideology” or principle stances.
    It is obvious that for the past few years Jordan has been operating within very curious policy lines,from foreign policy to local economics and everything in between. Maybe the reason people can’t tell if you are pro-establishment or anti-establishment is that you have failed yet to take such a distinctive stance …and that is exactly the initial point I was trying to make.

    On a second thought, maybe it is much more comfortable for an opinionated human being to stay afloat between baqaa refugee camp compassionate photo essays and SOFEX reports…it is that kind of “diversity” that thrives.

    I really appreciate your reply Nasim.
    Wish you all the best

  • Musa: I don’t think its fair to reduce all our problems to being black or white. some are, but for the most part, it’s all shades of gray. So one must establish a stance on things case-by-case, position-by-position. if anything, it is this rigid sense of arabian/jordanian absolutism that has gotten us into trouble in the past, and continues to today.

    secondly, a post like this one isn’t meant to be a critical analysis of the geo-political situation of the military industry. it’s just an event. i have to go to these things because of my “real world” job and my “real life” finds its way into my blog every now and then, so don’t take them so seriously because as you can tell, they’re not meant to be. in other words, there’s no reason for labeling me as a hypocrite.

    all the best

  • Mo,
    According to the 2008 Exhibitors list Blackwater has TWO booths…
    [.. Astrophysics Inc.
    AXSYS Technologies
    BAE Systems
    Bell Helicopter Textron
    Benchmade Knife Company

    Blackhawk Products Group USA
    BlackWater USA

    Bren-Tronics USA
    Bushmaster Firearms International USA
    Broadcast Microwave Services USA

    Scroll a little further and here is DynCorp International – another “technology” private military contractor.

    It is also worth noting that Sofex 2006 offered a podium for Cofer Black to give a very informative presentation on how Blackwater is ready to offer up to full-brigade services to resolve small conflicts and insurgency/terrorism all over the world.

    “It’s an intriguing, good idea [a for-profit company becoming an army for hire] from a practical standpoint because we’re low-cost and fast,” (Cofer Black) said on March 27 during the Defense News 2006 SOFEX Conference (in Amman). “The issue is, who’s going to let us play on their team? “Blackwater spends a lot of time thinking, ‘How can we contribute to the common good?’ ” [Cofer] said the company would want to make a profit, but the small force would still be cheaper than bringing in joint forces.”

    Now that’s technology

  • And Nas,
    Please don’t be so harsh on Blackwater, calling them mercenaries and judging them from the simple black-white perspective that can get us in trouble..

    While they may have committed some minor infractions during their mission in Iraq [Jeremy Scahill], we have a strong partnership with them. There are chances that “Jordan has hired Blackwater to train its special forces” [Dana Hedgpeth – The Washington Post November 3rd, 2007]. During an appearance on CNBC’s s Kudlow & Company in August,2007 Cofer Black was passionately encouraging American investment in Jordan: “I mean, look we get something like 6 -700,000 Iraqis that have moved from Iraq into Jordan that require cement, furniture, housing and the like. So it is a an island of growth and potential, certainly in that immediate area. So it looks good.” —If Cofer Black thinks so…it must be good.

  • I dont understand why Nas must be blamed for Sofex, but my question is…..are the Jordanian forces really that good? What will they acheive if they were forced to face Israel one day for example?

  • “What will they acheive if they were forced to face Israel one day for example?”

    they will call upon their islamists to win the war. you know the type…the Hamasis, the Hizboullahis, the Jehadis, the guys who itch for such interaction with our peaceful, enlightened Hebrew neighbors.

Your Two Piasters: