The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan represents a key partner and reliable ally for NATO, playing vital roles on NATO’s Southern flank, as a moderate force in a tumultuous region. But the kingdom also remains aid-dependent, resource-poor, and subject to crises from within and without. Yet, despite its longstanding partnership with NATO and with Western countries in general, the kingdom is too often neglected and under-valued.
Jordan has carved for itself a moderating and stabilizing role in a region that is often viewed as immoderate and unstable.  Jordan’s former foreign minister once famously wrote that Jordan was a key part of the "Arab Center", a set of countries (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) with moderate foreign policies and close alliances to the West.  But since the 2011 Arab uprisings, neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia can be seen as particularly moderate at home or abroad, leaving the smallest of the three – Jordan – as one of the few moderate forces in a region now ablaze with civil war in Syria, instability in Iraq, the rise and fall of Jihadist movements and even purported "states" such as ISIS or Daesh, and continuing violence and unrest over the unresolved question of Israel and the Palestinians.
Unfortunately for Jordan, these are also its immediate neighbors – Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. ISIS and the al-Qa’ida have also operated across two of Jordan’s borders. The Hashemite Kingdom stands, therefore, literally at the center of the region’s current main conflicts, but it also remains just as central to prospects for regional peace and stability. Jordan as a country is small, but its role in the region is not.
NATO-Jordan partnership has increased steadily over time, especially since the 1990’s. This is reflective of Jordan’s broader foreign policy stances, and its extensive ties with Western powers and global institutions. In bilateral terms, the U.S. declared Jordan a "Major non-NATO Ally" in 1996, setting the stage for ever-increasing military and economic cooperation. Jordan plays a disproportionately large role (especially considering its small size) in global peacekeeping through the United Nations. Jordan is also part of the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue and deployed troops in NATO’s missions from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Afghanistan. Since 2010, the Hashemite Kingdom has also hosted (along with the U.S. Department of Defense) the annual Eager Lion military exercises: this two-week military event is the largest set of military exercises in the Middle East, emphasizing joint and combined operations, and bringing together forces from as many as 18 allied countries. 
In 2018, NATO and Jordan deepened their cooperation by signing the NATO-Jordan Defense Capacity Building Project (DCB). The project is designed specifically to enhance Jordan's crisis management capacities, to help strengthen its borders, and to develop its abilities in cyber defense. The program is intended to reform and modernize the Jordanian armed forces, which are generally viewed as small but well-trained and professional. But regional challenges, especially since 2011, are severe. This includes war or at minimum rising tensions across Jordan’s borders with Syria and Iraq, as well as with Israel and the Palestinian territories. As a result, the NATO partnership focuses on increasing Jordanian border security and enhancing military to military cooperation. It is also aimed at helping Jordan develop a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and to improve its cyber security in its struggle against Jihadist movements, from ISIS to al-Qa’ida.
Jordan has been especially active in the struggle against ISIS and Jihadism at multiple levels. It participated in the anti-ISIS coalition and was the only country to lose a pilot: the brutal murder of Muath Al-Kassasbeh at the hands of ISIS sent shockwaves across the kingdom, leading many to question Jordan's role in that effort. But the Hashemite regime has remained adamant that combating Jihadism is unavoidable. Jordan has therefore played a key role in two ways: as part of a struggle over ideas (King Abdullah II routinely refers to Jihadists as khawarij, heretical outlaws) , and as part of a more material and military fight against Jihadists.
In more material and logistical terms, Jordan has supported national rebuilding efforts in neighboring Iraq, including training Iraqi police at the Jordan International Police Training Center (JIPTC) and training allied military personnel (especially in counter-terrorism efforts) at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC). Jordan has also allowed NATO extensive use of its Muwaffaq Salti Airbase near Azraq, which has become increasingly important as the Turkish role in NATO - and specifically that of Incirlik Air Base - is now less certain. More generally, Jordan played a critical role as a forward staging area and supply route to NATO military forces in the fight against ISIS, and is likely to do the same in any efforts by ISIS to reconstitute itself, or against al-Qa'ida in Syria and Iraq.
Jordanian policy makers are well aware of the kingdom's vulnerable geographic position, but also of the kingdom's geopolitical centrality and importance: Amman has always placed high value on alliances and international partnerships, including its longstanding cooperation with NATO. While its connections to Western powers have been more stable and consistent, historically speaking, its regional alliances have fluctuated frequently, usually due to matters beyond Jordan's control. But the period since the 2011 Arab uprisings has been especially volatile, even by regional standards.
Jordan has been deeply affected by the Syrian civil war, absorbing at least 650,000 Syrian refugees in a country of less than 7 million people. But Jordan is also one of very few countries to have solid working relations with multiple protagonists in that conflict, including even global powers such as the U.S. and Russia. In July 2017, the U.S., Russia and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Principles that was designed to create a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria (near the Jordanian border). That arrangement seems now to have collapsed, as a new offensive and wave of refugees has instead emerged. But Jordan continues to make extensive use of its relations with both Russia and the U.S. in a renewed attempt at a truce and resolution: it therefore may be in the unique position of playing a broader mediation role between the two global powers.
In regional terms, Gulf monarchies reacted with alarm to Jordan’s own version of the Arab Spring, when protesters marched throughout the kingdom, calling for change: this led to large Gulf aid packages to stabilize Jordan (many of them NATO's partners) over the next several years. In the past year, however, many of those aid sources expired, while living conditions did not improve and Jordan’s debt skyrocketed to 95 percent of its GDP.
With an apparent (but temporary) coldness emerging from the Gulf toward Jordan, the kingdom put out feelers to see if more cordial relations with Turkey and even Iran might be possible. These were tentative efforts, and with a resurgence of mass protests in Jordan (in June 2018), Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar all suddenly rediscovered their concerns over Jordanian stability and pledged greater aid to the kingdom. But these too appeared to be temporary measures. Jordanian officials welcome the support, but worry about what strings are attached, especially given intense intra-GCC rivalries such as the one between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, or even a de facto regional Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Jordanian policy is predicated on maintaining at least proper relations with all neighbors as well as regional powers and it emphasizes the mutual benefits of Amman's partnership with NATO. The kingdom maintained ties with the Assad regime in Syria, even when it allowed the U.S. to back and train anti-Assad rebels in the earlier years of the Syrian civil war; relations with Israel and Iran alike are fairly cold, but functional. It has established a more stable, if not warm, relationship with Turkey (especially after Jordan opposed the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem), and it now seeks to re-solidify its traditionally strong relations with Egypt and each of the GCC states, without alienating any of them and - very importantly - without getting dragged into any of their rivalries, or worse, any of the disastrous Saudi military interventions in the region (such as in Yemen).
Walking a kind of regional alliance tightrope is the norm for Jordanian politics and policy.  That is precisely why the kingdom places such high value on what it sees as its more consistent and reliable global alliances including, especially, with NATO. The Jordanian state feels it needs NATO support to be sure, but it is also aware that its own regional role is so unique, so in line with the Atlantic Alliance’s own efforts and views, that NATO’s support is well-deserved, and that it therefore amounts to a truly mutual alliance.
 Curtis R. Ryan, Jordan and the Arab Uprisings: Regime Survival and Politics Beyond the State. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018 https://cup.columbia.edu/book/jordan-and-the-arab-uprisings/9780231186278
 Marwan Muasher, The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
 The 2018 Eager Lion military exercises included 7 NATO counties (Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Poland, United Kingdom, United States) as well as 10 Middle Eastern countries (Jordan plus Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates).
 Remarks by H.M. King Abdullah II, 70th Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 2015.
 Curtis R. Ryan, Inter-Arab Alliances: Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009.