Preparations begin for US-Israeli joint military drill

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Jerusalem, Feb 23 (IANS) Israel’s military has said it has begun deploying forces across the country as part of the preparations for a large-scale joint exercise with the US military next month.

The military exercise, code-named “Juniper Cobra 2018,” will take place from March 4 to 15, with the participation of 2,500 US troops routinely based in Europe and 2,000 Israeli Aerial Defense troops, logistics units, medical forces and other Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units.

“This will be the largest IDF and USEUCOM (US European Command) joint exercise taking place this year,” an Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The aims of the exercise are to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between the two militaries, promote bilateral learning and enhance aerial defence capabilities,” the statement said.

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The drill would simulate a scenario in which US forces are deployed to Israel to aid the IDF Aerial Defense forces.

“Together they will perform computerized simulations of a variety of rocket threat scenarios in different regions,” said the spokesperson.

The simulations will include testing of the anti-ballistic missile system Arrow, Iron Dome anti-rocket system, the medium-range interceptor Patriot missile system, and David’s Sling, which was designed to intercept medium-range missile from southern Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants and became operational in April 2017.

“The exercise demonstrates the strategic and fundamental cooperation between the IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces,” Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of the Aerial Defense Array, was quoted as saying in the statement.

The drill would serve as “an opportunity for the IDF, the IAF (Israel Air Force) in particular, to enhance operational capabilities in the face of high-trajectory threats,” he added.

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Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the commander of US Air Force Third Air Force, also praised the strong military alliance between Israel and the United States.

“The US and Israel enjoy a strong and enduring military-to-military partnership built on trust that has been developed over decades of cooperation,” Clark said.

“The Juniper Cobra exercises continue to strengthen this relationship, providing us with the opportunity to bolster interoperability and develop seamless integration with our Israeli partners,” he said.

It will be the ninth time the Juniper Cobra exercise has taken place in Israel since 2001.

–IANS

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