The largest missile defense exercise ever undertaken between American and Israeli forces will take place in October, according to Ma’ariv newspaper in Israel.
The exercise, which is named “Austere Challenge 12″, was postponed in mid-January. Following the postponement, reports circulated about whether the Israelis or the Americans decided to delay the drill.
If it was the Americans who made the decision, President Obama wished to diffuse tensions with Iran following threatening statements from the Islamic Republic aimed at the United States Navy in the Persian Gulf. Those who believed the Israelis were behind the decision said a cut in the country’s defense budget was the catalyst.
The Ma’ariv report says American troops will arrive in Israel next week in preparation for the exercise next fall which will includes 5,000 personnel – 3,000 Americans and 2,000 Israelis. The US Navy plans to bring it’s Aegis and THAAD systems (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) to supplement Israel’s Patriot, Arrow, and Iron Dome systems.
The decision to move forward in October with the drill was reportedly reached late Thursday night.