U.S., Israel Launch Largest-Ever Joint Defense Exercise

October 23, 2012 11:45 am 0 comments

Israeli Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Navy, wave to onlookers at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on Feb. 15, 2010. Photo: U.S. Navy.

The largest-ever joint defense exercise between the United States and Israel kicked off on Sunday and is lasting for three weeks in the Jewish state.

Austere Challenge 12 (AC12), an air and missile defense training exercise, will involve 3,500 U.S. military members and another 1,000 from the Israel Defense Forces, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Both countries are testing a wide-range of operational air-defense systems, as well as those still in their planning stages, including the Israeli “Arrow 2” and “Arrow 3” anti-ballistic missile systems; the American “Thaad” (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles) system; Israel’s “Patriot” surface-to-air missile array; Israel’s “Magic Wand” system (designed to intercept medium-to long-range rockets and slower-flying cruise missiles), and even Israel’s “Iron Dome” system (designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells), which has already proven its effectiveness in the Gaza arena.

“I think it’s a very significant commitment and I’m very pleased that the United States is doing this, it’s a big event,” David Ganz, national president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and a resident of Belmont, Mass., told JNS.org. “I think that a lot can be learned on both sides, from the American side and the Israeli side.”

Israel and the U.S. have held a number of joint air defense training exercises. The last exercise to grab headlines worldwide was code-named “Juniper Cobra,” in 2009.

AC12 was originally scheduled for last spring but was postponed over regional tensions with Iran. While the Iranian nuclear threat continues, an IDF spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that the drill was “unrelated to any pinpoint developments in the region.”

Other ongoing security concerns for Israel include instability at its border with Egypt amid the era of newly elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza, the “Arab Spring” and the Syrian civil war.

David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), said in a statement that the drill is “proof of the unprecedented security cooperation taking place between the United States and Israel.”

“Through this drill and numerous others, President Barack Obama has proven yet again the he and his administration are committed to Israel’s security and to supporting the unbreakable bond our two countries have forged,” Harris said.

Obama has so far refused to set the “red lines” for military action against Iran that have been requested by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The president and his administration have repeatedly said there remains time to resolve the Iranian issue through diplomacy and economic sanctions. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The White House denied the report.

U.S. and United Nations sanctions “have not, to date, accomplished their core strategic objective of compelling Iran to verifiably limit its nuclear development to purely peaceful purposes,” a recent Congressional Research Service study said. The sanctions are, however, taking their toll on the Islamic Republic’s economy, with the Iranian rial currency dropping 40 percent.

“The [AC12] joint exercise comes when Iran is under greater pressure than ever before to make concessions to its nuclear program,” Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “This drill sends a message that the pressure will continue, and that despite strategic disagreements between Israel and the U.S. the alliance remains strong, particularly with respect to any Iranian effort to retaliate.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.