U.S. Troops Heading To Israel
According to numerous reports, the United States will be sending combat troops to Israel in addition to the planned missile defense exercise dubbed “Austere Challenge 12”. The JTA writes, ‘Last week, plans for Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to visit Israel in January were leaked to Israeli media; his visit likely will coincide with the largest-ever joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile exercise’.
The buildup comes as Iranian threats to U.S. Naval personnel in the Gulf escalate tensions around a possible military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
U.S. Command posts will be placed on Israeli soil while Israeli personnel with be added to U.S. European Command in Germany (EUCOM). It’s expected the U.S. will bring it’s THAAD system (Thermal High Altitude Area Defense) and the Aegis missile defense systems, to supplement Israel’s existing Patriot and Iron Dome systems.
This planned exercise follows a December visit by U.S. Air Force representative Lt.-Gen. Frank Gorenc, where he met with the commander of Israel’s Air Force Air Defense Division, Brig. Gen Doron Gavish.
Referring to Iran’s recent missile tests in the Persian Gulf, Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak said it showed, “the dire straits of Iran in light of the tightening sanctions around her, including the considerations in the last few days regarding the sanctions of exporting petroleum as well as the possibility of sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank.”
Back in November, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs said the planned joint military exercise will be “by far the largest and the most significant exercise” between the two allies.
According to the Israeli military however, this drill has been planned for quite a while and has nothing to do with recent events in the region.