Israel, US Marines Begin Amphibious Training in Southern Israel to Prepare for Confrontation With Iran
by Benjamin Kerstein
The IDF and US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) on Monday began mutual exercises in Israel, involving an elite unit of the US Marines.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement that the exercises, which are taking place in Eilat in southern Israel, are being led by the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
The exercise involves the participation of approximately 500 personnel from the Unit, and include a logistics battalion detachment, infantry rifle company, light armored reconnaissance company, and HIMARS platoon. They are training in fighting on urban terrain, infantry live-fire, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) live-fire, and rapid maneuvering.
The exercises also include what the release called “professional exchanges” in various fields.
Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan, commanding general of the task force, said, “This exercise is part of the next chapter in the US Navy and Marine Corps’ longstanding relationship with Israel that is so vital to stability and security in the region.”
Israeli news site N12 reported Tuesday that the exercises involve the participation of Israeli commando units, and are directed toward preparations for a possible confrontation with Iran. In particular, they have concentrated on a hypothetical Iranian attempt to take over an American diplomatic mission or sea vessel.
Although the IDF and US military have an extensive history of mutual exercises, this is the first of its kind to take place in Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that he had held an “important discussion” with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, concerning “US-Israel coordination vis-à-vis Iranian regional entrenchment and its nuclear aspirations.”
“We agreed to meet soon to deepen our discussion on strategic issues and military cooperation,” Gantz said.
N12 stated that the exercises must also be seen in the context of the recent change in US policy toward Israel’s military status. In September, the US placed Israel under the responsibility of its Central Command (CENTCOM), which enabled closer collaboration between the two countries’ militaries as well as with Arab states in the region.
Israel had previously been the responsibility of US European Command (EUCOM).