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October 18, 2012

Largest-Ever U.S.-Israel Joint Defense Exercise to Commence This Weekend

Listed in: Israel, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC- On October 21, the U.S. and Israel will undertake the largest-ever joint air defense drill of its kind in Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman’s Office said that the drill is “another milestone in the common strategic relations between the U.S. and Israel.” The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) hails the Obama Administration for this achievement and its continued close cooperation with the IDF.

“The commencement of Austere Challenge 12, the largest-ever joint air defense drill between the U.S. and Israel militaries, is further 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,” said NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris. “In the face of an unstable Middle East, this exercise further demonstrates President Obama’s commitment that the U.S. will always have Israel’s back.”

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the U.S. and Israel will conduct their largest-ever joint military drill this month to send “a message of solidarity between the two nations to Iran.” The exercise is scheduled to begin on Sunday, October 21st. Bloomberg reports:

The U.K. and Germany also will participate in the three-week ‘Austere Challenge’ exercise involving as many as 3,500 U.S. personnel in the region along with 1,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces, Navy Lieutenant Commander Wendy Snyder, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

‘The exercise will include missile defense elements, as well as combat-service support units’ and participants from all four U.S. military services, she said.

The allied exercise is ‘no doubt intended at least partly to showcase that extensive U.S.-Israeli military cooperation continues despite the differences between the two nations over the immediacy and scope of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear enrichment program,’ Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist for the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement….

‘Each opportunity to train together is an opportunity to further improve our military capabilities,’ U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said in an e-mail today. ‘Austere Challenge 2012 represents another milestone in the strategic relationship.’

According to the Times of Israel,  the drill will simulate a multi-front attack, including drones, rockets, mortars, and ballistic missiles, and will test Israel’s multiple missile defense systems. The New York Times added that about 3,500 U.S. personnel would be involved in the exercise, with 1,000 troops on the ground in Israel. Most of the drill will be computer simulated, but it will also include live-fire training exercises.

The exercise will focus on strengthening Israel’s air and missile defense, and will include further testing of the Iron Dome missile interception shield, a project that was championed and funded by the Obama Administration.