US military and IDF launch Juniper Cobra drill in Israel

The IDF and United States military kicked off its biennial “Juniper Cobra” drill in Israel this week.

This year’s drill focuses on defense and training on ballistic missile attacks, with drill scenarios in which the United States would assist the IDF. The drills will focus on war scenarios with Syria, Iran, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. It will include naval, aerial and field training, as well computer simulation.

The drill between the IDF and United States military has been ongoing since 2001. This year there are 2,500 participants from the US military, 1,400 Marines and 1,100 from the Navy, majority from the US European Command. There is a total of 2,000 IDF soldiers participating.

According to the commander of the American forces, Lt.-Col. Richard Clark, the drill is the “biggest, most important exercise held by United States European Command this year and symbolizes our commitment to Israel’s security.” He reported that “For 8 months we’ve drawn conclusions from the previous exercise and thought about ways to improve our ability to defend Israel.”

Colonel David Shank spoke of the strong partnership between Israel and the United States, stating on the exercises “This is a bilateral exercise, it is a ballistic missile exercise and it is an exercise that provides us the opportunity to continue to strengthen our partnership and deepen the cooperation that we have with our Israeli partners.”

Two years ago, the “Juniper Cobra 16” military exercise was deemed a massive success. It was the eighth air force training between the United States and Israel. The drills focused on improving “cooperation and coordination between the two militaries and bolster ballistic missile defense capabilities.” During the training, the Israel Air Force tested its Patriot missile which is now fully operational and has been deployed to Israel’s northern borders.

This year‘s drill will include all of Israel’s defense systems against ballistic missiles, including the Arrow missile systems, Iron Dome and David’s Sling. The drill will include aircraft, navy vessels and ground forces, the USS Iwo Jima and USS Mount Whitney arriving to Haifa’s port this week.

The drill will conclude towards the end of March.

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, March 9, 2018, and reposted with permission.