Despite budget constraints and reports of tension between the Obama
administration and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the United States Army is
looking to increase cooperation with the IDF, and will hold one of the largest
joint exercises in the two nations’ history in 2012, a senior American general
said on Wednesday.
Lt.-Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of the US Army in
Europe, told The Jerusalem Post
that the two armies will hold a massive ground
forces exercise in Spring 2012 called “Austere Challenge,” which will seek to
increase inter-operability between the IDF and the US Army.
which is unprecedented in its size, will include the establishment of US command
posts in Israel and IDF command posts at EUCOM headquarters in Germany – with
the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces for the event of a future
large-scale conflict in the Middle East.
“We are looking to increase
relations and to expand training,” he told the Post
following a meeting with OC
Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen.
Sami Turgeman at the Latrun Armored Corps
Shortly before Austere Challenge, scheduled for May, the EUCOM
will also hold the Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise with the IDF, and
include the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High
Altitude Area Defense) and the shipbased Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.
The exercise is expected to include the actual launching of interceptors from
Hertling and Turgeman also discussed the possibility of
sending IDF officers to US Army training schools in Germany, where the officer
would serve on the faculty of the school and share his experiences with new
recruits training ahead of deployment.
US Army units frequently spend
time in Germany before deploying in Afghanistan or Iraq.
expressed specific interest in sending American soldiers to Israel to study at
the IDF sniper school at the Adam Military Base near Modi’in which he visited on
Hertling said that while he anticipated cuts to the US Army’s
budget, he did not believe it would have an effect on joint-training programs
with the IDF.
“We will have to look at some things, but in the short term
we are in good shape,” he said, adding that the Army’s relationship with the IDF
would remain strong and efficient.
Hertling said that he discussed with
Turgeman some of the lessons the IDF learned from the Second Lebanon War in 2006
against Hezbollah, and how the intifada affected the military ahead of the war.
He said that the US was facing a similar challenge after nearly 10 years of
conducting counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
came out of the intifada like we are coming out of the counter-insurgency
environment,” he said. “We see the same thing, which is the need to continue to