Benny Gantz 311.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Commander of the United States European Command (EUCOM) Admiral James Stavridis
visited Israel on Monday for high-level talks with IDF Chief of General Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
Stavridis has visited Israel a number of times in
recent years since Israel is under the jurisdiction of EUCOM, as opposed to the
United States Central Command, which is responsible for American military
operations throughout the Middle East.
The IDF and the US Embassy in Tel
Aviv refused to comment on the visit, which for some reason was held under a
media blackout. Stavridis met with a number of top IDF officers including OC
Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal
Stavridis’s visit came a month after Lt.-Gen. Mark Hertling,
commander of the US Army in Europe, visited Israel. Talks with Stavridis were
expected to focus on US-Israeli military cooperation, which includes a number of
major military exercises that will be held over the coming year.
spring, for example, the two armies will hold a massive ground forces exercise
in spring of 2012 called “Austere Challenge,” which will seek to increase
inter-operability between the IDF and the US Army.
The drill, 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.
Shortly before Austere
Challenge, scheduled for May, EUCOM and the IDF will also hold the Juniper Cobra
missile defense exercise, which will include the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome systems
as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the
ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The exercise is expected to
include the actual launching of interceptors from these systems.