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Dempsey: US-Israel drill to take place in fall
By REUTERS
06/30/2012
Top US officer confirms massive Austere Challenge 12 exercise to be held either in October or November after postponement.
 
The United States and Israel are expected to hold a joint military exercise sometime around October, after postponing it earlier this year, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Friday, confirming previous reports that it was back on track.

"We rescheduled it for October-November time frame," US Army General Martin Dempsey said. "I really don't know what the final decision was, but it is our expectation that that's when the event will occur."

The drill, called Austere Challenge 12, was initially scheduled for April but was surprisingly postponed by Israel in January under a variety of budgetary and logistical claims.

The Defense Ministry admitted at the time that Defense Minister Ehud Barak was behind the decision to cancel the drill. This led to speculation that Israel was either planning on attacking Iran in the spring and therefore did not want US troops in the country or wanted to cause the US to think that it was planning an attack to get the administration to escalate sanctions.

The drill, which is unprecedented in 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 in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East.

The US is also expected to bring its THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile defense systems to Israel to simulate the interception of missile salvos against Israel. The American systems will work in conjunction with Israel’s missile defense systems – the Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report
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