EUCOM chief visits Israel for talks with Gantz

Admiral James Stavridis meets with chief of General Staff for talks expected to focus on US-Israeli military cooperation.

September 27, 2011 04:54
1 minute read.
IDF chief of General Staff Benny Gantz [file]

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 Russo.

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.

Next 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.

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