Some 2,000 American and Israeli military personnel, together with missile batteries and radar, are moving into positions around the country, as the first phase of the Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise unfolds.
Israeli soldiers from the Home Front Command and American soldiers from the Ohio National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force (CERF) have already begun drilling a scenario in which missiles with nonconventional warheads are fired at Israeli cities.
US Army spokesman Maj. Daniel J. Meyers stressed that the exercises were routine, and one of many simulations being held by the armed forces of both countries.
"Israelis and US soldiers need to train to prepare for the defense of their countries, whether that training involves firing a weapon or preparing for any scenario," Meyers told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening.
Meyers added that in the context of the joint exercise, the two militaries "need to train together - even the simplest routine tasks should be drilled. Chances are this is not first time [this scenario was drilled]."
During the Home Front Command-Ohio National Guard CERF exercise, chemical protection suits were donned by participants, and soldiers in protective suits were hosed down with water to practice avoiding overheating.
This year's Juniper Cobra (they take place every two years) lasts until November 5, and will see computerized simulations of missile attacks in its second phase, and dummy missiles fired at Israeli airspace in its third phase, to test Israel's Arrow 2 Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System and the US Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System.
The US has brought advanced-capability Patriot missiles into Israel for the drill.
"I hope that the exercise goes safely for both Americans and Israelis. This is a defensive exercise," Meyers said.
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