US military chief arrives in Israel to discuss regional security issues

Dempsey visit follows trip to the region by air force head; Pentagon says Iran threat, Syrian civil war and Sinai to top agenda.

US General Martin Dempsey 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
US General Martin Dempsey 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff,  arrived in Israel on Monday for a key visit to discuss regional security issues.
Dempsey will later travel to Jordan, where the US has kept military forces – including an F-16 squadron – on standby for developments in neighboring war-torn Syria.
Dempsey will discuss in Israel “potential threats from Iran, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and uncertainty in the Sinai,” the Pentagon said.
His visit comes at a time of signs of increased impatience from Jerusalem over Iran’s nuclear program, and concerns that newly elected President Hassan Rouhani will dupe the international community into giving Iran more time for talks, while uranium and plutonium are processed to reach nuclear weapons capability.
In Jordan, Dempsey will visit American troops stationed in the kingdom, “to gain a richer understanding of how the conflict in Syria is affecting Jordan and the region.”
Dempsey has signaled his reservations to American military intervention in Syria, citing unintended consequences, high costs, and a lack of an end-game in the chaotic country.
Last week, Gen. Mark A. Welsh, chief of staff of the US Air Force, paid a four-day visit to Israel, during which met with senior IDF officers, including the chief of staff and the commander of the Israel Air Force.
They discussed “joint security challenges in light of the security situation in the region, and strengthening the unprecedented cooperation between the forces,” the IDF said.
Welsh flew a Beechcraft King Air plane to gain a view of Israel’s borders from above.
“The US military and the IDF share strong strategic ties based on joint values and excellence,” the IDF said.
Welsh said last week that “it was wonderful to visit this beautiful country again,” adding that it was a privilege to meet with IAF personnel, whom he described as “incredible.”
He cited stories he heard from IAF commanders “on patriotism and exceptional leadership,” adding, “I’m leaving with the knowledge that we have a strong partner in my friend [IAF chief Maj.-Gen.] Amir Eshel.”
Cooperation will be critical in the future, Welsh said.