Israel-US Joint Exercise Begins

Israel and the United States kicked off the joint military exercise 'Juniper Cobra' on Thursday in the shadow of threats from Iran.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 20:34

Gavish, Richardson kick off 'Juniper Cobra'
Gavish, Richardson kick off 'Juniper Cobra'
Israel news photo: Flash 90

More than 2,000 officers and soldiers from the Israeli and American armies began a joint military exercise on Thursday morning. The drill, titled “Juniper Cobra,” is being conducted for the fifth time since 2001, and will focus on defensive measures against ground-to-ground missiles. Air, land, and sea forces from both the Israeli and United States militaries are taking part in the exercise.

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IDF Brigadier-General Doron Gavish said the exercise would not include aggressive maneuvers. Gavish spoke at a joint press conference with U.S. Rear Admiral John Richardson.

Both Gavish and Richardson denied that the exercise was connected to recent international events, including concerns of a missile threat facing Europe and talks between Western powers and Iran over the latter country's nuclear program. The drill “is the fifth of its kind, and has been in the works for a year and a half. It is not in any way tied to current regional developments,” Gavish said.

While the exercise was not planned in response to recent threats, the lessons learned may be implemented in developing situations, Richardson said. "This exercise is not directly related to recent announcement about ballistic missile defense in Europe, but the lessons and the insights that we gain from this exercise will certainly relate to developing that capability,” he explained.

"Most importantly,” he said, “we will advance the trust and the confidence in the relationship between our two forces.”

Richardson: Israel Can Defend Itself
In response to a question from the press, Richardson said he is confident that Israel is capable of defending its citizens. Calling the IDF a “highly capable force,” Richardson expressed confidence that the Israeli military can handle whatever challenges it faces without outside help.