The United States and Israel next year will hold the largest ever joint military exercise and will simulate and test Israel’s missile defense system, said Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro.
Speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday on "Ensuring Israel's Qualitative Military Edge", Shapiro revealed that approximately 5,000 American and Israeli forces will participate in the exercise to simulate Israel's ballistic missile defense system.
He reiterated President Barack Obama’s stated commitment to Israel and said military aid to Israel will not be cut.
“To ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge, we are closely analyzing the changes in the region and assessing the impact on Israel’s security,” he added. “We are…undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before."
He said that the U.S.-European Command’s Austere Challenge exercise next year will be “by far the largest and the most significant exercise in US-Israeli history."
Concerning military assistance to Israel, he stated. "Today, I can assure you that even in challenging budgetary times, this Administration will continue to honor this 10-year, $30 billion commitment in future fiscal years."
Most of the aid returns to the United States in the form of purchase of weapons and defense systems produced there.
Shapiro noted that American military aid “is rooted in our shared values and outlook… [and] because it benefits our security.”
He explained that joint exercises “allow us to learn from Israel’s experience in urban warfare and counterterrorism…. One only has to look at Afghanistan and Iraq, where Israeli armor plating technology is being used on US military vehicles and innovative equipment, such as the specially designed 'Israeli bandage', is being used to treat our troops.
"The links between our two governments and US and Israeli defense companies have yielded important groundbreaking innovations that ultimately make us all safer. This involves sensors, unmanned aerial vehicle technology, surveillance equipment, and detection devices to seek out IED’s that support our forces.
“Additionally, if we are considering the economic impact, it is important to note that our security assistance to Israel also helps support American jobs, since the vast majority of security assistance to Israel is spent on American-made goods and services.”
Iranian media told their readers that the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), where Shapiro spoke, “is widely known as the policy setting arm of the influential Israeli lobby in the US….WINEP analysts are often invited to congressional foreign policy hearings to offer testimonies promoting support for the Israeli regime and raising alarms against challenges to Tel Aviv rulers, especially Iran, Syria, and Lebanese resistance movements.”