- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
- Foreign minister vows response if Russians are attacked in Ukraine
- Robert Griffin III to drive pace car before Richmond NASCAR race
- Material on Australian shore examined in jet hunt
Israel, U.S. to stage major defense drill
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military is gearing up with U.S. forces for a major missile-defense exercise, the Israeli military announced Thursday as tension between Iran and the international community escalates.
The drill, called Austere Challenge 12, is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli forces. It follows a 10-day Iranian naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Israel’s military said the drill with the U.S. was planned long ago and is not tied to recent events.
Both Israeli and U.S. officials said the exercise would be the largest-ever joint drill by the two countries.
The Iranian war games were carried out as the West was adopting new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, charging that it is making weapons. Iran insists its program is peaceful.
Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear and missile programs and support of violent groups in Lebanon and Gaza, as well as frequent references by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Israel’s destruction.
The Israeli military spokesman did not give a date Thursday for the drill, but a senior military official said it would be in the next few weeks. He said it would be the biggest missile-defense drill ever held, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Israeli official said thousands of U.S. and Israeli soldiers from different units would take part. He said the drill would test multiple Israeli and U.S. air-defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets.
“The U.S. European Command and the Israel Defense Forces periodically conduct routine exercises in Israel,” the Israeli military said in a statement. “U.S. European Command routinely works with partner nations to ensure their capacity to provide for their own security and, in the case of Israel, their qualitative military edge.”
Thousands of U.S. and Israeli troops held a similar exercise in 2009, code-named Juniper Cobra 10, designed to test missile-defense technology.
Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Thursday that the drill is intended not only to practice military maneuvers but also to pressure Iran.
“Defending against an attack is not something that you improvise from today to tomorrow. it’s something you have to prepare, you have to rehearse, you have to prepare for,” Mr. Van Creveld said. “This, among other things, is an exercise to show Iran, the people in Tehran, that Israel and the United States are ready to counterattack,” he said.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta previewed the exercise in a speech last month, saying it would be an example of unprecedented levels of defense cooperation that the Obama administration has achieved “to back up our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
TWT Video Picks
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Professor apologizes after blasting Republicans in class
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014