Thursday, October 25, 2012

Largest US-Israel military drill under way


 
Source: Press TV
http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/268648.html

The U.S. and Israel simulated rocket attacks during their largest-ever joint military drill Wednesday.

U.S. military officials insisted the joint exercise, called Austere Challenge 2012, was planned long before.

It comes at a time when Israel and the U.S. have openly debated the merits of a strike on Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, and as U.S. support for Israel has emerged as a central issue in the upcoming American presidential elections.

In this week's presidential debate, President Barack Obama cited the joint drill, calling it testament to the strong military cooperation between the two countries. Presidential contender Mitt Romney has claimed that the Obama administration has undermined Israel as it faces threats from Iran and Arab countries.

About 1,000 troops brought in from the U.S. are in Israel alongside a similar number of Israeli troops. An additional 2,500 U.S. troops based in Europe and the Mediterranean are participating in the drill. The exercise will continue for about three weeks.

"Make no mistake. The U.S. is 100 percent committed to the security of Israel. That commitment drives this exercise," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin in a news conference at a training site near a beach in the Tel Aviv area.

Reporters were invited to view a large parking lot near the beach where large camouflage-colored trucks and a Patriot air defense battery launcher were deployed for Wednesday's exercise. ABC News

FACTS & FIGURES

The joint Israeli-American drill is being conducted throughout Israel and off-shore by the two sides comes with a combined bill of close to $40 million.

The U.S. has pledged $30 million to the exercise and the Israelis estimated their exercise costs at 30 million shekels -- around $7.9 million, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

A Congressional Research Service report shows that between 1968 and 2008, the United States gave Israel more than $67 billion of taxpayer-funded military aid grants and loans. In 2007 the Bush Administration signed an agreement with Israel to provide an additional $30 billion in weapons from 2009 to 2018. NBC News

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