US, Israel prep for largest ballistic missile defense bi-lateral exercise
STUTTGART, Germany (Oct. 18, 2012) – Senior leaders for the exercise Austere Challenge 2012 announced the arrival of U.S. troops and equipment in Israel for the event and provided background to reporters via telephone Wednesday from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the senior American officer in Israel for the exercise, said about 1,000 U.S. troops will be working with a similar number of Israel Defense Forces personnel during the approximately 3-week bi-lateral exercise -- known as AC12 -- and those troops have begun to arrive in country. Another approximately 2,500 U.S. personnel will participate from locations in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Mediterranean Sea.
“There is one part of the exercise with live fire to check some of the systems, but most of the exercise is based on simulation. There is one part when the troops will go and practice in the field,” said Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, the IDF’s lead AC12 planner. “The scenario will deal with threats from all the fronts, and our mission is to make sure we know together how to deal with potential threats coming from all fronts.”
The generals explained that command and control elements will be tested in the exercise along with defense systems, including Patriot and Arrow 3 missile batteries, and an Aegis ship.
At a cost of approximately $30 million for the United States and 30 million shekels ($8 million) for the Israelis, the exercise is “purely about improving on our combined U.S.-Israeli military capabilities — it’s about military teamwork. AC12 is not related to election cycles or any perceived tensions in the Middle East. We are military professionals coming together to train for a defensive mission,” Franklin said.
The United States has a decades-long diplomatic and military relationship with Israel and routinely exercises those defense systems which are vital to security in Israel and the region.
“This is the largest exercise in the history of the long-standing military relationship,” Franklin said. “The exercise is part of a long-standing agreement between U.S. European Command and the Israeli Defense Forces to hold bilateral training exercises on a regular basis. Austere Challenge 12 is the sixth large-scale exercise our countries have held together throughout our partnership.”
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