The U.S. military‘s European Command, US-EUCOM, has joined the IDF for an exercise in Israel involving more than 200 of both nationalities. As part of the drill, the United States deployed – for the first time – its most-advanced missile-defense system: The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, commonly known by its acronym THAAD. While the sophisticated system arrived at the Israeli Nevatim Airbase; once made fully operational, it will be transported to an undisclosed location in the southern part of the country.
As part of its deployment, American troops will be stationed in various locations in Europe, the United States and in Israel to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces.
While the IDF spokesperson’s unit noted that the deployment of the advanced missile-system in Israel aims at implementing a joint operational concept, in which THAAD will be integrated into the IDF’s existing Aerial-Defense array; the US-EUCOM spokesperson’s unit underlined that “The deployment, which began in recent days, was intended to test the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world.” Furthermore, a spokeswoman for the US-EUCOM emphasized that Washington’s decision to rapidly move the THAAD system to Israel was intended “as a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the deployment of the American anti-missile system as part of the joint U.S.-Israeli exercise. He asserted in a televised statement that the “Deployment of the American anti-missile system in Israel is additional testimony to the commitment of the US to the security of Israel. The American THAAD system is considered one of the most advanced systems in the world, and together with our defensive systems we are even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East. The bond between the US and Israel has never been stronger. I welcome the holding of this joint exercise.”
It is important to note that the ongoing joint-exercise comes about a month after another similar U.S.-Israeli drill dubbed Juniper Falcon 2019 was concluded, in which 300 American and 400 Israeli troops simulated, for the first-time, “deployment of U.S. forces in Israel in preparation for future operational cooperation.”
In light of the Juniper Falcon exercise, on February 6th the United States announced that it would purchase the Israeli Iron Dome weapon systems. According to the American announcement, the systems would be immediately integrated and used by the U.S. Army, as part of an agreement between the Israeli Defense Ministry and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Iron Dome system, which proved its high-success rate during years of rocket-fire by Palestinian Islamists from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory, will be primarily used “for defense of deployed U.S. forces against a wide range of ballistic and aerial threats.”