Sunday marked the beginning of Juniper Cobra 16, a combined United States European Command (US EUCOM) and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exercise, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said in a press release. The IDF sees Juniper Cobra as an opportunity to increase the long-standing cooperation between the two military forces.
Juniper Cobra is a combined ballistic missile defense exercise held biennially by the IDF and U.S. EUCOM. This year’s is the eighth in a series of biennial exercises of the two militaries dating back to 2001. The exercise is part of a planned training schedule that seeks to enhance interoperability between the militaries in the context of exercising defensive capabilities. Planning for the exercise began more than a year ago and is not related to any specific events or developments in the region.
In the course of the exercise, more than 1,700 US service members, civilians and contractors will participate together with the IDF in addressing computer simulated challenges that Israel could face. Increased military activity may be noted in Israel, on the ground and in the air.
Commander of the Aerial Defense Division, Brigadier General Zvika Haimovich said in a statement that “this exercise is a significant mile-stone in the strategic relationship between the two countries, a security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world. This collaboration reflects a commitment to protecting civilian lives as well as a deep appreciation of the IDF, IAF and the Aerial Defense System.”
Major General Mark Loeben, Director of Exercises and Assessments at Headquarters, United States European Command, Stuttgart, Germany noted that “support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of US policy in the region for decades, and this exercise has, and will continue, to directly support that policy. This exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region, and EUCOM’s highest priority exercise for 2016.”