Several thousand US troops headed to Israel for ‘unprecedented’ joint missile defense exercise

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, (center front) Commander of the U.S. Third Air Force on a visit to Israeli combat lab near Tel Aviv, December 2011 (Photo: Israeli Air Force)

On Dec 20 Jerusalem Post reported thousands of American soldiers were deploying to Israel to take part in the “the largest-ever missile defense exercise” in Israel’s history. So far, the U.S. media is not covering it, but Iran sure is.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Israel is moving forward with plans to hold the largest-ever missile defense exercise in its history this spring amid Iranian efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.

Last week, Lt.-Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the US’s Third Air Force based in Germany, visited Israel to finalize plans for the upcoming drill, expected to see the deployment of several thousand American soldiers in Israel.

The drill, which is unprecedented in its size, will include the establishment of US command posts in Israel and IDF command posts at EUCOM headquarters in Germany – with the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East.

The US will also bring its THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and shipbased Aegis ballistic missile defense systems to Israel to simulate the interception of missile salvos against Israel.

Iran is pissed. A few days after that announcement they began a 10 day drill in Strait of Hormuz that ended yesterday, it’s gotten lots of press in the U.S., and yet no mention of the US troop deployment to Israel ever. Here’s WAPO’s Iran army chief warns US aircraft carrier not to return to Persian Gulf in new tough rhetoric

Iranian officials have said the drill aimed to show that Iran could close the vital oil passage, as it has threatened to do if the United States enacts strong new sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

Gen. Ataollah Salehi spoke as a 10-day Iranian naval exercise ended near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf. Iranian officials have said the drill aimed to show that Iran could close the vital oil passage, as it has threatened to do if the United States enacts strong new sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

“We recommend to the American warship that passed through the Strait of Hormuz and went to Gulf of Oman not to return to the Persian Gulf,” Salehi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

He said Iran’s enemies have understood the message of the naval exercises, saying, “We have no plan to begin any irrational act but we are ready against any threat.”

Oil prices have already shot up.

(Hat tip Esther Riley)

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