Next year, the IDF and the US army will conduct the biggest and most significant joint military exercise in US-Israeli history. In his speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy this past Friday titled "Ensuring Israel's Qualitative Military Edge", Andrew Shapiro, who is the Assistant US Secretary of State Political-Military Affairs spoke about the 5,000 US and Israeli forces who will participate in the exercise to simulate Israel's ballistic missile defense system.
Shapira also promised that despite "these budget constrained times" in the US, President Barack Obama's administration would continue to provide Israel with $3 billion annual military assistance.
In his speech, which can be considered a warning to Iran and/or a call to US Jews to trust Obama, Shapiro said, "I am proud to say that this administration has taken steps to strengthen the US-Israel relationship and preserve it in a new century and era of dramatic change. As a result of the Obama Administration’s commitment, our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before.
"Yet, with such significant change in the region, we must continue to forge an ever closer relationship. As Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, one of my primary responsibilities is to preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, or QME. This is not just a top priority for me, it is a top priority for the Secretary and for the President. To ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge, we are closely analyzing the changes in the region and assessing the impact on Israel’s security.
"But let me be clear on this point: the changes that are impacting the region are prompting us to redouble our commitment to Israel’s security. This is why this Administration is not only sustaining and building upon practices established by prior administrations, but we are also undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before."
Shapiro also spoke about joint US-Israel military exercises. "Last fall we conducted the ballistic missile defense exercise: Juniper Cobra 2010. More than 1,000 US troops participated in Juniper Cobra, making it the largest US-Israeli military exercise in history. However, that accolade won’t last long. Because next year, we will combine the US European Command’s premiere annual exercise, Austere Challenge, with the annual iteration of the Juniper Cobra exercise. This will involve more than 5,000 U.S and Israeli forces simulating the ballistic missile defense of Israel, making it by far the largest and the most significant exercise in US-Israeli history."
Shapiro gave another example of defense cooperation between the two countries to "prevent and interdict the illicit trafficking of arms into Gaza. In 2009, the United States and Israel began intensive consultations to address this threat. It has become a top agenda item whenever we meet for bilateral security talks. And these efforts have since expanded into a wider international effort involving more than 10 countries and international organizations called the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative or GCASI."
It is in our national interest to support Israel
Shapiro spoke at length about US military assistance to Israel. "For Fiscal Year 2012, the Administration requested more than $3 billion in security assistance funding specifically for Israel, the largest such request in US history. These requests fulfill the Obama Administration’s commitment to implement the 2007 memorandum of understanding with Israel to provide $30 billion in security assistance over 10 years.
"Today, I can assure you that even in challenging budgetary times this Administration will continue to honor this 10-year, $30 billion commitment in future fiscal years."
In response to the direct attack on the administration for continuing to give assistance to Israel, Shapiro said, " But today, in these budget constrained times some are now asking the question why should we keep providing aid to Israel? Yes, Israel is a long time democratic ally and we share a special bond but some skeptics are questioning whether that’s enough of reason to continue to spend hard earned American tax payer dollars on Israel’s security. I can answer that skepticism directly we don’t just support Israel because of a long standing bond, we support Israel because it is in our national interests to do so.
"While our commitment to Israel’s security is rooted in our shared values and outlook, we don’t provide assistance out of charity. We provide assistance because it benefits our security.
"The United States also experiences a number of tangible benefits from our close partnership with Israel. For instance, joint exercises allow us to learn from Israel’s experience in urban warfare and counterterrorism. Israeli technology is proving critical to improving our Homeland Security and protecting our troops. One only has to look at Afghanistan and Iraq, where Israeli armor plating technology is being used on US military vehicles and innovative equipment, such as the specially designed 'Israeli bandage', is being used to treat our troops.
"The links between our two governments and US and Israeli defense companies have yielded important groundbreaking innovations that ultimately make us all safer. This involves sensors, unmanned aerial vehicle technology, surveillance equipment, and detection devices to seek out IED’s that support our forces. Additionally, if we are considering the economic impact, it is important to note that our security assistance to Israel also helps support American jobs, since the vast majority of security assistance to Israel is spent on American-made goods and services.
"We are also improving the process through which defense sales to Israel are notified to Congress. Israel will soon join some of our closest partners, including NATO members, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, as a country subject to an expedited Congressional Notification process. This also puts higher thresholds on the value of transactions that need to be notified to Congress. This means that the smaller routine sales and purchases that occur between allies can happen more quickly."
Shapira reviewed in detail the cooperation between the US and Israel, including the development of anti-missile defense systems, from the Arrow-3 interceptor to David’s Sling. He even mentioned that many Israeli officers study in US military schools, which allow them to, "build life-long relationships with their US military counterparts." The full text of the speech by Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, is available at: "Ensuring Israel's Qualitative Military Edge" by Andrew Shapiro
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 6, 2011
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