The United States and Israel hold the Juniper Cobra joint military exercise regularly, but don’t think that cooperation has become stale. Over the weekend, the top military commander of NATO and the head of the US European Command (USEUCOM) decided to visit Israel during the exercise to emphasize the importance of the US-Israel partnership to American troops, and in so doing sent a message in a day when Israel is threatened by a variety of enemies across the Middle East.
“The US is deeply committed to the defense of Israel,” US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti said in a USEUCOM press release on the visit. “We will continue to work alongside them to promote stability throughout the region, not only for the purposes of this exercise, but in the event of any real-world contingency.”
A US Army private quoted in the press release certainly caught the message behind the NATO commander’s visit. “To have General Scaparrotti make time to speak with us, shows us how important this exercise truly is,” said US Army PV2 Jacob Sharp. “It really reinforces the importance of us being here, and our relationship with Israel.”
The Israelis appreciated the meaning of the visit as well. “This visit is part of the close relationship between the US and Israel and its armies, based on shared values and interests,” tweeted the IDF Spokesperson on Friday.
According to Tweets from the IDF Spokesperson and the USEUCOM press release, Scaparrotti’s visit included time with Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, commander of the Israeli Air Force Major General Amikam Norkin, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and others
Ambassador Friedman tweeted after their meeting on Sunday, “A great honor to join EUCOM and NATO Commander, Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, in observing #JuniperCobra2018—the joint exercises between the US Military and Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the defense of Israel against a missile attack. America at its best! #USIsraelPartnership.”
The US and Israel have long held a close relationship, which includes Juniper Cobra as well as joint missile defense research and development, shared counterterrorism intelligence and billions of dollars in US military aid. Beyond that, the two countries see their similar values as further strengthening that bond in the face of radical extremists in the Middle East and beyond.
That cooperation is noticeable according to the NATO military leader. Said Scaparrotti in the US press release, “I am pleased with the great teamwork and coordination that has taken place to make this [Juniper Cobra] exercise a success. We value the relationships we have with our IDF counterparts.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 11, 2018)