SUN 21 - 10 - 2018
Date: Mar 14, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
U.S., Israeli troops train together in mock Mideast village
ZEELIM MILITARY BASE, Israel: The Israeli military hosted U.S. Marines this week for an urban combat drill in a mock-up of a generic Middle East village, sharing know-how and signaling the allies’ shared interests as their leaders close ranks on a host of regional issues. “We are willing to work and train together, and if God wills it, if we ever need to be side by side, then we will,” Lt.-Col. Marcus Mainz of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit told Reuters at Israel’s Zeelim base.

His troops joined Israeli special forces regiments to practice battle formation, helicopter deployment and medical evacuations in a mock-up village in the desert, complete with Arabic graffiti and a fake mosque.

The maneuvers were part of a wider, biennial joint air defense exercise known as Juniper Cobra, which this year took place amid heightened Israeli and U.S. concern over the missile arsenal of Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Mainz said his troops had learned from the Israelis’ experiences in fighting Hamas in Gaza, and had in turn shared tips from U.S. warfronts.

“They teach them what to see when they were either in the Gaza Strip or somewhere else on the battlefield, for us in Afghanistan and Iraq, and teach that young soldier what to look for,” he said.

“And what happens is they start getting excited and they are talking about ‘I learned this here,’ ‘I learned that there.’”

Israel, in cooperation with the U.S., has developed a multilayer system of missile defense. This includes the “Arrow” system, which can intercept long-range missiles before they enter the atmosphere, “David’s Sling” for medium-range threats and the “Iron Dome,” which has been successful at intercepting short-range rocket fire. Israel also uses the U.S.-made “Patriot” system.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has boosted its already strong support for Israel – including by recognizing occupied Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move that angered many Muslims and Arabs who back the Palestinian claim on the city.

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