Monday, November 9, 2009

US Generals Flood Israel for Exercise against ‘Specific Threats'

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu for IsraelNN via Information Clearing House

An unprecedented number of American generals, along with 1,400 U.S. army soldiers, are participating with top IDF brass in the high-level Juniper Cobra military exercise that one U.S. Navy commander said is aimed at “specific threats.” Public affairs officials interrupted the naval commander in order to divert the conversation from the scenario of Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and defending itself from a counter-attack.

One senior IDF source told BBC magazine, “I've never seen so many American generals.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, along with the commander of the U.S. force in Europe and U.S. ambassador to Israel James Cunningham attended the three-week exercise on Tuesday. It is one of the largest-ever joint training drills and is fueling speculation that the United States is preparing for the worst while hoping for the best concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

Former IDF General Yitzchak Ben-Israel told BBC, “[On] one thing we are serious: We will not let Iran have a nuclear bomb." He said that the joint drill, which is held annually, "is not a bluff’ but is aimed at pressuring Iran to back down from its refusal to cooperate with international authorities on its program to enrich uranium, a key element for a nuclear weapon."

"But if Iran will not be pressed, if Iran continues to insist that it has the right to go and enrich uranium as much as it wants, then someone will have to use force.” he added.

“Overall, the goal is to ensure peace in the region, and maybe even farther from this region,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. “I think the IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces are creating a new path, and the goal is to defend Israel. This exercise, unique and large in scale, is an expression of the meaningful relations between Israel and the United States"

The exercise included a live-fire component and a multi-layered active defense system.

As the joint drill was taking place, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the U.S. Congress, "Whoever threatens Israel also threatens us."