The US European Command (USEUCOM) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will participate in a bilateral exercise, code-named “Juniper Cobra,” in February 2016 as part of the regular training cycle. “This exercise is designed to improve cooperation and coordination between militaries,” the IDF Spokesperson’s office said in an email statement Saturday night.
The exercise has been in the planning since late 2014, according to the statement, with the scenario being a simulation to provide training in ballistic missile defense (BMD).
“These exercises, which are in the context of a long-standing strategic partnership, are planned in advance as part of a routine training cycle designed to improve cooperation. Such exercises contribute to the IDF’s qualitative military edge,” the IDF statement concluded.
“Juniper Cobra” is all about the Iranian menace. A five-day combined military exercise of Israel and the United States, it is built to provide training in case of a ballistic missile attack from Iran. The exercise was initiated in 2001 and is conducted once every two years.
In 2012 the exercise was cancelled in an attempt to reduce tensions with Iran. But toward the end of that year a similar Israeli-American exercise, called Austere Challenge, was conducted, with the IDF and the US Army training together in intercepting incoming targets.
In 2015, IsraelDefense and Makor Rishon reported that one consequence of the bitter dispute between Israel and the White House on the Iran agreement was Israel’s refusal to take part in “Juniper Cobra 2016.”
It was an unprecedented Israeli move, especially since in previous times the IDF had gone out of its way to take part in all joint exercises, and in 2012 complained bitterly that it was being kept out of a key NATO summit meeting in Chicago because of Turkey’s objection. In retrospect, the leaks regarding staying out of the joint exercises appear to have been Israel’s way of letting the White House know it was feeling betrayed over the Iran nuclear deal. The Americans, for their part, insisted they were eager to cooperate with Israel.