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U.S. Cancels Joint Missile War Games With Israel

u.s. israel military exercise

Previous U.S.-Israel joint military exercise

Israeli media is full of a major news story: that a major war games exercise planned for April which involved thousands of U.S. troops joining the IDF for missile exercises simulating an Iranian attack on Israel have been cancelled.  This would’ve been among the most elaborate exercise the two countries had ever implemented.  It would’ve involved 3,000 U.S. troops, Patriot missile batteries and naval warships and brought a U.S. admiral to Israel to witness them.  The Jerusalem Post reports:

The drill was supposed to include the simulation of various missile defense scenarios with the objective of creating a high level of interoperability so that, if needed, US missile defense systems would be able to deploy in Israel and work with local defense systems during a future conflict.

The official version is that the exercise has been postponed till this coming summer.  But it seems clear that they were cancelled.  Now the question is why.

Did the U.S. cancel them to show displeasure to Israel?  And if so, why?  Does Obama know something about Israeli intentions we don’t know?  Are plans underway to strike Iran?  Is Obama seeking to show his displeasure?  Or is he trying to soothe Iran by not going through with a highly provocative military exercise which would’ve placed thousands of U.S. troops in the heart of Israel as a show of solidarity with Israel in its crusade against Iran?  Another related option being suggested in the Israeli media is that the U.S. is signalling its displeasure over the latest Iranian assassination by the Mossad.  If this is the case, then the U.S. is saying that such black ops programs are a sideshow that achieve little and could serve as the catalyst to send the entire region into cataclysm.

Maariv adds that the reason involved:

“broad IDF operational considerations, including military preparations for achieving complex objectives.”

I don’t know if this means that Israel wanted them cancelled because it was preparing to attack Iran.  Or because the IDF wants Iran to believe this.

Further, Naval Today reports that the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is steaming from Thailand to join the two carrier groups already patrolling off the Iranian coast.  Again, the question is–is this designed to pressure Iran and show it we mean business, up to and including an attack on its nuclear facilities?  Some observers expecting a U.S. attack presume that in preparation we would require force redundancy in case Iran succeeded in disabling or sinking a U.S. carrier.  Or is it designed to tell Israel that we will prevent an Israeli attack?

In addition, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey is due in Israel Thursday to continue pressure on Israel to tell us what its plans are concerning Iran.  Or if Israel has already decided to attack, presumably he would be consulting with them about what would be involved and letting them know what the U.S. would or would not allow to happen.

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  • ProudZionist777 January 15, 2012, 6:55 PM

    I’m sure that there are many reasons the United States has decided to temporarily cancel the war drill.

    According to Ynetnews.com’s Ron Ben-Yishai,(my favorite Israeli journalist), the decision to delay the drill is also related to financial concerns. Washington has cut its defense budget for 2012 by $450 billion dollars – a move which is aimed at helping the US tackle its national debt, which has affected the country’s credit rating.

    • Richard Silverstein January 15, 2012, 8:50 PM

      Ben Yishai’s reason is bogus & every other Israeli publication is denying it. When we plan a war game exercise the money for it is budgeted. There’s no such thing as cancelling something for budgetary reasons when the funding is already in the budget.

  • ginger January 15, 2012, 6:59 PM

    If the US has two or three carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf and Israel sneak attacks Iran – Iran certainly possesses enough firepower (Sunburn, Yakhont, and indigenous missiles) to both sink these carrier groups as well as shut down the Hormuz Straits

    There will be blood on Israel’s hands if it attacks Iran without giving the US the several days notice necessary to deploy outside the Persian Gulf

    An Isareli sneak attack upon Iran is essentially an Israeli sneak attack on the US Fifth Fleet and any other carrier groups unlucky to be in the Gulf and expected to get a severe Sunburn when the Iranian missiles start flying after an Israel or Israeli/US attack

    • rfjk January 16, 2012, 11:55 AM

      There’s going to be no Israeli sneak attack. The JCS Chairman’s mission to Israel is laying down the law that Obama has had other principles of his cabinet do previously. Even Bush felt compelled to collar our rogue ally on occasion.

      Sans the Israelis, everyone else knows a war in the gulf will be of unimaginable, disastrous global consequence. It would not surprise me that beefing up the naval task force in the gulf is a warning to both Israel and Iran.

      And don’t think for one moment US Admirals are blind to the lethality of modern, anti-ship missiles. Or that the Iranians are stupid enough to waste their advantage in trying to sink a capital asset of a US naval task force.

    • Aonee January 16, 2012, 4:40 PM

      What if Israel attacks Iran unilaterally. will Iran think twice before using their sunburn missiles on US carrier groups in the persian gulf?

      If US insists that they are here to protect the economic interest by keeping the straits of hormuz from being closed by Iran.Would iran dare to take on US navy?

      • rfjk January 17, 2012, 6:37 AM

        The battle area will be the littoral environment near and within the Straits of Hormuz, not the Persian or Gulf of Oman. The Iranians will target the tankers transiting the narrow, navigable passages, which will become natural ‘kill zones’ in the straits.

        This will force US naval task forces to deploy within the approaches to the straights to effectively support the convoy escorts defending the tankers, not ‘over the horizon’ somewhere off the coasts of Arabia or the Indian Ocean where they’ll be useless like tits on a boar.

        That’s when affairs start getting cheeky and where big targets like aircraft carriers are vulnerable to cloud attacks by anti-ship missiles.

  • Igor January 16, 2012, 12:54 AM

    The reason for the cancellation I’ve seen in the paper this morning was “not to hurt Iran’s feelings”.
    After that, someone on the radio said it wasn’t actually cancelled but postponed (indefinitely?).

  • rfjk January 16, 2012, 11:35 AM

    Due to multiple strategic disasters of the first decade of the 21st century, the US is greatly weakened across the board and in a policy posture of retrenchment. This isn’t an opinion or a guess, its a fact that crushing debt, economic woes, pentagon cuts, force demobilization and a strategic shift of focus from Europe & the Middle East to Asia underline.

    The US is buying time by playing games with Israel and Iran, an ally it can’t trust and a competitor that can gore the US badly before its killed. The long term prospect is US realignment with Arab & Muslim countries in a new M/E, acquiescence to a nuclear Iran and end of the US/Israeli special relationship.

    19 March 2003 was not only a strategic disaster in the making for the US, it was by proxy also the same for Israel. How much that country and its people suffer will depend upon when, if ever, they fully realize it.

  • Antifascist January 16, 2012, 11:43 AM

    Why are we presuming that the United States is “displeased” with Israel? Several presidential findings, issued by the Bush and Obama administrations have authorized precisely the type of covert operations presently being carried out: Stuxnet, assassinations, terror bombings, etc.

    Although the United States has cancelled “Austere Challenge 12″ drills, other actions, including the deployment of 15,000 troops to Kuwait, advanced radar systems in Israel and Turkey, multibillion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, as well as strengthening carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf, indicate that if anything, Washington’s war plans have accelerated.

    While it may be a convenient tactic during an election year for the Obama government to portray Israel as an out-of-control actor, the United States is calling the shots. Certainly, one can reasonably argue that all states act according to their (perceived) self-interests, in matters of war which would place U.S. military assets at risk, Israel won’t move without American authorization.

    In my view, a so-called “dial-down” of tensions by cancelling the exercise is a feint designed to lull the Iranians into believing the U.S. is not preparing for war. We’ll see, but don’t count on it since the EU, firmly toeing the U.S. line will in all likelihood agree on a total oil embargo aimed at cratering Iran’s economy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to analyze how that will be viewed in Tehran.

    • rfjk January 16, 2012, 12:46 PM

      “…the United States is calling the shots…”
      Neocons, multilateralists, realists, liberal interventionists, whoever or whatever the foreign policy persuasion all opine they wish Obama’s strategizing was equal or more to his sermonizing. To a man and women they all fall far short of your “presumption” that America “is calling the shots.”

      My presumption is that Obama is flim-flaming them all. And my principle proofs I find in the hysterical fears of zealous Zionists who fear a second term Obama. POTUS came out of the gates strong, too strong, but realized soon enough that a first term is all about learning the job, minimizing the FUBAR’s and thereby securing that prized second term.