US and Israel to Kick Off Biggest Joint Military Drill Ever

The USS Hopper (DDG 70) equipped with the Aegis integrated weapons system launching a missile. (Dept. of Defense photo)

US and Israel to Kick Off Biggest Joint Military Drill Ever

'Exercise Austere Challenge' not about sending Iran a message, says US general

U.S. and Israeli forces are set to kick off their biggest joint military exercise to date, U.S. and Israeli officials announced Wednesday

The three-week exercise dubbed "Exercise Austere Challenge," originally scheduled for spring, involves 3,500 Americans and 1,000 Israeli forces and will begin in Israel next week.

The weapons used will be the U.S. Patriot anti-missile systems and an Aegis ballistic missile defense ship while Israel tests its Iron Dome and Arrow 2 systems.

Israel and the U.S. denied that the joint exercises were targeted at sending any specific country a message.

"This exercise is purely about improving our combined U.S.-Israeli capabilities," U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, the senior U.S. commander for the exercise, told reporters on Wednesday. "It's about military teamwork. It is not related to national elections nor any perceived tensions in the Middle East. We are military professionals coming together to train for a defensive mission."

Danger Room's Spencer Ackerman writes that the exercise is to "to practice shooting Iranian missiles out of the sky. Only neither country wants to say the exercise is about either Iran or presidential politics. "

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.