Israel and the United States kicked off their biennial ballistic missile defense exercise — Juniper Cobra — on Sunday, the Israeli army announced.
In addition to preparing the two militaries for the threat of a missile attack, the exercise is designed to teach the armies to collaborate more effectively, the IDF said in a statement.
Over “1,700 U.S. Service members, civilians and contractors” will take part in the multi-day drill, the eighth such exercise since the Juniper Cobra program began in 2001.
“This exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region, and EUCOM’s highest priority exercise for 2016,” said Maj.-Gen. Mark Loeben, Director of Exercises and Assessments at Headquarters for US EUCOM.
The IDF did not detail exactly what the exercise would entail. However, the army warned, “During the exercise, increased military activity may be noted.”
In 2014, the last time the exercise was held, thousands of soldiers from both armies took part in the five-day event, which included computer-assisted simulations of a missile attack.
“This exercise is a significant mile-stone in the strategic relationship between the two countries, a security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world,” Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, head of Israel’s Aerial Defense Division, said.
Juniper Cobra 2016 is slated to be larger than the last exercise, but still smaller than Austere Challenge 12, a 2012 drill involving thousands of troops from both sides, according to DefenseNews.
The US has either jointly developed or financed all three tiers in Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range) and Arrow (long range).
“Support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of US policy in the region for decades, and this exercise has, and will continue, to directly support that policy,” Loeben said.