US Navy battleship arrives in Israel to train with IDF

“Israel and the United States are strong allies, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything our Navy-Marine Corps team will accomplish,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, commanding officer of the USS Iwo Jima.

By: World Israel News Staff

The US Navy Wasp-Class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima arrived off the coast of Israel on Tuesday to participate in the Juniper Cobra 2018 (JC18) air defense exercise.

The ship is manned by 1,400 Marines, 1,100 Navy sailors, 25 aircraft and three hovercrafts.

The American troops are in Israel to participate in a massive joint Israel-US air defense exercise.

Juniper Cobra is a US-Israel military drill, which occurs every two years and tests the nations’ joint response to rocket attacks. The exercise is designed to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the two militaries,  promote bilateral learning and enhance aerial defense capabilities.

US Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, the commanding officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) which will participate in the exercise, stated that “the bilateral training opportunity builds upon a strong and enduring military-to-military relationship between the US and Israel, a relationship built on trust developed over decades of cooperation.”

This is the ninth time the “Juniper Cobra” exercise has taken place in Israel since 2001. This will be the largest IDF and USEUCOM joint exercise taking place this year.

Over 2,500 US troops, who are routinely based in Europe, will be participating in the exercise, alongside 1,400 Israeli Aerial Defense troops, logistics units, medical forces, and additional IDF units.

The exercise simulates a scenario in which US forces deploy to Israel in order to aid the IDF Aerial Defense forces in the event of an attack on the Jewish state.

Together, they will perform computerized simulations of a variety of rocket threat scenarios in different regions. The simulations include the use of the ArrowIron Dome, Patriot, and David’s Sling defense systems. The David’s Sling System was recently declared operational in April.

While JC18 focuses on improving combined ballistic missile defense, it also allows US and Israel to increase interoperability among its different military forces.

“Israel and the United States are strong allies, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything our Navy-Marine Corps team will accomplish to increase our capabilities and build our relationship,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, commanding officer of the Iwo Jima, which serves as the flagship of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

“This is the first exercise of our deployment and everything we’ve done so far is to prepare for opportunities like this,” said O’Brien. “I know this will be an outstanding experience for both nations and an excellent chance for our teams to work together and demonstrate our commitment to each other.”

Although the Iwo Jima and the 26th MEU will not participate directly in the ballistic missile defense portion of the exercise, they will participate in other events, including bilateral training between the IDF and US Marines.

The Iwo Jima, homeported in Mayport, Florida, is conducting naval operations in the US 6th Fleet area of operations.

The 26th MEU is deployed at sea to conduct maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation, while also providing a forward expeditionary naval presence in Europe and the Middle East