Strategic Relationship Breaks New Ground

By Charles Perkins
AIPAC’s Senior Military Analyst

On May 3, the United States hosted Israeli officials for the 29th meeting of the bilateral Joint Political Military Group (JPMG) in Washington. In addition to emphasizing their mutual commitment to promoting peace, security and stability in the Middle East, the two sides conducted a series of candid exchanges on various regional threats. First among these was an assessment of Russian technology transfers to Iran. The two sides agreed that Moscow had made little progress in controlling the ongoing flow of technical assistance to Tehran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The officials also engaged in an unprecedented exchange about Israel’s concern over Egypt’s growing modern U.S.-made arsenal and its narrowing qualitative balance with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

In addition to the JPMG, another bilateral strategic body--the "Policy Advisory Group" (PAG)-met in Washington at the same time to discuss issues related to joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs such as the Arrow system and Boost Phase Intercept concept.

American & Israeli Jet-Jocks Match Up in Mock-Battle

On the other side of the Atlantic, Israeli and U.S. fighter pilots began joint training and conducting simulated aerial combat for the first time this Spring. Squadrons of U.S. Navy F-18 and F-14 jets and American F-16 aircraft based in Europe flew to Israel for week-long combined exercises, termed "Dissimilar Air Combat Training." This would enable each side’s pilots to learn more effective combat tactics from their counterparts.

Plans are also underway to expand annual training by U.S. Marines and Army troops in Israel to include war games with the IDF. This would enable both sides to sharpen their military skills.

U.S. forces have utilized Israeli defense facilities for many years as terrain and airspace for military exercises. But March’s "mock battles" between American air units and the Israel Air Force bring U.S.-Israeli military interaction to a new, enhanced level.

Source: AIPAC, Near East Report, (June 28, 1999)