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Juniper Cobra: U.S. Deploys Troops to Israel in Preparation of War with Iraq

(January 14, 2003)

An American liaison team deployed to Tel Aviv this weekend is responsible for coordinating efforts and intelligence between the Pentagon, the IDF, and American forces. Major General Charles Simpson is the chief liaison officer for the U.S. Army and he will meet with IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon soon to arrange for the details of this joint project.

A joint air force exercise, the Juniper Cobra, will take place this week between Israeli and the American Patriot artillery in the Negev and radar units from the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Noble Dina, an anti-submarine warfare exercise, will be executed with the combined efforts of the Israel Navy and the Sixth Fleet.

Although all of these exercises were planned in advance of the expected war in Iraq, the exercises will help prepare the two countries' militaries for warfare. A senior Israeli defense source quoted in Haaretz said that the exercises "raise the level of preparedness to that of a possible transition from exercise to operational situation. It's good for the Americans, and good for us as well."

American soldiers arrived in Israel to also work with anti-missile defenses, both the U.S.-made Patriot and the Arrow, developed by both Israel and the U.S. On January 15, Israel moved to a higher than usual state of alert, codenamed "Red Hail." According to an advisor to Ariel Sharon, Zalman Shoval, this alert was planned before the looming war in Iraq was close and does not mean that Israel has inside information on when a U.S. attack will be.

In addition, the U.S. sailed an aircraft carrier, the Harry Truman, into the Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft should allow U.S. planes to reach Iraqi targets by flying over Israeli and Jordanian territory. Israel has permitted the use of its air zones but Jordan has yet to grant the U.S. permission to fly over its territory..

U.S. military units will stay in Israel until the end of a war with Iraq.

Israel's civilian preparedness for war includes the distribution of gas masks and TV and radio instructions on what to do in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

Source: Aluf Benn, "Israel, U.S. kick off liaison operations ahead of Iraq war." Haaretz.( January 14, 2003);
Ramit Plushnick-Masti, "U.S. Soldiers in Israel for Maneuvers," Associated Press, (January 14, 2003)