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U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation: Advanced Urban Combat Training Facility

(Updated October 2013)

In May 2001, Israeli and American officials broke ground for a $266 million Israeli military facility that is being built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and paid for by the United States, as per the terms of an agreement signed in 1998.

In June 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers finished construction of the 7.4 square mile fake city in the heart of the Negev desert that Israel will use for simulated urban combat training, often together with Marines.

"This is something developed by us in cooperation with the U.S. Army; we intend for it to become a valuable center of knowledge that will also benefit our American allies and other friends," said Brig. Gen. Uzi Moskovich, commander of Israel's National Ground Training Center.

The training facility, located in the southern Negev desert, replaced an old training site in the West Bank.

Martin Indyk, the American ambassador to Israel in 2001, called the project a symbol "of America's continuing commitment to Israel's security."

In August 2011, a group of 50 specialized Marines trained for two weeks at the Urban Warfare Training facility in southern Israel, mostly working on close-quarter battle. "[The Marines] have been trained to re-capture buildings and to clear out terrorist threats inside of a building, but they've never been trained on how to you know clear a building, and move to another one clear it and move to another one," Marine Platoon Commander Mike Jevons said.

In August 2013, Givati Brigade Special Forces conducted a joint exercise with units from the Marine Corps to examine various techniques of urban warfare, to teach the IDF approach to urban warfare and to learn about the Marines’ operational experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. The exercise took place over three days at the Urban Warfare Training. The purpose of the exercise was for each unit to learn from the operational experience of the other in fighting in urban terrain. 

Sources: New York Times (May 17, 2001); Jerusalem Post, (April 20, 2005); IDF Spokesperson's Office; Marine Corps Times (June 24, 2007); CBN News (August 17, 2011); IDF Blog (August 15, 2013)