U.S., Israeli Air Forces Begin Two Weeks of Joint Drills

The U.S. and Israeli Air Forces began their biennial Blue Flag joint exercise at the Uvda Air Base near Eilat on Monday. The drills will last two weeks and include other allied air forces. Two years ago, participating countries included the air forces of Greece, Poland, and Italy.

Blue Flag “creates a multi-national learning environment, including fictional countries, in which participants can practice planning and execution of large air force operations,” an Israeli military statement said.

The drills come amid a week of public U.S.-Israeli military cooperation among all service branches. Officers from the U.S. Army are participating in a month-long multinational training course “focusing focusing on ground tactics and ethics in urban combat,” DefenseNews reported. And a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group—the the USS Essex amphibious assault ship, USS Anchorage amphibious transport dock, and the USS Rushmore dock landing ship—are currently docked in Eilat.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the U.S.’s highest-ranking military officer, is currently in Israel as part of his first foreign visit as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and his IDF counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. The trip “reflects the important relationship the United States has with Israel,” Dunford said Sunday. “Quite frankly one of the foundational elements of that relationship is our military-to-military relationship.”

[Photo: Kevin J. Gruenwald/Wikimedia]