American and Israeli forces launched operation “Juniper Cobra” on Tuesday, a two-week joint military training exercise bringing together more than 4,500 service personnel from the IDF and the United States military’s European Command (USEUCOM).
The Marine Corps Times reported  that the U.S. dispatched over 2,500 service members to the training, including Marines and naval personnel. In addition, over 2,000 IDF soldiers are taking part in the exercise, making Juniper Cobra 2018 the largest joint military training between the U.S. and Israel this year.
“Israel and the United States are strong allies, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything our Navy-Marine Corps team will accomplish with them to increase our capabilities and build our relationship,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.
“I know this will be an outstanding experience for both nations and an excellent chance for our teams work together and demonstrate our commitment to each other.”
“The bilateral training opportunity builds upon a strong and enduring military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and Israel – a relationship built on trust developed over decades of cooperation,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, the 26th MEU commanding officer.
The exercise comes amid heightened tensions in the region with the Syrian civil war continuing to rage across the border. Iran and Hezbollah, allied with the Assad regime, have started their military build-up on Israel’s northern front.
The joint combat training will help the U.S. and Israel to better coordinate their efforts in confronting these complex threats.
The exercise also simulates a scenario in which U.S. troops would be deployed to Israel to assist the IDF in conflict. Marines will be deployed to various locations and at times in the vicinity of civilian populations throughout Israel during the training.
[Photo: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa / U.S. 6th Fleet]