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Postponing Joint US/Israeli Exercises - by Stephen Lendman
Exercises when held target Iran.
Last November, Haaretz said Washington and Israel planned holding their "largest" and "most significant" ever joint military exercise, involving over 5,000 US and Israeli troops. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro for Political-Military Affairs confirmed it.
On January 5, AP headlined "Israeli and US troops gear up for major missile defense drill after Iran maneuvers," saying:
As tensions with Iran escalate, "Austere Challenge 12" is "designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the US and Israeli forces." It follows Iranian naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.
Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said they displayed "Iran's military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey(ed) a message of peace and friendship to regional countries, and test(ed) the newest military equipment among other objectives."
On January 10, Press TV said Ground Forces commander General Ahmad Reza Poursastan announced plans to use Iran's most advanced military equipment in more planned drills.
Scheduled sometime after mid-February, weapons and ground tactics will be evaluated. Objectives include bolstering security along Iran's eastern border, assessing defense and combat capabilities, and giving young officers more experience.
Originally scheduled for April, joint US/Israeli exercises are postponed. According to an Israeli defense official, Washington wants regional tensions cooled. Media reports suggest Israel plans strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
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