Israel, U.S. holding major air defense drill

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel and the United States are holding a major air defense drill in Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. European Command launched the exercise, called Juniper Cobra 2016, on Sunday to improve cooperation between them. The exercise is held about every two years and lasts for several days. This is the eighth time the drill has been held since 2001.

During the exercise, over 1,700 U.S. service members, civilians and contractors will join with the IDF in addressing computer-simulated challenges that Israel could face, the IDF said in a statement.

Planning for the exercise began over a year ago and is not related to any specific events or developments in the region, according to the IDF.

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“Support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of U.S. policy in the region for decades, and this exercise has, and will continue, to directly support that policy,” said Maj .Gen. Mark Loeben, director of exercises and assessments at U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “This exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region, and EUCOM’s highest priority exercise for 2016.”

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