U.S. joint chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey arrives in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey arrived in Israel to oversee a joint missile defense drill.

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Dempsey arrived in Israel late Sunday; on Monday he was greeted by an Israeli honor guard. He met with Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak and was scheduled to meet on Monday with his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz

Israeli and U.S. troops began their largest-ever joint aerial defense exercise Oct. 21. Austere Challenge 12 is part of a training exercise designed to increase military cooperation between the United States and Israel. Its planning began more than two years ago and is not a response to specific events in the Middle East, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The exercise is scheduled to last three weeks and involve more than 3,500 American service personnel and 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Part of the exercise reportedly will involve live fire.

Of the exercise’s $38 million price tag, the United States will pay $30 million and Israel $8 million.

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