Each year, various branches and levels of both countries’ militaries hold numerous joint training exercises in the United States and Israel. They learn from one another, improve how they work together and train for combat situations in diverse geographical locations. Each training mission provides an opportunity to develop joint military solutions for a variety of potential scenarios.
From October to November 2012, the United States and Israel jointly participated in their largest joint military exercise ever, codenamed Austere Challenge 12. The three-week exercise involved over 3,500 American and Israeli soldiers as part of a long-term strategy of increasing bilateral training between the two nations. According to the American commander in charge of the mission, the exercises reinforced already strong relations between the two nations’ militaries. “There is clearly no substitute for training side by side with our Israeli partners,” he said.
A centerpiece of the interaction between the two militaries has been combined missile defense training, including the biannual Juniper Cobra exercise. In this maneuver, U.S. and Israeli forces practice cooperative tactics to counter the growing threat from ballistic missiles and long-range rockets. This exercise includes practice runs of both the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome rocket defense systems.
The Israeli and American navies also have a strong tradition of cooperation. The Reliant Mermaid drill has been held every year since 1998, allowing the U.S., Israel and other regional allies to coordinate search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The exercise also allows for testing naval missile defense systems that can protect Israeli civilians.