Joint U.S.-Israel Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018 Concludes


Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018, a joint U.S.-Israel ballistic missile defense exercise, formally concluded March 15 after several weeks of robust training between U.S. and Israeli military personnel on shared capabilities and interoperability via computer simulations and live scenarios.

Marines unload vehicles from a landing craft.
Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit unload assault reconnaissance vehicles from an air-cushioned landing craft in Tel Aviv, Israel, as part of Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018, March 7, 2018. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Michael McNabb
Marines unload vehicles from a landing craft.
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Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit unload assault reconnaissance vehicles from an air-cushioned landing craft in Tel Aviv, Israel, as part of Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018, March 7, 2018. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Michael McNabb

Planning for the ninth biennial exercise began in late 2016, U.S. European Command officials said. Activities and preparations associated with the exercise began in late January and continued through March 21. The exercise involved more than 2,500 U.S. personnel and about 2,000 Israeli personnel.

“It was an honor to lead this team of true professionals through completion of U.S. European Command’s top priority exercise for 2018,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, 3rd Air Force commander, who also serves as the commander for the deployable Joint Task Force Israel.

“Juniper Cobra 2018 proved to be an incredibly challenging and realistic scenario, requiring trust, communication and collaboration with our Israeli partners,” Clark said. “The relationships built over the last two weeks help bolster our interoperability and pave the path for future engagements and exercises.”

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians took part in a wide array of joint training opportunities in various locations throughout Israel, ranging from mass casualty response to ballistic missile defense.

Concepts to Carry Forward

“This exercise gave us, as a Marine unit, an opportunity to integrate, train and work bilaterally with the Israel Defense Force,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Garrett Johnson, a company commander for Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “I think the concepts that we were able to learn throughout this exercise are something that we’re going to carry forward and be able to apply in the future. It was definitely something that benefited us and will make us stronger as we go to the next training environment.”

The exercise was able to achieve its goal of improving coordination between the U.S. and Israeli militaries by enabling participants to learn from each other’s knowledge and experience, officials said.

“The deep bond shared by Israel and the United States is based on shared values and interests,” said Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, head of the Israel Defense Forces operations directorate. “Our two democracies share core values and complement each other in operational and military cooperation.”

Juniper Cobra 2018 was cooperatively planned over the last year and a half and, though driven by the overall situation in the Middle East, the exercise was not related to any specific real-world events, Eucom officials said.

Steadfast Relationship

Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Eucom commander, traveled to Israel March 9-11 to meet with U.S. and Israeli leadership and troops participating in the exercise, and was pleased with the coordination and teamwork.

“The U.S. and Israel have a steadfast military-to-military relationship built on trust developed over decades of cooperation,” Scaparrotti said. “We value the relationships we have with our IDF counterparts, and we will continue to work alongside them to promote stability throughout the region.”

The exercise also included visits from other U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s deputy chief of the General Staff, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, U.S. 6th Fleet commander, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, Israel Air Force commander, and U.S. Navy Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer Crispian D. Addington, Eucom’s senior enlisted leader.

“I would just like to say thank you the troops,” Addington said during his visit with exercise participants in Israel. “You are doing a phenomenal job, and you continued to build on the teamwork and partnership that was started in 2001 with this exercise, taking it to new levels.”