JERUSALEM, Israel — U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) successfully concluded Juniper Cobra 16 with a closing ceremony and parade, marking the end of the eighth biennial exercise, March 3.
The exercise was an eight-day computer-assisted ballistic missile defense exercise designed to improve coordination between the U.S. and Israeli militaries and continues to be part of a long-standing strategic agreement between the forces to hold bilateral training on a regular basis.
"EUCOM and the IDF enjoy a strong partnership built over decades of cooperation and trust. I deeply respect the leadership of the IDF and am very proud of our mil-to-mil relationship and hard work on both sides that has solidified our close partnership," said Lt. Gen. William B. Garrett, USEUCOM deputy commander.
Throughout the exercise, both nations' service members were tested on a variety of computer-assisted simulations ranging from ballistic missile defense, crisis resupply, foreign disaster response and foreign humanitarian assistance as part of EUCOM's largest exercise of 2016.
"The purpose of the exercise is to improve interoperability by exercising our active missile defense, air defense forces and combined ability to defend against missile attacks," said Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander.
The American contingent comprised of more than 1,700 U.S. total force service members and civilians working alongside approximately 2,000 of their IDF counterparts.
"Our presence and participation in this exercise increases our military readiness, but just as importantly, signals our resolve to support our Israeli partner and strive for peace in the Middle East," said Maj. Gen. Mark Loeben, USEUCOM exercises and assessments director.
The exercise also included visits from U.S. and Israeli leaders; to include Israeli Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Israeli Defense Force deputy commander, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Garrett, U.S. European Command deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.
"Juniper Cobra 16, a premier exercise for our nations, is vital to furthering this partnership and illustrates our common goals in the region," Garrett said.
JC16 was planned for approximately a year and a half involving personnel from USEUCOM and IDF. The planners were pleased with the results and the exercise enabled participants to learn from each other's knowledge and experience.
"To all 1,700 total force soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, civilians and contractors. Thank you for your selfless work and an incredible job well done. I'm very proud to be part of this team. Thank you to the planners and white cell who ran the exercise and to our gracious Israeli hosts. The U.S. remains fully committed to the security of Israel and ready, tomorrow, next months or in JC18," Ray concluded.