Yesterday (13 November 2012), US European Command and the Israel Defense Forces successfully concluded Austere Challenge 2012 (AC12), a large-scale air defense exercise that included both field training and command post simulations. Beginning in late October, the exercise was aimed at improving interoperability between the US and Israeli militaries and was conducted as part of a long-standing strategic agreement between USEUCOM and the IDF to hold bi-lateral training exercises on a regular basis. AC12 was cooperatively planned for more than two years, and included approximately 3,500 US personnel with more than 1,000 deployed to Israel. A similar number of IDF personnel participated.
The exercise concluded yesterday, following a two-day live fire exercise, which was deemed a success by military observers from both USEUCOM and the IDF.
The IDF Air Defense Forces Commander, BG Shachar Shochat, said that “the success of the exercise, which drilled joint mechanisms and advanced technology, is a testament to the high level of cooperation between the two militaries”.
“Austere Challenge 12 was tremendously successful on several levels.” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, Third Air Force commander and commander of Joint Defense Forces-Israel during AC12. “We made great strides in improving our tactics and our command and control processes. Most importantly though, we reinforced our already strong US-IDF relationships. From our most senior commanders to most junior enlisted troops, we proved once again that there is clearly no substitute for training side by side with our Israeli partners.”
Franklin said that if the U.S. is ever called upon to join the IDF in the defense of Israel, U.S. forces are now even better prepared to do so.
The exercise was not in response to any current specific tensions in the region. Rather, AC12 prepared forces for a variety of threats on multiple fronts for which Israel must prepare.