Various news outlets are reporting that the U.S. is dramatically scaling back joint exercises with Israel, something Israel perceives to be a sign of distrust and an effort (again) to create distance between itself and America:
Seven months ago, Israel and the United States postponed a massive joint military exercise that was originally set to go forward just as concerns were brimming that Israel would launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The exercise was rescheduled for late October, and appears likely to go forward on the cusp of the U.S. presidential election. But it won’t be nearly the same exercise. Well-placed sources in both countries have told TIME that Washington has greatly reduced the scale of U.S. participation, slashing by more than two-thirds the number of American troops going to Israel and reducing both the number and potency of missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise.
“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” a senior Israeli military official tells TIME.
The reductions are striking. Instead of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops originally trumpeted for Austere Challenge 12, as the annual exercise is called, the Pentagon will send only 1,500 service members, and perhaps as few as 1,200. Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not. Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a “maybe,” according to officials in both militaries.
Those of us who have been watching the Commander in Chief (i.e., Obama) aren’t surprised by this directive. After all, he stated a long time ago that he intended to create a bit of daylight between America and Israel, and that (sadly) is one of the few promises he’s kept.
What I don’t know, though, is how much a decision about joint military exercises originates in the White House and how much originates in the Pentagon. That ignorance leads me to a few questions:
- How do the guys and gals in the American military feel about Israel?
- Has the Navy forgiven Israel for the U.S.S. Liberty incident?
- Do our troops believe that Israel is a comrade in the fight against radical Islam or do they believe the Democrat line that Israel’s very existence is the sole reason Islamists are radicalized?
- And finally, back to my original confusion, when a decision like this happens, one that is a slap in the face to an ally, does it come from the White House or the Pentagon?
I would truly appreciate your input on this subject, as I have no information on it whatsoever.