Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran
by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO international
NATO and Israel have just concluded joint military maneuvers. Their purpose was to test the Jewish State’s integration in the U.S. Ballistic Missile-Shield in such a way as to brace Israel for an attack against Iran without fear of reprisals for the US. In exchange, Israel will become part of the naval control system in the Mediterranean. It remains to be seen, however, just how efficient the anti-missile shield will actually be.
The United States and Israel have just completed the largest joint interceptor missile exercises ever conducted by the two nations and, in terms of scope and sophistication, possibly the most comprehensive joint live-fire anti-ballistic missile drills held by any combination of countries.
Operation Juniper Cobra 10 began on October 21 and ended on November 3. During those two weeks over 1,000 U.S. and an equal number of Israeli troops participated in an integrated series of missile maneuvers whose main objective was "testing five different missile defense systems...and creating the infrastructure that would be necessary in the event that the Obama administration decides to deploy US systems here in the event of a conflict." 
The five missile interception system components employed for the exercises were:
The high-altitude Arrow 2 theater anti-ballistic missile system jointly developed by the U.S. and Israel - Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing - and supervised by the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), designed for destroying on impact short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) guided missiles with seven times the range of earlier Patriot models.
The ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System equipped with the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) and AN/SPY-1 radar with 360 degree coverage. The SM-3, which was used to shoot a U.S. satellite out of orbit in February 2008 to give an idea of its range, is to be modified for ground deployment as part of the new interceptor missile system announced by U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on September 17.
This year’s fourteen-day Juniper Cobra was "the largest joint exercise ever held by the countries,"  which included seventeen U.S. warships, and represented "the first time that all these systems have been deployed in Israel together". 
A U.S. Army colonel participating in the operation stated that it was "the first major exercise integrating THAAD and Patriot ground-to-air missiles and the ship-launched Aegis system" and added "This is the most complete air missile defense system we’ve ever done anywhere in the world." 
An Israeli new source wrote that "An unprecedented number of American generals, along with 1,400 U.S. army soldiers, are participating with top IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] brass in the high-level Juniper Cobra military exercise that one U.S. Navy commander said is aimed at ’specific threats.’" 
The last day’s drills were attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, and another major American official, James Stavridis.
The drills received limited coverage in the world press and the fact that Admiral Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), arrived in Israel on November to inspect their final stages was only reported in the Israeli press.
During the visit, Stavridis met with "the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Gantz and several other commanders. The Admiral [was] accompanied by other EUCOM commanders." 
A BBC report of November 2, "The shadow behind US-Israeli war games," quoted a U.S. Navy commodore on one of the main objectives of Juniper Cobra: "We’re here for some very specific reasons, some specific threats that the Israelis are interested in, that we’re interested in. And that’s as far as I want to go down that road."
The same report mentioned a scenario that American military personnel interviewed by the BBC wouldn’t discuss:
"Israel bombs Iranian nuclear facilities - and Iran hits back.
"In that case, Israel would definitely need the missile shield - sophisticated long-range radars and Patriot anti-missile devices - being tested in joint war games this week.
"Operation Juniper Cobra involves some 2,000 American and Israeli personnel. It is a regular event, taking place every two years, but this year speculation is more intense than ever that Israel is prepared to bomb Iran to stop its supposed nuclear weapons programme." 
Shortly before and during the course of the exercises - which were scheduled to begin on October 12 and postponed without explanation the day before, although U.S. warships were docked in the port city of Haifa - several other reports surfaced that lend credence to the above suspicion.
In late October it was announced that Raytheon Missile Systems "was awarded two contracts worth in excess of $100 million by [Israel’s] Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. to design and develop the David’s Sling Weapon System [DSWS].
"The DSWS is a joint program between the Missile Defense Agency and the Israel Missile Defense Organization. The system will defeat short-range ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets and cruise missiles in their terminal phase of flight.
"The first contract was awarded to codevelop the Stunner Interceptor, the missile component of the DSWS. Stunner is an advanced hit-to-kill interceptor designed for insertion into the DSWS and allied integrated air and missile defense systems." 
Five weeks earlier Germany delivered two U212 Dolphin-class submarines, which "can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads," to Israel ahead of schedule. They were initially to have arrived in 2010.
"Including the new subs, Israel has five German submarines - the most expensive weapon platforms in Israel’s arsenal.
"Israeli media have written that the Dolphin submarine could be key in any attack on Iran’s controversial nuclear sites." 
On October 15 the Jerusalem Post ran a story that included the following alarming information:
"Israel is planning to carry out military attacks in Iran after December, a French magazine reported....According to a report in Le Canard enchainé quoted by Israel Radio, Jerusalem has already ordered from a French food manufacturer high-quality combat rations for soldiers serving in elite units and also asked reservists of these units staying abroad to return to Israel."
The French magazine was also cited as claiming that "in a recent visit to France, IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told his French counterpart Jean-Louis Georgelin that Israel is not planning to bomb Iran, but may send elite troops to conduct activities on the ground there [which] may involve sabotage to nuclear facilities as well as assassinations of top Iranian nuclear scientists." 
On November 2 Arabic language news sites reported that "The US military has finished erecting an advanced radar system in Iraq to monitor the border with Iran, Syria and Turkey...." 
Iran and its neighbors are not the only nations in the gun sights of the layered, integrated missile killer system premiered in Israel over the past two weeks.
In addition to the "specific threats" motif that ran through reports of Juniper Cobra, another theme was repeatedly stressed: That what the exercises focused on was a trial run for a NATO missile system to encompass the entire European continent.
The American and Israeli press in unison highlighted that plan. For example:
"It’s a very prompt and sizable demonstration of what the new administration’s missile defense plans are." 
"A major air defense exercise launched with Israel this week will help the United States craft its European missile shield, a U.S. commander said....Featuring in the three weeks of maneuvers is Aegis, a U.S. Navy anti-missile system that the administration of President Barack Obama plans to deploy in the eastern Mediterranean as the first part of a missile shield for Europe announced last month." 
"A U.S. military officer said Tuesday that a major missile defense exercise staged by American and Israeli forces will help the development of a planned NATO missile shield for Europe."
The officer in question, U.S. Army Col. Tony English, explicitly stated, "We’re going to learn a lot of lessons here that will definitely apply to that later system." 
"On a wider perspective, what the Americans learn from these complex exercises will help shape a NATO defense shield for Europe." 
"Results of the Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise staged by Israeli and American forces...will be used by the US Defense Department to help formulate a new NATO missile shield for Europe, senior defense officials said....The drill was also relevant for a potential European missile shield, since the Americans would need to test their systems in different weather conditions.
"[A] new plan under consideration will include the deployment of US navy ships equipped with Aegis missile defense systems to form a front line in the Mediterranean Sea alongside a few land-based missile systems in Europe.
"The Americans are currently considering which land-based system to use. NATO is pushing for the SM-3, the missile that is the backbone of the Aegis ship-based system, but the US military will likely review other systems as well, including Israel’s Arrow and Arrow 3, development of which began recently and which is being funded by the administration. " 
In late August, weeks before the announcement that Washington was going to abandon previous plans for ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and an X-band missile radar installation in the Czech Republic, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza revealed that "Washington is now looking for alternative locations including in the Balkans, Israel and Turkey...." 
A previous article in this series explored this development before the September 17 revelations. 
In mid-October Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in Poland, still slated to be a central location for U.S. and NATO missile shield plans and to host Patriot missiles and SM-3s on ships in the Baltics, on land or both. While in Warsaw he applauded the "US move to create a sea-borne anti-missile shield" and stated:
"The new approach really provides more flexibility and, in a relatively short time, a much more effective, economical way to deal effectively with the challenge of missiles from Iran." 
Polish Radio reported that "According to a statement by the Israeli defence ministry, Barak will be having talks in Poland and the Czech Republic on a common approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and further developing defence industry contacts...." 
At the same time Israeli sources confirmed that the nation’s navy will join NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor, the eight-year-old naval surveillance and interdiction program which has comprehensively policed the entire Mediterranean Sea and all entrances into it (the Strait of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Dardanelles) under the aegis of the Alliance’s Article 5 collective military assistance provision.
Discussions have been common in leading Western circles on extending the Article 5 clause - "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all" - to NATO partners as well as to full member states. In all some 60 nations.
Israel is a case in point. And so are Iran’s neighbors in the Persian Gulf.
NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was in the United Arab Emirates on October 29-30 to attend and address an international conference called NATO-UAE Relations and the Way Forward in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative along with "NATO Permanent Representatives on the North Atlantic Council, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and high level NATO officials with government representatives, opinion leaders, academics and senior scholars from countries in the Gulf region...." 
The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was launched at the NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey in 2004 to upgrade the bloc’s Mediterranean Dialogue partners (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) to a level comparable to members of the Partnership for Peace program, used to promote ten new nations into full membership over the past decade, and to forge a military alliance with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is headquartered, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.)
An article in an Emirati newspaper featured the title "NATO will defend UAE if attacked: Rasmussen" and quoted the NATO chief on an agreement that was signed between the bloc and the UAE:
“The agreement was signed to deepen cooperation on security matters....There is another angle...that we agree with the GCC countries on the security and safety of each other and sound cooperation. So, in case anything happens, we would collectively defend it.” 
During his stay in the UAE Rasmussen also said in regards to ties with that nation that "We share an interest in helping countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to stand on their feet again, fostering stability in the Middle East more broadly, and preventing countries like Somalia and Sudan from slipping deeper into chaos....We all are seriously concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions...." 
Along with escalation of troop deployments to Iran’s eastern neighbor, Afghanistan, NATO’s expansion into the Persian Gulf is an integral component of the encirclement of Iran preparatory to any future military attack on that country.
Another aspect of the campaign to neutralize Iranian military capabilities and thus prevent retaliation in the event of a first strike assault on it was started in September of
Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of Stop NATO international.
Labels: Israel's NATO