US, Israel hold largest ever joint military drill
Johannesburg: The US and Israel have collaborated for one of the largest joint military drills as they simulated rocket attacks in the bilateral air-defence exercise named Austere Challenge 2012.
It comes at a time when Israel and the US have openly debated the merits of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, and the US support for Israel has emerged as a central issue in the upcoming American Presidential Elections.
About 1,000 US troops who are participating alongside a similar number of Israeli troops in Israel in the three-week exercise, say they are practising their ability to work together to thwart a variety of threats that face Israel. An additional 2,500 US troops based in Europe and the Mediterranean are also involved, News24 reports.
According to the report, US soldiers also said they practiced a response to a chemical and biological attack on a joint Israeli-American military convoy, in which soldiers rubbed a charcoal-like substance to decontaminate the imagined chemical and biological by-products from Army vehicles and personnel.
In this week's Presidential debate, US President Barack Obama cited the joint drill, calling it a testament to the strong military co-operation between the two countries, the report said.
The exercise is taking place at the same time as Israeli soldiers are battling Gaza militants, who fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel, it added.