Americans and Israelis Team Up for Missile Defense Practice

American and Israeli troops are practicing ballistic missile defense and collaborative crisis response in this year’s iteration of the Juniper Falcon exercise.

“Juniper Falcon 21 is a demonstration of our strong commitment and long-standing military relationship with Israel,” Lt. Gen. Steven Basham, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa deputy commander and Joint Task Force-Israel commander, said in a release. “Built over years of cooperation, our deliberate and strategic partnership allows us to continually develop the interoperability necessary to maintain and enhance Israel’s defensive capacity.” 

During this year’s largely virtual version of the annual, bilateral exercise—which offers the Israel Defense Forces another chance to work on homeland defense—troops are responding to computer-simulated scenarios, U.S. European Command told Air Force Magazine on Feb. 10.

“While the exercise is informed by overall dynamics in the Middle East, it is not in response to any recent developments or specific real-world events in the region,” the command added.

Approximately 300 Defense Department representatives—including American Airmen, other U.S. troops, and civilian employees—are participating with an undisclosed number of IDF personnel in the two-week exercise that kicked off Jan. 31. Service members are participating from around Europe, Israel, and the United States, EUCOM said.

“The exercise will be conducted from various locations in Germany, Israel and the U.S.,” the command said. EUCOM will also “have some forces participating or acting as response cells from their home stations in Europe.”

Israel’s recent redesignation to fall under U.S. Central Command’s responsibility for collaboration won’t impact this year’s version of Juniper Falcon. CENTCOM could make changes to bilateral training in the future as needed, however.

“Any time there are changes to the command structure, there are processes and collaboration that need to occur,” the command wrote. “Any handover will be done in a deliberate, thoughtful, and careful manner to ensure no interruption of our security relationship with Israel.”