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Published on: January 3, 2018

In 2017, the IDF participated in a handful of joint exercises and conferences with armed forces from around the globe. It broke records, exchanged strategies with the most powerful military leaders of the world, and hosted joint exercises. Most importantly, the IDF learned from its allies and proved the value of strong friendships.

Adm. Michelle J. Howard kicked off the IDF’s international activity this year. She spent a week in early January visiting Israeli naval bases and attending briefings on regional strategy.

US Adm. Michelle J. Howard visiting an Israeli naval base

March was a busy month for the IDF and Israeli Air Force (IAF). General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Commission, and General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Commander of the European Command of the U.S. Army, both visited to Israel. Additionally, the IAF special forces units and the IDF’s Ground Forces held a joint exercise with the United States Marine Corps called "Noble Shirley." There, the forces focused on guerilla and urban warfare as well as air support for ground forces, simulating helicopter transportation beyond enemy lines.

“Besides the IAF’s strategic interest in international cooperation, we share knowledge in order to improve our training capabilities,” said IAF Lt. Ofir. “In the week that preceded the exercise, we held three mutual learning days in which we shared combat doctrines, examined how each side performs different missions, and prepared for sorties.”

Later in March, IDF search and rescue soldiers went to Cyprus where they trained with Cypriot troops in order to earn their International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) classification.

Click on image to view video of IDF Search and Rescue soldiers training with Cypriot troops

In April, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, members of the US European Command and IDF soldiers came together to commemorate the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Members of the US European Command with IDF soldiers during Holocaust Remembrance Day

Later in the month, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan visited Austria and Germany to continue our tradition of cooperation. He visited with German Deputy Chief of Defense, Lt. Gen. Markus Kneip, and Austrian Chief of the General Staff, General Othmar Commenda. During his visit, Maj. Gen. Golan visited an urban training base and saw an infantry training exercise.

 

 IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan visited Austria and Germany to meet with with German Deputy Chief of Defense, Lt. Gen. Markus Kneip, and Austrian Chief of the General Staff, General Othmar Commenda

On May 9th, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot awarded the Chairman of the Joint Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Dunford with a Medal of Appreciation in honor of his exceptional service, his special contributions to the IDF and his effort to strengthen the ties between the US Army and the IDF.

IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot awarding the Chairman of the Joint Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Dunford with a Medal of Appreciation

In late May, the IAF hosted Juniper Falcon 2017, a yearly joint exercise with F-15 Fighter jets from the United States Air Force and Israeli F-151s and F-16s. Both countries were drilled in destroying mobile enemy targets. They put themselves in the shoes of their enemies by learning how to think, fly, attack, and defend like them.

USAF F-15s and IAF F-151 & F-16 planes side-by-side in the Junpier Falcon exercise

USAF F-15 during the Juniper Falcon exercise

USAF  F-15 taking off during the Juniper Falcon Exercise

One of the highest ranking delegations of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) visited Israel in June. During the 10-day trip, former U.S. officers heard from the heads of the IAF, Israeli Navy, Intelligence Corps, and Northern and Southern Commands.

During her first official trip to Israel in early June, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, visited a Hamas terror tunnel, accompanied by IDF and Israeli officials.

Nikki Haley walking through a Hamas terror tunnel 

Nikki Haley at the exit of a Hamas terror tunnel with IDF officials

 

Nikki Haley meeting with IDF officials at a Hamas terror tunnel

A few days later, on June 11, Commander of Israeli Ground Forces, Major General Kobi Barak visited US Army Chief of Staff, Gen Mark Milley and participated in a Full Honors Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown. Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak was awarded a Legion of Merit.

 Commander of Israeli Ground Forces, Major General Kobi Barak visiting US Army Chief of Staff, Gen Mark Milley at a Full Honors Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown

On June 22, Head of Israeli Ground Forces Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak hosted Italian Lt. Gen. Danilo Errico. That same day, Italian Armed Forces’ MG Angelo Palmieri, discussed technological challenges with the IDF C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate.

 

Head of Israeli Ground Forces Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak hosting Italian Lt. Gen. Danilo Errico

 

 Italian Armed Forces’ MG Angelo Palmieri meeting with the IDF C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate

July began with the USS George H.W. Bush’s arrival in Haifa, Israel. This was the first time an American aircraft carrier visited Israel since 2000, when the USS Dwight D.Eisenhower visited. This visit demonstrated the strong relationship between the US Armed Forces and the IDF.

Click on image to view tweet of the USS George H.W. Bush arriving in Haifa

During the first week of July, the IDF Chief Signal Officer, Brig. Gen Nati Cohen, met with 17 military attachés for a workshop on IDF activities.

IDF Chief Signal Officer, Brig. Gen Nati Cohen meeting with 17 military attachés 

On July 15, for the first time in 15 years, the IAF participated in the RIAT Airshow, where 70 countries came together to present their aircraft.

Soldiers of the IAF at the RIAT Airshow

At the end of July, the American and French navies participated in a joint exercise with the Israeli Navy, in which they simulated disarming naval mines and combating terror. Just after this exercise, the American and French navies returned to participate in another exercise with the Israeli Navy, called the Noble Melinda.

The American, French, and Israeli Navies posing with their respective flags in a naval exercise

 

Soldiers of the American, French, and Israeli navies posing together during the Noble Melinda exercise

At the end of August, US Department of Defense Vice Admiral Mat Winter visited IAF bases to strengthen cooperation. During the trip, he flew an F-16I fighter jet.

US Department of Defense Vice Admiral Mat Winter visiting an IAF base

On September 13, the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, met with with Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defense Forces.

 Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot meeting with with Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defense Forces

September continued to be an exciting month, as the IDF made a pivotal development in the relationship with the United States. The U.S. established a permanent U.S. military facility within an IAF base in order to improve deployment, detection, and interception in aerial defense for both of the militaries. “This symbolizes the strong bond that exists between the United States and Israel," stated Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, Deputy Commanding General for the US Army National Guard, U.S Army Europe

On September 19, the Hellenic Navy and the Israeli Navy signed an agreement to committing further cooperation in their shared security and strategic goals.

 The Hellenic Navy and the Israeli Navy shaking on an agreement

Towards the end of September, when an earthquake struck Mexico, the IDF sent a humanitarian aid delegation to help with disaster relief. Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso, thanked the delegation for their work to help the people of Mexico in their time of need.

The IDF's humanitarian aid delegation in Mexico

In mid October, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi met with incoming Director General of the MFO, Amb. Robert S. Beecroft, during his visit to Israel. "This visit reflects Israel's commitment to peace with Egypt, coordination with the Egyptian army, and maintaining the security of our shared border," said Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

 Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi meeting with incoming Director General of the MFO, Amb. Robert S. Beecroft 

In October, the IDF also welcomed the Cyprus National Guard as they participated together with the Israeli elite commando unit, Egoz, in a two-week long exercise in facilities across Israel.

The Cyprus National Guard and the IDF meeting

Later in October, the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot traveled to the US for an official four-day visit. During the visit he participated in a conference for chiefs of staff hosted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. While in the US, the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, met with American defense officials and foreign chiefs of staff and discussed shared security challenges, situation assessments, security related developments in the Middle East, and military collaborations with them.

 Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot 

At the end of the month, the Chief of Naval General Staff VADM Nikolas Tsounis, of the Hellenic Navy, visited the Israeli Navy, reaffirming the cooperation between Israel and Greece.

 

The Chief of Naval General Staff VADM Nikolas Tsounis, of the Hellenic Navy, visiting with the Israeli Navy

 "Rising Star," October’s joint naval exercise, was conducted with the Israeli and Italian naval forces. It emphasized identification of enemy submarines, rescue of submarine fighters in distress, and treatment of decompression sickness.

 


Click on the photo to view the video of the Italian and Israeli navies in the Rising Star exercise

The IAF broke its own record in November when it hosted Israel’s largest international aviation exercise to date. This year’s Blue Flag exercise, which included air forces from seven countries, was Israel’s largest international aviation exercise to date. For two weeks, Germany, the U.S., India, France, Italy, Greece, and Poland, along with the IAF, simulated intense combat scenarios in realistic settings.

 

Click on the photo to view a video of the Blue Flag exercise

 

Click on the photo to view a video fo the Blue Flag exericse

 

Soldier at the Blue Flag exercise

International meetings continued in November. The Chief of Defense Staff of the British Army, Air Chief Marshal (****) Sir Stuart Peach who met with the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. The two discussed shared threats and future cooperation between the militaries.

 

The Chief of Defense Staff of the British Army, Air Chief Marshal (****) Sir Stuart Peach meeting with the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot

In late November, Head of the International Media Branch, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, met with some of the most influential people in Uruguay, including former President Luis Alberto Lacalle. They discussed how the IDF is training to combat Hamas and Hezbollah's terror tunnels and underground warfare.

 

Head of the International Media Branch, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus meeting with some of the most influential people in Uruguay, including former President Luis Alberto Lacalle

In December, the Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, met with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter and Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk. They discussed the importance of defeating terrorist organizations, terror inspired by ISIS, and readiness for any future threats, with an emphasis on regional stability.

 

 The Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot meeting with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter and Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk

US Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman visited the IAF to see Israel's newly operational F-35 fighter jet at the Nevatim Airbase.

US Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman visiting with the IAF

Executing joint exercises and conferences are important to the IDF in maintaining relationships with international allies. There’s always more to learn, and learning from and with our friends that have different perspectives and experiences is an incredible advantage for everyone involved.

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