The United States and Israel militaries have agreed to postpone large-scale war games this spring to later in the year, trying to avoid any added stress driven by conflicts with Iran, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The drill named the “Austere Challenge,” was announced in November by US assistant secretary of state for politics-military affairs, Andrew Shapiro, the LA Times reported. It was scheduled to take place in May. The Israeli military confirmed the drill would be rescheduled, although it didn’t give any reasons for the postponement, the Associated Press reported.
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"The thinking was it was not the right timing now to conduct such an exercise," said Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesperson, the AP reported. He said it was a “joint” decision.
Defense officials told the AP the deferral to Iran, although they spoke on the condition of anonymity and didn’t give further reasons for it.
The drill was supposed to include more than 5,000 US and Israeli forces, and was intended to stimulate Israel’s ballistic missile defense, the LA Times reported. It was announced shortly after American military officials expressed some concern that Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear facilities without a warning.
On Thursday, top US military commander, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, is scheduled to arrive in Israel for his first official trip there since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sept. 30, the AP reported. It is expected that Iran’s nuclear development will be the main topic of discussion.
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