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U.S. General Dempsey Says Israel Drill Ensures ‘Common Defense’

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today in Israel that the largest joint military exercise between the two countries provides a common defense against missile attacks.

“It’s a real opportunity for our soldiers to work with Israeli soldiers, our airmen to work with Israeli pilots and our sailors to work with Israeli sailors,” Dempsey told Israeli President Shimon Peres at a meeting in Jerusalem today, according to an e-mailed statement from Peres’ office. “This exercise covers all of those domains to ensure that we have a layered cooperative, collaborative, common defense against the threats of missiles and rockets.”

The mock military maneuvers and computer war simulations come amid heightened tensions with Iran over its nuclear program, which Israel says is aimed at achieving nuclear weapons and Iranian officials say is intended for civilian purposes.

The U.S.-Israeli exercise, Austere Challenge 12, follows a U.S.-led exercise last month that involved more than 30 nations in the largest mine-cleaning demonstration in the Persian Gulf region.

“The security ties between Israel and the U.S. are deeper and stronger than they have been for many years,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an e-mailed statement from his office after meeting Dempsey yesterday.

The American general is also meeting with Israel’s Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz to discuss “aspects of military cooperation and shared security challenges,” the army spokesman’s office said in an e-mailed statement today. Dempsey is also scheduled to visit an Israeli-made anti-missile Iron Dome battery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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