USA har drastisk redusert størrelsen på en militærøvelse med Israel i både mannskap og materiell, noe som tolkes som tegn på mistillit.
Austere Challenge 12 går av stabelen i oktober, rett før det amerikanske presidentvalget. Øvelsen skulle testet ut samhandling mellom antimissilsystemer, noe som er helt vitalt hvis Israel utsettes for et iransk angrep. Men Obama-administrasjonen kan frykte at dette vil bli oppfattet som at USA og Israel trener på et angrep på Iran.
Opprinnelig het det at rundt 5000 mann skulle delta, nå er det skåret ned til 1.500-12.00. Det kommer Patriot-systemer, men ingen til å operere dem. To anti-missilskip var varslet, det er usikkert om ett kommer.
USA har en radar i Negev-ørkenen, som kan se så godt og presist inn i Iran at det vil være i stand til å oppdage en iransk rakett 6-7 minutter før israelerne kan. Likevel får ikke israelere lov til å se på skjermene.
The U.S. antimissile systems are important because while Israel has made great strides in creating antimissile shields that protect its population, it doesn’t have enough of them to deploy around the entire country, even with the U.S. aid specifically dedicated to building more (as well as crucial offensive capabilities, such as midair refuelers and possibly bunker-busting bombs). That makes the presence of the Patriots — first deployed to Israel during the First Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein launched Scuds toward the Jewish State — and other U.S. antimissile systems extremely valuable. Austere Challenge was billed by assistant secretary of state Andrew J. Shapiro last November as “by far the largest and most significant exercise in U.S.-Israeli history.” A stated goal was to “improve interoperability” between American and Israeli antimissile systems — which are already significantly linked. The U.S. maintains an X-band radar installation in Israel’s Negev Desert, pointed toward Iran and linked to Israel’s Arrow antimissile system.
The radar is extraordinarily powerful, so sensitive that it can detect a softball thrown into the air from thousands of kilometers away. But as TIME reported earlier, only Americans are allowed to see what’s on the screens, a situation that likely serves to inhibit any Israeli decision to “go at it alone” against Iran, because the U.S. array can detect an Iranian missile launch six to seven minutes earlier than Israel’s best radar. Difficult as it may be to imagine U.S. decisionmakers holding back information that could save Israeli lives, both by giving them more time to reach a shelter, or their interceptors to lock onto and destroy an incoming Shahab-3, the risk looms in the complex calculus of Israeli officials mulling an attack on Iran.
In the current political context, the U.S. logic is transparent, says Israeli analyst Efraim Inbar. “I think they don’t want to insinuate that they are preparing something together with the Israelis against Iran — that’s the message,” says Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “Trust? We don’t trust them. They don’t trust us. All these liberal notions! Even a liberal President like Obama knows better.”
Exclusive: U.S. Scales Back Military Exercise with Israel, Affecting Potential Iran Strike
A smaller U.S. contingent may make it more difficult for the Israeli government to launch a pre-emptive strike on Tehran’s nuclear program