U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey arrives in Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel to oversee the largest-ever joint aerial defense exercise of the U.S. and Israel.

Dempsey met Monday with his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, after arriving late the previous day and meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. 

On Oct. 21, Israeli and U.S. troops began Austere Challenge 12, part of a training exercise designed to increase military cooperation between the two countries. Its planning began more than two years ago and is not a response to specific events in the Middle East, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The exercise is scheduled to last three weeks and involve more than 3,500 American service personnel and 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Part of the exercise reportedly will involve live fire.

Of the exercise’s $38 million price tag, the United States will pay $30 million and Israel $8 million.

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