The U.S. has established its first, co-located permanent military base in Israel on Monday in a mostly symbolic move to reaffirm relations.
The base, designed to be an independent facility but co-located at the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School, will house dozens of U.S. soldiers, though its function is mostly symbolic as it falls under the authority of Israel military directives and will not result in any operational changes, the Associated Press reports.
“This life support area represents the first ever stationing of a U.S. Army unit on Israeli soil,” said Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commanding general of the Army National Guard in U.S. Army Europe. “The U.S. and Israel have long planned together, exercised together, trained together. And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will occur every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, U.S. soldiers living and working side by side.”
For Israel, the base communicates increased readiness in the face of threats from Iran, which not only possesses a large stock of long-range missiles, but is also continually developing new capabilities.
“It’s a message that says Israel is better prepared. It’s a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, Israel’s aerial defense commander.
“The purpose of their presence is not for training or for exercises, but rather as part of a joint Israeli and American effort to sustain and enhance our defensive capabilities,” Haimovich added.
In terms of purpose, the base, which has been in development for two years, will use U.S. systems to identify aerial threats, which according to Israel is a growing concern, especially because Iran is making major gains in Syria through its proxy force Hezbollah.
Despite the base being co-located, Haimovich emphasized that no Americans will “hamper the IDFs ability to act independently against any threat to the security of the State of Israel.”
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