Israeli media is full of a major news story: that a major war games exercise planned for April which involved thousands of U.S. troops joining the IDF for missile exercises simulating an Iranian attack on Israel have been cancelled. This would’ve been among the most elaborate exercise the two countries had ever implemented. It would’ve involved 3,000 U.S. troops, Patriot missile batteries and naval warships and brought a U.S. admiral to Israel to witness them. The Jerusalem Post reports:
The drill was supposed to include the simulation of various missile defense scenarios with the objective of creating a high level of interoperability so that, if needed, US missile defense systems would be able to deploy in Israel and work with local defense systems during a future conflict.
The official version is that the exercise has been postponed till this coming summer. But it seems clear that they were cancelled. Now the question is why.
Did the U.S. cancel them to show displeasure to Israel? And if so, why? Does Obama know something about Israeli intentions we don’t know? Are plans underway to strike Iran? Is Obama seeking to show his displeasure? Or is he trying to soothe Iran by not going through with a highly provocative military exercise which would’ve placed thousands of U.S. troops in the heart of Israel as a show of solidarity with Israel in its crusade against Iran? Another related option being suggested in the Israeli media is that the U.S. is signalling its displeasure over the latest Iranian assassination by the Mossad. If this is the case, then the U.S. is saying that such black ops programs are a sideshow that achieve little and could serve as the catalyst to send the entire region into cataclysm.
Maariv adds that the reason involved:
“broad IDF operational considerations, including military preparations for achieving complex objectives.”
I don’t know if this means that Israel wanted them cancelled because it was preparing to attack Iran. Or because the IDF wants Iran to believe this.
Further, Naval Today reports that the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is steaming from Thailand to join the two carrier groups already patrolling off the Iranian coast. Again, the question is–is this designed to pressure Iran and show it we mean business, up to and including an attack on its nuclear facilities? Some observers expecting a U.S. attack presume that in preparation we would require force redundancy in case Iran succeeded in disabling or sinking a U.S. carrier. Or is it designed to tell Israel that we will prevent an Israeli attack?
In addition, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey is due in Israel Thursday to continue pressure on Israel to tell us what its plans are concerning Iran. Or if Israel has already decided to attack, presumably he would be consulting with them about what would be involved and letting them know what the U.S. would or would not allow to happen.