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November 2011 - Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is edited by JINSA Visiting Fellow Gabriel Scheinmann. Each issue will feature news articles covering all aspects of U.S.-Israel cooperation with a focus on the military as well as an analytical article by Mr. Scheinmann. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email. 

Don't Pass (on the) Gas: Israel's Gas Discoveries are an American Strategic Asset Worth Protecting


By Gabriel M. Scheinmann - JINSA Visiting Fellow 


Tamar FieldsImagine a time in the not-too-distant future when the United States is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern energy resources. Now, imagine that those resources are controlled not by crumbling, sclerotic, state-sponsors of terror and Islamist regimes, but by stable, liberal, and democratic pro-American allies. Science fiction? It's merely the future if Washington works to help secure recent Israeli gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean.


Over the last several years, Israel, and Cyprus have made major gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean. While Israel's current proven gas reserves amount to more than 10 trillion cubic feet (tcf), Israel Natural Gas Authority Director-General Yehosua Stern recently stated that Israel's potential gas discoveries could reach nearly 46 tcf. To put that in perspective, that would be double America's 2010 gas consumption and twelve times U.S. gas imports. In fact, the 2010 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the Levant Basin Province might contain as much as 122 tcf of natural gas. Operated partly by Houston-based Noble Energy, drilling in the Tamar field and a sister Cypriot field began this past September, with production coming online in mid-2013. With the even larger Leviathan field expected to come online in 2017, the coming decade-absent strong U.S. action-could transform the eastern Mediterranean from a tranquil, bikini-clad bathwater into the more politically treacherous waters that characterize the Persian Gulf. 


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Iran Watch


According to the most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the Iranian nuclear program, Iran had created computer models of nuclear explosions, conducted experiments on nuclear triggers, was actively working to secure a suitable uranium source for a bomb program, and was in possession of missile warhead designs. The report confirms continued Iranian progress towards nuclear weapons capability.

Russia has delivered a set of mobile radar jammers to Iran as part of a "defensive system" that is about "providing security for the Iranian state," so said the deputy director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that "NATO has no intention whatsoever to intervene in Iran, and NATO is not engaged as an alliance in the Iran question." 


The Obama administration notified Congress that it was selling an integrated air defense system augmented with surface-launched medium range interceptors to Oman, valued at $1.25 billion. The sale will "improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability in the Middle East." The Obama administration is also drawing up plans to sell 4,900 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs)- GPS-guided bombs - to the United Arab Emirates. The U.A.E. already has several hundred JDAMs as well as F-16 fighters which could carry them. This comes on the heels of a similar, massive $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year.


Early November saw a flurry of Israeli military activity potentially geared towards Iran. Israel test-fired a long-range missile from the Palmachim base, whose smoke trail was visible across much of Tel Aviv. Reports suggested that it was a Jericho III ballistic missile capable of reaching

Click the video to watch 

Iran, though the Defense Ministry declined to specify. Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the achievement as "an important step in Israel's rocket and space progress." In parallel, the IAF announced that it had conducted an extensive joint training exercise with the Italian Air Force operating out of Decimomannu air base in Sardinia. At one point, the joint exercise was joined by the Dutch and German Air Forces and included mid-air refueling and long distance strikes. Israeli use of Italian airspace has increased in recent years as Israel has been barred from using Turkish airspace.

Missile Defense


The Israeli government, mimicking its American counterpart, voted to slash defense spending by $1.2 billion over the next two years, which the Defense Ministry maintains is nearly double in real terms, in a response to finding costs savings to offset increased social welfare spending catalyzed by the summer's tent protests. Although the specific areas of cuts have yet to be announced, it is rumored that they might include fewer Iron Dome missile defense batteries and fewer F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, both of which are U.S.-funded.


Missile Defense 
Click the video to watch

The IDF announced that it was in the final stages of deploying the "Magic Wand" missile defense system in central Israel, intended to protect Israel from long-range missiles fired by Hamas and Hezbollah. This follows the successful 2011 deployment of Iron Dome, designed to intercept short-range missiles, and is the second part of Israel's three-tiered missile defense system, with work continuing on the Arrow 3 system designed to intercept ballistic missiles from Iran. 


As reported in last month's Security Digest, Israel was speeding up the deployment of "C-Music," its laser-based missile defense system for commercial airliners, in light of the intelligence reports that stores of advanced Libyan anti-aircraft missiles had found their way to Hamas-controlled Gaza. Within months, 100 airliners will be outfitted with the system, to the cost of $135 million.


Dr. Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel's Missile Defense Organization, published a preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system. He called its deployment a complete technical and political success. The U.S. Army has expressed interest in purchasing Iron Dome batteries for possible deployment outside forward based in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.



The IDF unveiled the Tamnun (Octopus), a less-than-eight-pound portable, Digital Army Computer System (DACS) whose 6.5inch sun-visible interface panel can operate for nine hours and is mounted on a wearable dock. The Octopus is GPS- and backpack radio-connected, integrating into a wearable system that each soldier can pull out with no loss of data. USE PIC

Automotive Robotic Industries unveiled the "Amstaf on Guard," a weaponized, autonomous, robotic, flexible platform that can be configured with mission specific objectives, from fire support to a load carrying platform supporting dismounted infantry teams. It weighs a little less than one ton and can carry nearly another ton plus one ton tow capability, with a maximum speed of 32 mph on land and three mph in water.

Turkey Watch


As reported in last month's Security Digest, the Obama administration has announced the sale of three AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey ostensibly for use against Kurdish terrorists. Additionally, Defense Department officials have said they also fully support Turkey's request to buy Predator or Reaper drones, which can be equipped with Hellfire missiles.


Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow said that the drone sale was being held up by "problems in Turkish-Israeli relations," but that the Administration supported the sale. (Several congressmen have introduced a bill to scuttle the sale.) Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz was in Washington this month to negotiate both deals. The drone sale request is separate from an agreement with the Obama administration to allow the Turkish military to fly U.S. drones out of the Incirlik air base that had previously provided actionable intelligence on PKK terrorists from northern Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal. Four U.S. drones have reportedly already been deployed to Turkey, under complete Turkish control, and will become operational on November 22, following the end of Iraq-based U.S. drone reconnaissance.


Next year, Turkey is expected to launch its Göktürk electro-optical satellite, which will allow the Turkish military to gather its own intelligence and not have to rely on the United States or others. Once operational, Turkey will be able to not only use the reconnaissance for itself, but also sell it to other interested parties if it wishes. As a Turkish defense ministry official stated, "For years, Israel has obtained images of our territory. For the first time, we will have a satellite for intelligence. Reciprocity is essential in international relations. If they observe Turkish soil, Turkey has the same right, too."


Israel conducted air force exercises with its Greek Cypriot counterpart over Cyprus and the Mediterranean. The exercises included mid-air refueling of fighter jets and quick landings of IAF combat helicopters.



Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro recently announced that the Obama administration would not put conditions on American security assistance to Egypt.


Construction was completed on the first of four fast, new U.S.-built missile ships bound for Egypt. These 550-ton ships can reach top speeds of 41 knots, armed with Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, and are designed to operate at sea for up to eight days. The last of the ships is expected to be delivered to Egypt in late 2013.


In late October, an Egyptian helicopter entered Israeli airspace over the Negev without authorization, refused to respond to radio hails, and only left after four Israeli F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and fired warning shots. The IAF said it viewed the event with the fullest gravity, speculating that it could be anything from an unintentional error to a reconnaissance mission.



The United States, adhering to the Status of Forces Agreement it signed with its Iraqi counterpart, announced that it would withdraw all remaining U.S. armed forces from Iraq by December 31, 2011. As a result, the U.S. will no longer control Iraqi airspace. The current U.S. general in charge of training the Iraqi air force predicted there would be  at least a "two-year gap" in Iraqi air defenses, or until the Iraqi air force will be able to use the 18 U.S.-produced F-16 fighter jets it had ordered. Following the U.S. withdrawal, Iraq has rejected offers by both Turkey and Iran to train its armed forces.

U.S.-Israel Cooperation


In a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro gave a robust defense of Israel as a strategic asset for the United States. He also made several important announcements. First, next year, the U.S. will combine U.S. European Command's premiere exercise, Austere Challenge, with the annual U.S.-Israel Juniper Cobra exercise. In doing so, more than 5,000 U.S. and Israeli forces will be simulating the ballistic missile defense of Israel, "making it by far the largest and most significant exercise in U.S.-Israeli history." Second, he announced that Israel would soon join other U.S. partners, such as NATO countries, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, to be subjected to an expedited Congressional notification process for arms transactions. Going forward, sales will be concluded more quickly as it imposes a higher value threshold that necessitates notification of Congress. Third, he that the Administration did not support the cutoff of American aid to Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. 


Netanyahu-PanettaSecretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Israel in October, emphasizing that "we have always made a commitment to do everything we can to support the security of Israel and as the secretary of defense, I intend to continue that commitment.  I think it's important for us to say to this region that when it comes to the difficult issues we face we stand together to try to confront our difficult and common challenges." 

Odds and Ends

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