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usisraelU.S-Israel Cooperation  


Israel is seeking a surge in future U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants. A new 10-year military aid package, which would extend through 2027, is expected to focus on a wide range of Israeli concerns. These include military modernization, new threats that have arisen as a result of regional instability, and the erosion of Israel's Qualitative Military Edge due to U.S. sales of advanced weaponry to other countries of the Middle East.  


Mark Welsh
Commander of the IAF Maj. Gen. Eshel (left) welcomes Chief of Staff of the USAF General Welsh (right)

Several senior U.S. military officers visited Israel over the last month. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey arrived in Israel August 12. After several days of meetings he will move on to Jordan. This is Gen. Dempsy's third trip to Israel since assuming the chairman's job. Last month, General Philip M. Breedlove, the new Commander of U.S. European Command; General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and; Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter all conducted separate working visits to Israel.


The United States and Israel conducted two concurrent, yet distinct annual military exercises in Israel last month. Held at Nevatim air base in southern Israel, Juniper Stallion 13 was a combined F-15/F-16 air-to-air exercise between the two air forces that sought to improve interoperability. Nobel Melinda 13 was a bilateral maritime exercise focused on explosive ordnance disposal and underwater operations.


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iranIran Watch


The proposed cabinet of Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, largely survived intense confirmation hearings led by conservative members of parliament, who dominate the body. Rouhani's key nominees were approved, most notably new Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, an American-educated diplomat. There is speculation that Zarif's appointment could signal that Rouhani was seeking greater engagement with the United States. At the same time, however, the head of Iran's national oil company admitted that Iran has systematically bypassed and avoided Western economic sanctions on its oil exports.


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missileMissile Defense


In recognition of sequestration's effect on the U.S. defense budget, Israel has offered to waive any potential funding protection for the more than $1 billion earmarked towards Israeli missile defense programs over the coming two years. The approximate 9% reduction comes on top of the 5% reduction in U.S. military aid, also a consequence of the sequester. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren stated that Israel "must bear the burden that our American friends are bearing."


An Iron Dome battery made its first successful interception in the Eilat region this week, shooting down a Grad missile fired by an al Qaeda linked group in the Sinai. Seven rockets were launched from Gaza and the Sinai into Israel in July. 51 missiles, rockets, and mortars have been fired into Israel from Gaza and Sinai this year, the fewest since the disengagement.


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egyptEgypt Watch  

On August 15, 2013, President Obama canceled the 2013 Bright Star military exercises with Egypt to protest the killing of hundreds of protesters by the military government and has suspended the planned delivery of four F-16s. No mention was made of suspending America's $1.3 billion in annual military aid, however. Bright Star has been scheduled to take place every two years since 1981. It was also called off in 2011 during the revolts that led to the overthrow of long-time President Hosni Mubarak.  


The security situation in the Sinai continues to deteriorate even as the Egyptian armed forces embark on a concerted effort to restore stability after several years of lawlessness. As a condition of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Israel approved an Egyptian request to deploy an additional two infantry battalions in the Sinai. Since deposing the Muslim Brotherhood-led government last month, the Egyptian military has sought to reestablish control in the Sinai from Hamas operatives, al Qaeda affiliates, and other jihadi groups. It also intercepted a shipment of Grad rockets headed to Hamas in Gaza and has made a greater effort to close arms smuggling tunnels.


Egyptian security sources reported that a missile launched from an Israeli UAV struck a rocket launching site in the Sinai, killing five terrorists. Although the strike was certainly done with Egyptian coordination, it marks a new approach to Sinai-based terrorism in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood's removal from power. The Israeli government declined to comment on the strike. Incidents of cross-border gunfire from Sinai-based militant groups are also becoming common.


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levantLevant Watch


The Syrian civil war continues unabated and remains stalemated. Last month, Israel was again on the receiving end of a number of mortar shells fired from Syrian territory in the Golan Heights and continues to treat Syrians injured in the conflict.


As reported in last month's Security Digest, U.S. intelligence analysts confirmed that Israel indeed conducted an airstrike on July 5 near Latakia, in the Alawi heartland, targeting a warehouse containing of Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles. The reported strike was Israel's fourth since January as it seeks to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah.

Before (left) and after (right) satellite imagery of the strike
As a consequence of severe insecurity along the Syrian-Israeli border, the makeup of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has become a game of musical chairs. Croatia, Japan, and Austria have withdrawn their contingents while the Philippines postponed its contingent's early withdrawal, which had been previously announced. At the same time, Ireland, Fiji, and Nepal announced intentions to send additional troops to bolster the UNDOF force.


Hours after Lebanese President Michel Suleiman openly criticized Hezbollah's role in the Syrian civil war, two rockets struck the Lebanese presidential palace, the second such attack near Beirut in two months. Meanwhile, Turkey announced it would withdraw its 250-person UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) contingent at the end of September. It will continue to participate in UNIFIL's maritime task force, however, where 58 troops currently serve.


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turkeyTurkey Watch


Breedlove Before traveling to Israel, new U.S. European Command Commander General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF, also visited U.S. Patriot missile sites in southwestern Turkey last month.  


Turkish procurement authorities have tasked Turkish Aerospace Industries to build the country's first indigenous helicopter. Meanwhile, the Turkish navy received its first two ATR 72-600 maritime utility aircraft as part of a larger order that will eventually include maritime patrol aircraft as well.


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gulfGulf Watch    


In response to intelligence intercepts suggesting a large-scale attack on Western targets in the region by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the United States closed nearly two dozen of its embassies and consulates across the Arabian Peninsula for the first week of August. The closures were concurrent with a surge in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen; nine strikes in the past two weeks have killed 38 suspected militants.


Within the last two weeks, the Obama administration notified Congress that it intends to sell $4.3 billion in arms to Iraq, including a $2.4 billion air defense package that includes 681 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 40 truck-mounted launchers, Sentinel radars and three Hawk anti-aircraft batteries with 216 Hawk missiles. Also included in the package are 50 Stryker armored infantry carriers and 12 Bell 412EP helicopters.


The UAE agreed to a $1 billion contract with French defense firms to purchase two Falcon Eye high-resolution optical reconnaissance satellites. When they arrive in 2018, the Gulf state will have one of the most advanced satellite capabilities in the region.


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Artillery Corps'
The 120mm Keshet mortar system, part of the IDF Artillery Corps
The IDF Artillery Corps is undergoing a doctrinal and institutional revolution, shifting away from a saturation-centric force towards a greater emphasis on precision weaponry and direct fire. The IDF Artillery Corps will soon be capable of operations previously reserved for the Air Force. 


By the end of the year, the Israeli Navy will have the Barak-8 missile interceptor system installed on its Saar 5 class corvettes. The Barak-8 is designed to defeat a variety of anti-ship missiles and attacking aircraft, providing the most effective defense against the highly capable Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles possessed by Syria and Hezbollah.


The Talon IV is the IDF's newest explosives-clearing robot, joining the commando unit of the Combat Engineering Corps. 


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oldandnewOld and New Allies 


A Cypriot paper reported that Cyprus was in talks with Israel to buy two large missile boats each with a displacement of between 1500 and 2000 tons.


The European Union designated Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist organization, opening the way for EU governments to freeze any assets the military wing may have in Europe. Since Hezbollah itself makes no distinction between its military, political, and social welfare wings, however, it is unclear what impact the designation will have on Hezbollah's European operations. The EU move comes on the heels of Arab Gulf states' efforts similar efforts to censure Hezbollah.


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oddsendsOdds and Ends 

  • Israel sold $7.5 billion in arms in 2012, an all-time high. Defense exports constitute 10% of Israel's total industrial exports, not including diamonds, and 75% of Israeli defense manufacturing is slated for export to foreign markets. 50 percent of the arms exports involve air defense systems, satellite platforms, and radars.
  • The Obama administration intends to repatriate two Guantanamo Bay detainees to Algeria as part of its renewed efforts to close the military detention center.
  • As part of a national effort to reclaim land, Israel is clearing hundreds of acres along its southern borders with Jordan and Egypt of anti-personnel mines that date back more than four decades.

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Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation and much more. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is compiled by Gabriel Scheinmann. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email.
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