June 13, 2007

Training for the Next War?

Israel is taking the rumors of war against her this coming summer seriously. From Training for the Next War?:

The more casual news reports, like those by the Jerusalem Post and Reuters on Monday, speak of “one-day” joint training exercises between the Israeli air force and U.S. pilots on Sunday. The Post cites Israeli-army sources “dismiss[ing] speculation that the drills were connected to an attack on Iran.” Reuters quotes an Israeli military spokeswoman saying the exercise was “part of a multi-year working plan involving joint flights for the purpose of mutual learning,” as well as an Israeli military source claiming the exercises were “unconnected to the current situation in the country.”

The exercises, in any case, sparked interest and were reported in Arab media. They also manifest the fact that, despite reported Bush-administration disgruntlement with Israeli military capabilities after the summer 2006 war in Lebanon, U.S.-Israeli military cooperation continues at a high level.

One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy-monger to wonder if there’s some connection between the U.S.-Israeli air drills and the Ofek-7’s launch. It took, however, the Israeli scoop site DEBKAfile, which purports to have inside security information and not infrequently turns out to be right, to connect these dots in a single article. “DEBKAfile’s military sources report,” the article says, “that the [Ofek-7] launching was part of a seven-day US-Israeli air exercise taking place this week in the Negev [desert] which, though presented officially as a routine practice, reflects wide expectations of a Middle East war this summer.”