(Photo: Matty Stern/Flash90) (Photo: Matty Stern/Flash90)

American troops arrived in Israel for the biannual military drill against missile attacks, code-named “Juniper Cobra.”

u.s.-israel military

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks to Israeli and US soldiers during a joint U.S.-Israel military exercise. (Photo: Matty Stern/FLASH90)

Israel and the United States began a joint drill, testing their missile defense systems against rocket fire.

Dubbed “Juniper Cobra,” the U.S.-Israel military drill, which occurs every two years, tests the nations’ joint response to rocket attacks.

American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Israel last week for a three-day visit, discussed preparations for the exercise, among other issues on the agenda.

“America’s commitment to a strong and secure Israel has not [been] and never will be anything but complete and unwavering,” Hagel said in Tel Aviv on Thursday at a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Hagel described Juniper Cobra as a “biannual five-day military exercise that will involve more than 4,000 American and Israeli troops, including over 700 U.S. troops here in Israel.

U.S.-Israel Military Drill Demonstrates ‘Unshakable Bond’

“This will be our European Command’s largest exercise this year,” he continued.” And it will be the seventh in the Juniper Cobra series which began in 2001. It will provide training in a variety of areas, including ballistic missile defense and other areas, along with two U.S. Aegis-class ships in the Mediterranean. The exercise will employ Israel’s entire rocket and ballistic missile architecture, including Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling: assets that the United States is proud to have helped Israel finance and develop.”

u.s.-israel military

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (R) and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visit Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Friday. (Photo: Alon Bason/Flash 90)

“Our strong and special security relations are a central component of the intimate and unshakable bond between the United States, the leader of the free world, and the state of Israel,” Ya’alon declared. “Israel enjoys generous American aid, which among other things, goes to the purchase of cutting-edge U.S. military equipment, like the future fighter jet F-35 and other advanced technologies.

“We are also extremely grateful for the steadfast U.S. support to vital programs to Israel’s security such as the Iron Dome system.”

The Israeli minister stressed that it is “Israel’s co-interest to see a strong America continuing to play a leading role in our region and beyond. Even if there are disagreements along the way, they cannot overshadow the ironclad bond we share.”

Written by: United with Israel Staff