Home inSight Israel: Security Asset for the United States

Israel: Security Asset for the United States

Shoshana Bryen

Perhaps you think the war is over. Perhaps you think that if Iran becomes a “friend” of the United States and the possibility of an American-led war against the Islamic Republic recedes, the need for a militarily capable ally such as Israel also recedes. Maybe the U.S. doesn’t want to associate with the “militaristic” Jewish State. That’s quite possible from the vantage point of July 2015 and if you think the only reason to befriend anyone is for the military advantages it brings to the relationship.

But there is a reason military-to-military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel has remained almost untouchable, and the American military proudly touts its relationship with Israel.

U.S. and Israeli soldiers during the Juniper Cobra 10 joint training exercise, in Israel, Oct. 21, 2009. (Photo: Spc. Zachary R. Fehrman/Ohio National Guard Public Affairs)

A secure location in a crucial part of the world, with the President of the United States behaving as if Iran can be an ally and a pro-Western player, it might help to recall the “quick reference guide” to the capabilities Israel brings to U.S.-Israel security cooperation, first published by JINSA in 1979, detailing that Israel has:

  • A well-developed military infrastructure
  • The ability to maintain, service, and repair U.S.-origin equipment
  • An excellent deep-water port in Haifa
  • Modern air facilities
  • A position close to sea-lanes and ability to project power over long distances
  • A domestic air force larger than many in Western Europe and possessing more up-to-date hardware
  • Multilingual capabilities, including facility in English, Arabic, French, Farsi and the languages of the (former) Soviet Union
  • Combat familiarity with Soviet/Russian style tactics and equipment
  • The ability to assist U.S. naval fleets, including common equipment
  • The ability to support American operations and to provide emergency air cover
  • A democratic political system with a strong orientation to support the United States and the NATO system.

In 1996, R&D capabilities and intelligence cooperation were added. Post 9-11, urban counterterror training was added.

Nothing has been deleted.

After the 2003 allied invasion of Iraq, American military personnel were being introduced to Israel’s bomb-sniffing dogs. The U.S. wanted such dogs, but the training period is fairly long. The IDF made Israeli dogs available, but they only took commands in Hebrew. There were some interesting scenes in Baghdad.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey is one of many American military officers willing to praise Israel’s concern for enemy civilian casualties. Dempsey sent a senior American delegation to Israel to learn tactics after last summer’s Gaza war.

But more important than planning for combat is planning for the strengthening of democracies. We cannot make democracies out of Iraq or Libya or Syria, but when democratic countries are united, the world becomes a safer place for all. As I wrote in 2006,

“Israel and the United States are drawn together by common values and common threats to our well-being. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East and Asia, and the ballistic missile technology to deliver systems across wide areas require cooperation in intelligence, technology and security policy. Terrorism and the origins and dissemination of violent Islamic radicalism also need to be addressed multi-laterally when possible.

“In a volatile region so vital to the U.S., where other states cannot be relied upon, it would be foolish to disengage — or denigrate — an ally such as Israel. The war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them will be long and hard, and success will depend in no small measure on the allies who stand with us and with whom we stand.”

The message was good in 1979, better in 2006 and better yet in 2015.