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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Defense Digest: July 2019

For the first time, F-35 fighter jets from Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom joined forces in an aerial exercise over the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

House and Senate Pass Defense Authorization Bill Including Pro-Israel Provisions

In June and July, the Senate and House passed versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an important annual bill that includes key bipartisan pro-Israel provisions. The bill authorizes $500 million in cooperative U.S-Israel missile defense funding for Fiscal Year 2020, in accordance with the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the president’s budget request. The differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation now must be conferenced between the two chambers.

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U.S.-Israel Defense Policy Advisory Group Discusses Bilateral Cooperation

U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood led a delegation of defense officials to Israel on June 30 for the joint Defense Policy Advisory Group. Co-chairs Under Secretary Rood and Israeli Defense Ministry Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs Zohar Palti “reviewed global and regional security challenges and set priorities for the U.S.-Israel defense partnership over the coming year,” according to the Defense Department. “The U.S. defense partnership with Israel is ironclad, and cooperation between the two militaries will remain extraordinarily robust at all levels,” said Under Secretary Rood. “Today's dialogue was extremely productive and I look forward to continue our great work with Israel's defense leadership.”

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In First, U.S., U.K. and Israeli F-35 Pilots Train Together in Joint Exercise

On June 25, U.S.,U.K. and Israeli F-35 fighter pilots conducted training flights over the Mediterranean Sea, in Israel's first-ever international exercise with the aircraft. Showcasing military cooperation between the countries, “Exercise Tri-Lightning” was also the first drill in which the three nations carried out aviation training with the same airframe at the same time. “International cooperation between Israel, the U.S. and Britain strengthens our joint interests and our new, exclusive capabilities in the Middle East,” said Israeli Air Force Chief of Air Staff Brig. Gen. Amnon Ein-Dar.

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House Passes Security Assistance to Israel, Missile Defense Funding

On June 19, the House passed the State-Foreign Operations and Defense appropriations bills as part of a four-bill package for FY20. The legislation includes $3.3 billion in security assistance for Israel and $500 million in U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense funding, representing the second year of the most recent U.S.-Israel MOU on security assistance. In addition, the House rejected two broad cutting amendments that would have cut security assistance to Israel by up to $60 million. The Senate has yet to take action on these appropriation bills.

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U.S., Israeli and Russian National Security Advisors Hold Unprecedented Trilateral Meeting

On June 25, an unprecedented trilateral meeting took place between the U.S., Israeli and Russian national security advisors. The conference in Jerusalem highlighted Iran, as the leaders discussed the regime’s nuclear ambitions and regional aggression. The meeting also featured a clear focus on Syria, addressing Israel’s concerns regarding foreign fighters' access to Israel’s northern border.

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IDF is Only Foreign Military to Compete in U.S. Combat Photography Contest

In May, the U.S. military hosted a team of Israeli cameramen in a five-day combat photography competition in Quantico, Virginia. Taking third place, the IDF was the first international military to participate in the contest and the only non-U.S. team in attendance. Marking its seventh year, Defense Department’s Hilda I. Clayton Best COMCAM (combat camera) Competition was established to commemorate the U.S. Army photographer who was killed in Afghanistan.

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Indiana National Guard Partners with Israeli Homefront Command for Joint Exercise

From May 30 to June 6, the Indiana National Guard's 19th CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), Israeli Homefront Command, National Rescue Unit and Indiana's Task Force 1 joined forces for a week-long search-and-rescue operational training drill. The annual Urban Front exercise rotates between locations in Israel and Indiana and promotes interoperability between the America and Israel. “The exercise provides both the Israeli Defense Force and the Indiana National Guard a unique and exciting training opportunity to share tactics, techniques, and procedures for search and rescue operations,” said Maj. Andrew Orman, 19th CERFP deputy commander.

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Type: AIPAC Defense Digest