Engage and destroy: Germany-based soldiers recently travelled to Israel to test the interoperability of U.S. European Command and Israeli air-defense systems, and strengthen the cooperative ties between the two nations.
In his memoir, "American Soldier," GEN Tommy Franks wrote that that was the lesson Iraqi missile crews learned early in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Army Patriot missile batteries had shot down an enemy Ababil-100 missile headed for the 101st Airborne Division's tactical assembly area on the first day of the war and an Al Samoud missile aimed at the Coalition Forces Land Component Command headquarters a week later.
Within minutes of the second attack, the launch site near Basra was identified and destroyed by the Air Force.
V Corps air defenders know it takes long hours of coordination, planning, deploying and training to make dramatic "saves" like those happen. Proof of that came to a thundering climax recently at the culmination of exercise Juniper Cobra '05.
The fire, smoke and tungsten steel of Patriots pierced the Israeli sky that day, capping the biennial exercise that tests the interoperability of U.S. European Command and Israeli air-defense artillery systems, and strengthens the ties of security cooperation between the two nations.
In the official terms of U.S. Army, Europe, commander GEN B.B. Bell's command training guidance, the Army's goals for Juniper Cobra are to "concentrate on deploying theater missile defense assets into a joint operations area, reconnaissance of real-world battle positions, Patriot live-fire, and the activation of a V Corps-led theater missile defense joint task force that links into a joint-coalition command and control system."
About half of the approximately 1,000 U.S. service members who took part in this third Juniper Cobra exercise came from the headquarters of the corps' 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Giebelstadt, Germany, and its two Germany-based Patriot battalions--the 5th Bn., 7th ADA, in Hanau, and the 6th Bn., 52nd ADA, in Ansbach.
The corps air defenders were part of a group of American forces deployed here by sea and air as a joint task force that also included National Guard Soldiers and members of the Air Force and Navy. Those task force members blended their expertise with the know-how of their counterparts in the Israeli Defense Forces for a two-month-long exercise.
Juniper Cobra was executed through three specialized phases. The first phase consisted of a 36-hour joint U.S.-Israeli field-training exercise in the Tel Aviv area. The exercise focused on marking a launch site, deploying and emplacing missile launchers, and establishing communications with the engagement-control stations where troops push the launch buttons.
The second phase was a computer-assisted command-post exercise during which task force members had to react to simulated ballistic-missile attacks and scenarios that challenged U.S. and Israeli air defenders to mesh their missile-defense doctrines and make combined split-second decisions.
The final phase was the live-fire exercise that allowed the joint-combined team to put their hard work and preparation to the ultimate test--engaging and destroying live ballistic practice drones.
"Juniper Cobra is like a military laboratory where we can experiment, test and confirm our air defenses with our U.S. counterparts," said Brig. Gen. Ilan Bitton, the Israeli air force's air defense artillery commander. "Through our shared knowledge and experience, we are more than ever prepared and capable of providing the maximum security for our citizens."
While officials of both nations agree that each has sufficient theater ballistic missile defenses of its own, they have also agreed that their shared values and interests led to the creation and continuation of the exercise.
Indeed, Israel views its theater missile defense as so important that it is essentially the only arena of military operations in which the normally self-sufficient Israeli forces conduct extensive training and operations with other nations.
Much of Juniper Cobra's locus is on consolidating the powers of the U.S. Patriot missile, the powerhouse interceptor that quickly became a household word following its first appearances in Operation Desert Storm, and the Israeli Arrow missile. Air defenders from both nations are not shy about singing the praises of the potent one-two punch of the systems working in concert.
"We have a balance," said joint task force commander MG Henry Burchstead of the South Carolina National Guard's 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "The Arrow is designed to destroy missile threats in the upper atmosphere, while the Patriot primarily engages targets in the lower atmosphere, giving us a two-tiered missile defense system."
That successful two-tier defense has been the nucleus of past Juniper Cobra exercises, Burchstead added. But this time, the exercise hailed a step up in missile defense innovation.
Before the exercise, U.S. and Israeli missile operators were put into simulators that replicated various forms of debris they might encounter in an air-defense battle. For the first time, ADA operators trained to deconflict air debris on their radars and engage any incoming missiles that bypassed initial defenses because of that debris.
COL Kirk Lawrence, the joint task force chief of staff, said the ability to overcome debris and destroy "leakers"--enemy missiles that make it past the first tier of defense--is a "potentially ground-breaking technique" on the tactical level.
Radar synchronization was sup plied by sailors on board USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer home-ported in Mayport, Fla. It's been deployed in the Mediterranean since November, supporting the Navy's Sixth Fleet.
Carney's crew provided the task force with the power of its Aegis combat system and the SPY-1D radar, an advanced multi-function, phased-array radar capable of searching, tracking and guiding missiles simultaneously.
With the ability to track more than 100 targets at once, the Navy system allowed the Patriot and Arrow operators to see a single, integrated air picture.
Navy officials said that providing that support for Juniper Cobra was an opportunity for the Navy to increase its expertise on many levels as well.
"The Navy's participation was designed to enhance interoperability and develop military-to-military cooperation among the participating countries," said Lt. j.g. David Luckett, the Sixth Fleet's deputy public-affairs officer. "Very few military operations will be conducted by one service in today's effects-based operations."
"Working with the Army for Juniper Cobra 2005 was a valuable experience for me as a radar technician," added Carney crew member FC3 Raymond Kinchen. "It stressed our functional capabilities and our hands-on technical experience."
While the exercise drills were not much different than what the 69th would do at home in Germany, Lawrence said the uniqueness of Juniper Cobra lies in the real-world relevance of the training.
"We are here to help and contribute to Israel's defenses," said Lawrence. "We are not protecting some static, impersonal asset. Tel Aviv is a living, breathing city of more than a million people.
"The priority was keeping everything as real as possible for the Soldiers," Lawrence said. "They are aware of Israel's unique situation, and they've seen first-hand how serious the IDF is taking this exercise."
Lawrence said the success of Juniper Cobra and the longtime defense cooperation between the two nations is a result of the personal and individual bonds that have been made through the course of this and previous exercises.
CSM Bruce Likens of the 69th ADA Bde. said the success of Juniper Cobra also depends heavily on the support of service members on both sides who worked behind the scenes to make the exercise happen.
After spending two years planning and two months executing Juniper Cobra 05, task force members looked forward to the exercise's live-fire event like kids clamoring for the grand finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show. And they weren't disappointed. The U.S. and IDF crews fired 15 missiles. All 15 hit their targets.
"The live-fire was not only the climax of the exercise, it was the height of my career," said SPC Mark Howard of the 5th Bn.'s Btry. E. It was the first Patriot launch he had witnessed.
As the U.S. military continues to build coalitions, strengthen international ties and transition to a more expeditionary force, task force officials say the Juniper Cobra exercises have been key road maps to success.
"The future of our security lies in mutual cooperation, jointness and interoperability," Luckett said. "Our definition of partnerships is expanding to include nations, navies, and other organizations of expertise not traditionally considered."
SGT Kristopher Joseph works in the V Corps Public Affairs Affairs Office.
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|Date:||Jul 1, 2005|
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