Slashed US military input shortens Israel’s notice of Iranian missile launch
September 2, 2012
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are silent in the face of the avalanche of bad news coming in from official Washington.
The Patriot anti-missile systems scheduled for what was to have been the biggest joint US-Israel anti-missile drill in October will remain packed in tarpaulin because they come without crews; even one – much less two – Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships may not be dispatched to Israeli waters; and the number of US servicemen sent over for the annual exercise is to be cut by more than two-thirds to 1,500.
This downgrade of US participation in an annual war exercise with Israel is more than striking. It adds up to the dismemberment by the Obama administration of the entire intricate strategy US and Israel have built over years for the deterrence – and interception if need be – of any Iranian/Hizballah/Syrian missile assault on Israel.
The inferences are cruel: The US defense or second-strike elements – which had been slotted into place by the military strategists of the two armies – will not be there. Their absence slashes the time available for Israel’s alarm-and-interception systems to spring into action – the moment the engines of Iranian ballistic missiles heading its way are fired – right down from the originally estimated 14 minutes’ notice.
It also means that Barak’s estimate of 500 dead in the worst case of a war with Iran must go by the board.
Netanyahu and Barak have clearly been rendered speechless by the high-powered US military, diplomatic and personal onslaught on Israel and its government. Even the smooth-tongued Tzahi Hanegbi, just returned to the Likud fold, found no easy way of whitewashing the debacle. “Defense relations with the US are deeper than ever before,” he said unconvincingly in a radio interview Sunday morning, Sept. 2.