Not Good-- US Troops Being Sent to Israel
U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.
More than a dozen aircraft, including C-5s and C-17s, helped with the Sept. 21 delivery of the AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T), its ancillary components and some 120 EUCOM personnel to Israel's Nevatim Air Base southeast of Beersheba, said sources here and in Stuttgart, Germany.
Among the U.S. personnel is at least one representative from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), though officials said the agency had little to no say in the deployment decision. MDA involvement has been confined to providing equipment and advice on technical aspects of its deployment, one official said.
The Raytheon-built FBX-T system is the same phased-array radar that was deployed to northern Japan with the U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in 2006. The high-powered, high-frequency, transportable X-band radar is designed to detect and track ballistic missiles soon after launch.
Its ancillary gear included cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry, logistics supplies and dozens of technicians, maintenance specialists and security forces to operate and defend the U.S. installation.
EUCOM has repeatedly deployed troops and Patriot air defense batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil.
A EUCOM spokesman declined to comment. MDA officials referred to the U.S. State Department, which did not provide comment by press time.
An Israeli military spokesman said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enjoys longstanding strategic cooperation with all branches of the U.S. military.
"This cooperation is varied and comes in multiple forms, and it is not our practice to discuss details of our bilateral activities," he said.
Nevertheless, in previous interviews, U.S. and Israeli officials confirmed that the X-band deployment plan was approved in July, first by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; and then by. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.