On September 16, 2017, ground was broken for a new U.S. military base at the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School near Beersheba. Once completed, the base will support a contingent of American soldiers who will operate systems to help Israel defend against rocket and missile attack.
“The purpose of their presence is not for training or for exercises, but rather as part of a joint Israeli and American effort to sustain and enhance our defensive capabilities,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of Israel’s aerial defense. The base, he added, sends a message that “Israel is improving the response to threats.”
Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commanding general of the Army National Guard in U.S. Army Europe, said the based “signifies the strong bond” between the U.S. and Israel. “We’ll have Israeli airmen, U.S. soldiers living and working side-by-side.”
“This life support area represents the first ever stationing of a U.S. Army unit on Israeli soil,” he said. “The U.S. and Israel have long planned together, exercised together, trained together. And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will occur every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, US soldiers living and working side by side.”
Barbara Opall-Rome noted that while this base is “the first to be co-located within an Israeli base and the first in which active interceptors are to be deployed, the U.S. military has operated an independent facility for nearly a decade in the same general area of Israel’s Negev desert. That facility — which is operated only by Americans without an Israeli presence — houses the U.S. AN/TPY-2, an X-Band radar that is integrated with Israeli search and track radars to augment early warning in the event of ballistic missile attack from Iran.”
Sources: Barbara Opall-Rome, “US breaks ground for new permanent base in Israel,” Defense News, (September 19, 2017);
Yaniv Zohar, “Israel and US open first American military base in Israel,” Washington Post, (September 18, 2017).