Breaks Ground for New Permanent Base in Israel
By Barbara Opall-Rome
September 18, 2017
TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. and Israeli officers broke
ground in Israel on Monday for a permanent U.S. Army base that will house dozens
of U.S. soldiers, operating under the American flag, and charged with the
mission of defending against rocket and missile attack.
The American base, officers in Israel say, will be an
independent facility co-located at the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School
in southern Israel, near the desert capital of Beersheba. Once completed, the
base will house U.S. operational systems to identify and intercept a spectrum of
aerial threats, along with barracks, recreational and other facilities required
to support several dozen American air defenders.
“A few dozens of soldiers of our American allies will be
stationed here permanently. They are part of an American task force that will be
stationed here,” said Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the
IDF‘s air defense commander.
According to Haimovich, the co-located, permanent U.S.
presence will enhance Israel’s ability to detect and defend against the
growing rocket and missile threat. “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.”
Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commanding general of the
Army National Guard in U.S. Army Europe, led the U.S. delegation participating
in Sept. 18 ceremonies.
Referring to the site as Site 883 Life Support Area,
Gronski said the planned base “signifies the strong bond” that exists
between the United States and Israel.
“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
While the new U.S. base marks 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
In his briefing to reporters, Haimovich said the IDF has
been working with its U.S. counterparts for nearly two years to establish the
new facility. He emphasized that the American presence “would not hamper
the IDFs ability to act independently against any threat to the security of the
State of Israel.”
He also noted that in recent weeks, the IDFs Air Defense
Command stood up a new Iron Dome battalion to enable the Jewish state to more
equitably deploy active defenses along its northern as well as southern borders,
where Israel faces growing threats from Lebanon and Gaza, respectively.
One of Israel’s operational Iron Dome systems is now in
the U.S., where it is competing with U.S.-proposed systems for an interim — and
possibly longer-term — solution to the medium- and short-range air