There has been much speculation about the reasons behind the reduction in the number of US personnel in the upcoming military manoeuvre between the United States and Israel.
The prevailing opinion behind the cutback is related to a quote in the TIME article which broke the story. According to an unnamed senior Israeli official, the Obama administration is saying to Israel “We don’t trust you”.
This opinion was countered by Yediot Ahronot’s Ron Ben Yishai who in an article published today quoted Israeli Defense officials who told him that they agreed with Pentagon’s view that the reduction is due to financial reasons. Ben Yishai then goes on to say that the reduction in the personnel will not affect the scale of the exercise. The reason being that the upcoming exercise is a simulation exercise where defense systems against missile and air attacks will be tested.
Such maneuvers involve the extensive use of computer simulation systems. According to Ben Yishai, the Americans will now be managing their tasks from bases in Germany, instead of coming to Israel. He then goes on to say that the IDF was in fact aware of some of the changes six weeks ago but did not object. This means that the cutbacks are not related to Dempsey’s statement a few days ago saying that he “won’t be complicit in Israeli strike on Iran”.
Ben Yishai’s article also mentions that close cooperation between the IDF and US military continues at every level, from the highest to the lowest.
In my opinion the Israeli military official’s statement to TIME magazine is more related to politics than the military aspects of the recent developments with regards to the manoeuvre.
Its very likely that people close to Prime Minister Netanyahu want to use this development to increase psychological pressure against Iran.
By trying to say that Obama doesn’t trust Israel, they want to tell the Iranians that “Obama doesn’t control us, this is why he doesn’t trust us. So be careful because the chances of an attack by Israel are not dependent on what he thinks”.
The other reason could be related to the bad blood between Netanyahu and Obama. The Likud and the Democrats have seldom gotten along. The Democrats have never liked Netanyahu. Bill Clinton’s relations with him were also very bad. Its very possible that by saying that Obama doesn’t trust Israel, the current Israeli government is trying to hurt his image.