American Defense Official: Relationship With Israel Makes US Safer


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.The US-Israel defense relationship makes America safer, a US defense official wrote in Defense One on Monday.

This, wrote Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy Matt Spence, is because of Israel’s superior Mideast capabilities, which provide the US with critical intelligence and technology, as well as military expertise. Just last week, Reuters reported that Israel and Jordan carried out joint air force exercises in the US.

However, Spence said, the US-Israel relationship should go “beyond dollars for the Israeli defense budget.” The US currently provides Israel with $3.1 billion in “Foreign Military Financing” every year, as part of a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding set to expire in 2018.

Spence said the US and Israel should negotiate a “new Security Memorandum of Understanding,” which is a formal guarantee for “US security assistance to Israel” for at least the next decade.

Spence’s comment came as President Barack Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Monday for their first direct meeting in over a year. Netanyahu was apparently seeking to raise US military assistance, perhaps setting the parameters for the next 10-year memorandum that would last until the end of 2017.

The deputy assistant defense secretary called for an “Innovation Race” based out of Silicon Valley and Israel’s so-called “Silicon Wadi,” the stretch of coastal plain where much of the Jewish state’s famous high-tech industry is based. He said the US and Israel should “innovate together against our enemies.”

The US should also sit down with its close Mideast allies — Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — to asses common threats in the region, such as ISIS and Iran, said Spence. The countries should analyze the region in terms of Russia’s growing military involvement in Syria, he said, as well as the impact of ISIS on Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.