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American Forces Press Service

Carter, Israeli Leaders Reaffirm Defense Relationship

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 22, 2013 – During Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter's first official trip to Israel, he and senior security officials here reaffirmed that the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship has never been stronger and agreed to continuing close consultations on shared security interests.

Carter's visit this week, made to discuss a range of issues of mutual importance -- including the unfolding situations in Syria and Iran -- comes a month after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon's June visit to Washington, where he met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Hagel visited Israel in April.

The deputy secretary also met with Ya'alon, Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and other senior officials. Director-General of the Ministry of Defense Udi Shani hosted an official dinner for Carter.

As part of the visit, Carter took a helicopter tour of some of Israel's security challenges, and received briefings and observed demonstrations of tactical capabilities in several areas near Tel Aviv, including the Mitkan Adam Army Base, an Israel Defense Force special training installation.

Among the elite training schools at the installation are the IDF Counterterrorism Warfare School, the IDF Snipers School, and the IDF Canine Unit, or Oketz Unit, whose logo is a winged dog head. The dogs of the unit are the special operations equivalents of canine assistants -- they climb, they crawl, they tiptoe across logs, they even fast-rope down from heights with their handlers, making no sound at all.

Israeli ground forces discussed their use of canine partners in a range of operations -- finding roadside bombs, hidden adversaries, and contraband smuggled in all kinds of vehicles -- and in performing many other kinds of jobs.

A couple of miles away, next to a rocky, shrub-covered hill, the sun beat down on a two-story building. Nearby is a narrow wooden structure built only for fast-roping. This remote part of Camp Adam has been scene of many canine and special operations training operations, and yesterday afternoon Carter watched as they showed him how they like to work.

Afterward, Carter spoke briefly to the troops before shaking their hands and presenting them with commemorative coins from his office.

"Protecting America means protecting Israel, and that's why we're here in the first place," he said. "But this is the fun part," he added, indicating the tactical demonstration area and the fit, skilled men and women in uniform, some with their dogs and some still dressed in garb that disguised them as boulders and bushes.

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