Operation Shining Presence
The United States European Command deployed forces, including Patriot missile batteries, with associated command and control elements, to Israel during December 1998. The Patriot batteries, consisting of three groups with three launchers each, coordinated with existing Israeli Patriot units to augment air and theater missile defense capabilities. These were precautionary measures that demonstrated the United States' long-standing commitment to the security of Israel.
General Wesley K. Clark, U.S. Army, Commander in Chief, United States European Command, established Joint Task Force (JTF) Shining Presence to plan and execute this mission. The JTF Commander was Major General Julian H. Burns Jr., U.S. Army, Deputy Commanding General, V Corps.
Participating U.S. Units
- Elements of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
- Elements of the 21st TAACOM
- Elements of the 5th Signal Command
- Elements of the 422d Air Base Squadron, RAF Croughton, England
In the mid-November 1998 timeframe Israel expressed an interest in getting some additional Patriot batteries. There were none moved at that time.
A small number of Patriot batteries went to Israel as part of a deployment exercise. Several hundred soldiers left from Europe on December 10, 1998. They went to Israel, set up, exercised, and then came home. This was called an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise. The Patriot batteries continued their exercises there. They did some work with the Marines who were there as part of NOBLE SHIRLEY, and they also had some exercises to do on their own.
In response to questions as to whether the timing of the exercise was any way related to either the increased tensions with Iraq or President Clinton's scheduled visit to the Middle East, the Pentagon claimed that "the timing of the exercise is just when the exercise happened to be requested." The Patriots will go down there , set up, and then came back at the appropriate time. Although Pentagon officials said the deployment was only an exercise, but after the Patriots were in place, the United States launched a three-day series of airstrikes against Iraq that became known as Operation Desert Fox.
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