Israeli and U.S. service members concluded Juniper Cobra 14, a five-day bilateral computer-simulated defense exercise, May 22.

The exercise focused on interoperability between the Israeli Defense Forces and U.S. European Command while enhancing Israel’s qualitative military edge. While the defensive exercise scenario encompassed the overall situation in the Middle East, JC14 is not related to any specific current events.

Hundreds of both nations’ soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen gathered at Hatzor Air Base May 22 for the closing ceremony and parade to mark the end of the seventh large-scale ballistic missile defense exercise between the U.S. and Israel since reaching a 2001 bilateral agreement to hold regular training.

“The completion of JC14 is another milestone in our militaries’ long road of cooperation, which helps us improve the way we cooperate, coordinate and cope together with regional challenges,” said Israeli Maj. Gen. Yoav Har-Even, IDF head of operations. “The strategic relationship between Israel and the United States of America constitutes a major pillar in our national security based on mutual interests and shared values of freedom and human rights. This special relationship enables us to always be one step ahead of our enemies and maintain our military advantage. Our soldiers sitting together shoulder-to-shoulder, acting professionally as one unit–I was impressed from the mutual commitment to the mission.”

Throughout the exercise, both nations’ service members focused on a variety of computer-assisted simulations ranging from defense, crisis resupply, foreign disaster response and foreign humanitarian assistance as part of EUCOM’s largest exercise of 2014.

“I’m very impressed with what we’ve done together in the months leading up to this exercise and especially our performance over the last two weeks,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, commander of U.S. European Command’s Joint Defense Forces Israel. “Juniper Cobra 14 exemplifies our enduring partnership and a promise to Israel that the United States stands firm with them and their defense.”

The exercise also included visits from Israeli and U.S. leaders, including a May 15 troop event at Hatzor Air Base by both nations’ secretaries of defense.

“We are here to witness what we are talking about when we claim about the unshakable bond between the U.S. as the greatest democracy all over the world, and the state of Israel, the only democracy in our tough neighborhood, the Middle East,” said Israeli Secretary of Defense Moshe Ya’alon at the May 15 event. “We can cope with it as we cooperate together, collaborate together, learning from each other, developing systems to defend our interests. And that’s the best demonstration of how two countries defend their interests, but defend also their values.”

“You are defining an important time in our world as we go forward,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the May 15 event. “This is as complicated and dangerous a part of the world as there is. And what you’re doing as you build for the future, and give people hope for that future, is one of the most important assignments any of us can ever have in our lifetime.”

The exercise immersed both militaries into a five-day, computer-assisted exercise through simulations aimed at providing quality training in ballistic missile defense, crisis resupply, foreign disaster response and foreign humanitarian assistance.

“The combination of the most technologically advanced weapons systems on the ground, in the sea and in space, professional soldiers from both forces and the combined use of both militaries’ doctrines help us achieve the goals of the exercise and finish with impressive results,” said IDF Brig. Gen. Shachar Shohat, the Air Defense Forces commander. “I can honestly say today we are ready if the order is given. With a strong sense of responsibility and professional appreciation for our achievement, I’m absolutely certain of our ability to effectively and efficiently protect the state of Israel and its citizens.”

The American contingent comprised of more than 700 U.S. service members working alongside their Israeli counterparts, as well as more than 1,300 Americans participating in the exercise throughout Europe and the United States.

“Over the many years, the U.S. has partnered with Israel to conduct bilateral military exercises,” Williams said. “Juniper Cobra, while one of the largest, is only one of many of these important collaborations. These shared experiences add to our common understanding of the global security environment in which we operate and help to foster a more secure environment throughout this region. We can leave here assured the steps we took this week to improve our combined interoperability have made a significant, positive impact. But the work is not finished. As we conclude JC14, we must all leave here with the understanding the only real and true lesson learned is that we are forever brothers- and sisters-in-arms, united together in the common defense of this great country.”