18:49 GMT +317 December 2018
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    This Sept. 6, 2016, photo released by the U.S. Marine Corps shows Marines with the 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion aboard AAV-7 Amphibious Assault vehicles during an exercise on the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn.

    US Marines Train with Allies in Israel, Romania to Respond to Regional Threats

    © AP Photo/ Lance Cpl. Jered Stone
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    Last week, members of a US Marine Corps unit began training simultaneously with allies in Israel and Romania to improve their tactical skills.

    The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) supports the US Navy's Sixth Fleet and is one of seven Marine expeditionary units. The unit began exercises last week, Stars and Stripes reported. 

    The Juniper Cobra exercises in Israel, intended to sharpen missile defenses through computer simulations and through land and sea drills, involved around 2,500 US military personnel from all services. Last week, Marines trained with the Israeli military and practised ship-to-shore movements from the USS Iwo Jima, an amphibious assault vessel.

    "The US is deeply committed to the defense of Israel," said Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, head of US European Command, in a recent statement obtained by Stars and Stripes.

    "We will continue to work alongside them to promote stability throughout the region, not only for the purposes of this exercise, but in the event of any real-world contingency," the statement added.

    During the Spring Storm exercises in Romania last week, the Marines practiced shooting on a live-fire range and maneuvering in urban terrain with the Romanian army, Captain Nancy Poggemeyer, a 26th MEU spokeswoman, reported. 

    They also conducted a simulated amphibious assault, employing naval ships to project ground and air power onto enemy shores. The Marines also trained with the Romanian women's unit, using live fire and non-lethal weapons and drilling on patrolling and handling detainees.

    "Exercises like this allow us to build our capability to work together to respond to threats in the region," Poggemeyer recently told Stars and Stripes.

    Tensions between Washington and Moscow have simmered ever since the US Navy installed a missile defense station in Romania in 2016 and started building another station in Poland a year later.

    The Kremlin claims that the $800 million missile shield in Romania is a provocative show of force by the US in the Black Sea, which is home to a Russian naval fleet, and is aimed to blunt its missile program, Reuters reported.

    US officials, however, state that the purpose of the site is to shoot down rockets from adversaries like Iran that could one day also reach European cities like Bucharest.

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    allies, foreign, exercise, military, Israel, Romania
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