Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced a bill on Thursday that would enhance cooperation between the United States and Israel on developing defense technology.
The United States Israel Military Capability Act would require the U.S. secretary of defense to establish a working group that includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, intelligence community and their appropriate counterparts as selected by the Israeli government.
“For decades, robust defense cooperation has been a cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Cotton. “This legislation will further strengthen our cooperation in military research and development, helping to secure both the United States and Israel from emerging threats and ensuring that our warfighters maintain a decisive technological advantage over our foes.”
Peters said “as an ally, Israel has both a thriving defense innovation base and extensive real-world experience against modern security threats. Improving existing cooperation in a systematic way will not only improve our response to national security threats, but save the lives of both American and Israeli service members and citizens.”
The working group would evaluate shared security concerns and help forge combined plans to research, develop, procure and field military capabilities to address these threats. It may also seek input from American or Israeli defense manufacturers on how to integrate needed technology from the private sector.
The bill builds on a letter Cotton and Peters sent to the Department of Defense earlier this year urging the agency to establish partnerships with their Israeli counterparts.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March, Peters asked U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about the concept of creating such a group.
“We have a very good innovative base, [the Israelis] have a very good innovative base,” replied Esper. “And I think the more we can cooperate together as allies and partners to come up with common solutions, the better, so I think if there are ways to improve that, we should pursue it.”