HATZOR, Israel — For one U.S. Army Europe officer here participating in exercise Juniper Cobra 2010, Israel means more than just another place to train -- it is also the country where his family lives.
Dr. (Maj.) Sean Fortson of the Miesau, Germany-based 212th Combat Support Hospital, is here serving as the doctor for the joint task force participating in the exercise. The major said being here means greater security for his family, who live in a country that is a no stranger to war.
"It feels good to be part of a joint effort and the joint cooperation with one of our closest allies, but [it] also provides defense for my family," said Fortson. During the exercise Fortson is running the aid station at Camp Cobra, where the living support area for JC10 is located.
Fortson met his wife while of six years while working in the region. They have two children and a third on the way.
Fortson's family lives on a kibbutz -- an Israeli collective farm where residents share the work of living in the community and the profits from business ventures -- through the school year. During that time the major visits them every two months, and in the summer they live with him in Germany, where he works in the emergency room Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
While his wife emigrated to Israel from the United States when she was very young and holds Israeli and American citizenship, she wanted the family to experience the life and culture here, the major explained.
"My wife felt very passionately that she wanted them to have an Israeli identity," he said. He also said he wants American service members to understand the relationship between Israel and the U.S.
"What I want service members to realize is the very close friendship the Israelis and the United States have," he said. "The Israeli people really do appreciate America's help and they are really warm, loving people that just want to live in peace."
Juniper Cobra is a combined air defense exercise designed to improve interoperability between the United States and Israeli forces.