Israel, U.S. begin large-scale military drills in show of strength

Guy Azriel

Senior News Desk Manager | @GuyAz

3 min read
An Israeli soldier in Ashkelon, Israel.
AP Photo/Tsafrir AbayovAn Israeli soldier in Ashkelon, Israel.

The drill is described as “the most significant exercise between the United States and Israel to date"

Israel's army and the U.S. Central Command announced today the beginning of a massive joint military exercise in the Jewish state, aimed to show adversaries like Iran that Washington is not distracted by the war in Ukraine nor by the threat from China to mobilize a large military force, according to a senior defense official.

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Dubbed the "Juniper Oak" exercise, the drill is “the most significant exercise between the United States and Israel to date" and will involve over 140 aircraft, 12 naval vessels, and artillery systems from both nations and will last until Friday, CENTCOM said in a statement.

In a statement, Israel's army said Juniper Oak is meant to "test U.S.-Israeli readiness and improve the interoperability of both forces, as well as target strikes and training in complex terrain while integrating joint communications and command and control systems."

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Senior CENTCOM officials will visit the sites of the exercise throughout the week. The operation is an additional layer of defense that strengthens and trains the multi-branch and international methods of action among the militaries to counter a variety of regional threats

Under the previous Israeli chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, Israel was transferred from the U.S. European Command area of responsibility to CENTCOM, allowing more coordination with its Arab neighbors.

CENTCOM Commander, General Michael Erik Kurill, met last week with Israel's new Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Kochavi at their exchange ceremony and also held a meeting with Israel’s new Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv.

The United States Central Command said that in the meeting, Kurill discussed common threats, ways to strengthen ties between the two militaries, and an upcoming joint training exercise.

Back in January 2021, the Pentagon announced the transfer of Israel from the U.S. European Command to the Central Command. The decision was made to promote regional security arrangements, particularly in the face of threats from Iran.

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Last week, it was revealed that the U.S. transferred American weapons and ammunition stored in Israel for use in Ukraine. The stockpile provides arms and ammunition for the Pentagon to use in conflicts in the region. Washington has also allowed Israel to access the stockpile's supply in emergencies.

An Israeli army spokesman said the U.S. notified Israel about the move, that the weapons are American-owned, and that the move was “American business” and did not require Israeli permission.

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