JERUSALEM – The US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are holding a large-scale military exercise in Israel this week. The exercises would be the most significant bilateral show of force between the two nations to date.
“Juniper Oak is a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise that enhances our interoperability on land, air, sea, space and cyberspace with our partners, enhances our ability to respond to contingencies and our commitment to Middle East underlined.” East.” General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM said in a statement.
The statement continued: “These types of exercises – which CENTCOM conducts routinely with our partners – develop interoperability between armed forces, enhance military capabilities and are important for the security and stability of the region. The lessons learned during these exercises can be exported to our partners in the region.”
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A new report from Ryan Brobst, a research analyst at FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power, stated: “The Biden administration wants Tehran to understand that the United States has both the military resources and the political will to stand with Israel and safeguard US interests in the region and conduct successful large-scale strikes if necessary.”
The FDD report said the exercise was significant, noting, “The scope, complexity, and size of this exercise should assure Israelis, Americans, and their regional partners, while adversaries think twice before launching aggression.”
CENTCOM said the US contributed about 6,400 personnel, with about 450-500 US military personnel training at up to 10 bases in Israel, most of them operating at sea on six US ships, including the USS George HW Bush carrier strike group.
The Israelis have deployed more than 1,000 soldiers and officers, six ships and a significant number of aircraft, including F-35Is, F-16s, F-15s, G550 reconnaissance aircraft, B707 refueling aircraft, UAVs and helicopters.
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Earlier on Wednesday, one of the highlights of the exercise occurred when 100 tons of bunker-piercing bombs fell in short order in a designated area in southern Israel, mimicking an “Iranian nuclear facility” according to Israel’s Channel 12. The troops also practiced a quick exit to minimize the potential threat from the ground to the Israeli pilots.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, visited the IAF Command and Control to witness the various joint exercises.
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“The exercise demonstrates the indisputable strategic partnership between Israel and the United States and is another step in building Israeli military power,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will always defend itself alone, but of course welcomes the intensification of cooperation with our great ally.”
Israel joined CENTCOM in September 2021 after years of being part of the European Command, which improved communication and coordination between Israel and other U.S. allies in the region in the fight against Iran, primarily the Arab armies, following the Abrahamic chords.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the crucial American commitment to fighting Iran’s nuclear ambitions during a meeting with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
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“Our talks focused on the regional security challenges, particularly Iran, and ways of cooperation between us against this common threat,” the prime minister noted.
“I was impressed that there is a sincere and mutual desire to reach agreement on this issue, which is critical to the security of the state,” Netanyahu explained.
Yonat Friling is a senior field producer for Fox News Middle East. You can follow her @FrilingYonat