The US and Israel have begun a military training exercise, which aims to strengthen the combined work of the two armies and “contribute to regional stability”, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and CENTCTOM - the branch of the US defense department that oversees the country’s military operations in the Middle East and parts of Asia – are carrying out Exercise Juniper Oak 23.2 in Israel and the East Mediterranean Sea, CENTCOM said in a press release.
“Juniper Oak is a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise which improves our interoperability on land, in the air, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace with our partners, enhances our ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores our commitment to the Middle East,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM.
The exercise will include a large-scale live fire event with more than 140 aircrafts, 12 naval vessels, rocket and rocket launch systems.
Kurilla earlier in January met with senior Israeli military and defense officials to discuss regional threats.
Washington has been pushing for an integrated missile and air defense system among Israel and its Arab neighbors in the face of growing Iranian threats. Bomb-laden drones and unmanned aerial vehicles have been a strength of Tehran’s in recent years, and the Pentagon believes that sharing of intel and coordination can help better counter these threats.