The Israel Defense Forces and United States Central Command on Monday kicked off a large-scale joint exercise in Israel and over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the two militaries announced.
The drill, dubbed Juniper Oak 2023, will involve over 140 aircraft, 12 naval vessels, and artillery systems from both nations and last until Friday, CENTCOM said in a statement.
A senior US defense official told NBC News that the drill was aimed at showing adversaries, such as Iran, that Washington is not too distracted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threats from China to mobilize a large military force.
“This exercise strengthens collective US-Israeli readiness and improves the interoperability of both forces, thereby contributing to regional stability. Exercises like Juniper Oak show that interoperability and integration represent the improved security in the region,” CENTCOM said.
“The exercise will test joint Israeli-US readiness and improve the operational relationship between the two armies,” the IDF said in a statement. General Michael Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM, said the drill “enhances our ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores our commitment to the Middle East.”