The Juniper Oak drills include 140 aircraft from Israel and the U.S., in addition to high mobility artillery rocket systems, which will take part in live-fire exercises.
By United with Israel Staff
On Monday, Israel and U.S. launched the Juniper Oak 2023 military exercises, which primarily take place in the skies over the eastern portions of the Mediterranean Sea.
The drills take place against a backdrop of escalating tensions with Iran, which continues to develop its nuclear program while arming and training terror proxies across the region, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.
While Iran has also attempted to hatch assassination plots targeting Israelis and Americans abroad, the Islamic Republic’s hit squads have been thwarted in Turkey, Cyprus, and Georgia.
In addition to their strategic importance, the Juniper Oak drills are also seen as a means for Israel and the U.S. to send a Iran a clear message about preparedness and military might.
To that end, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently commented that in “in the face of Iranian and proxy attacks on sovereign nations” the Jewish state will coordinate even more closely with its American allies.
On Tuesday, JNS.org reported that the Juniper Oak drills include a “live-fire event with more than 140 aircraft including B-52s, F-35s, F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, AC-130 Hercules transports, AH-64 Apache helicopters, 12 naval vessels, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.”
“Consistent with CENTCOM’s strategic approach of People, Partners, and Innovation, we are committed to strengthening military-to-military relations throughout the region,” said CENTCOM Commander Gen. Michael (Erik) Kurilla in comments published by JNS.
Kurilla added, “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.”
Prior to 2021, CENTCOM’s purview did not include Israel, which fell under European Command (EUCOM). Israel’s alliances with Arab nations, such as the Unitedd Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, and heightening tensions with Iran, have caused realignment in the region.
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