IDF Chief of Staff heading to Washington for talks on Iran, Hezbollah threats

IDF commander Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi will spend five days in Washington on his first official visit to the United States to discuss “common security challenges.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s top soldier, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will hold his first working visit in the United States next week as a guest of the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the IDF announced Friday.

During the five-day visit, Kochavi will be hosted by General Mark Milley and hold working meetings with senior members of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie, and Commander General Richard Clark of SOCOM – the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command that oversees clandestine and anti-terror operations around the world.

An IDF statement said Kochavi is expected to discuss “common security challenges,” including the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran’s military actions in the Middle East in general and particularly Iran’s proxy militia in Lebanon – the Hezbollah terror group – and its efforts to get Iranian precision missiles that threaten Israel.

Prior to the visit, the Pentagon had decided to transfer Israel from the U.S. military’s European theater to the Central Command, known as CENTCOM, based in the Arabian Gulf countries. CENTCOM has large facilities in the UAE and Bahrain, both of which recently signed peace treaties with Israel.

CENTCOM commander McKenzie visited Israel earlier this year, and Kochavi’s visit to Washington “is another step in strengthening the bond and increasing cooperation between the armies,” the IDF said.

The chief of staff will be accompanied by his wife, Yael, and the IDF military attaché in Washington, General Yehuda Fox, along with two other high-ranking IDF generals who will join the talks with senior Pentagon officials.

Aside from the defense meetings, Kochavi’s itinerary includes a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington Military Cemetery, a meeting with Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan, a visit to the CENTCOM base in Florida and a visit to the famous West Point U.S. military academy.

During a visit to Jerusalem earlier this month, Austin said “close consultations with Israel” were a top priority in addressing what he called the “shared challenges in the region.”

“The close and strong ties that we enjoy with Israel are central to regional stability and security in the Middle East, and we both agree that we must continue to work closely together to enhance the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership,” Austin said at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.