Warning to Iran: Joint US-Israel military exercise ‘most significant to date’

Juniper Oak 23 involves thousands of troops practicing land, sea, air, cyber and space drills in Israel in an implied warning to Iran.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The American military and the IDF began a week-long series of joint exercises Monday in Israel involving thousands of troops in every sphere of combat.

“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 U.S. Central Command (CentCom).

Some 6,400 American personnel are practicing military scenarios with about 1,100 Israeli soldiers. Most of the Americans are at sea with the participating U.S. carrier strike group, which will go on joint maneuvers against simulated maritime threats with six Israeli missile ships and a submarine.

In the air, over 140 planes, including the most advanced F-35 Stealth jets, B-52 bombers, F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles and refueling aircraft will fly “missions” together.

Electronic warfare exercises will test the joint abilities of the “armchair warriors” – one of the most important fronts in any future war.

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The drills will end with an extensive live-fire exercise simulating the overpowering of enemy air defenses both on the ground and in the sky, as well as ground forces’ use of both U.S. HIMARs long-range rockets and Israeli missile systems, and American laser-guided bombs.

The IDF spokesman made a point of noting that during the exercise there will be a considerable amount of military traffic throughout the country, and echoes of explosions will be heard in the South.

U.S. and Israeli spokespersons have said the simulations are “relevant to a whole range” of scenarios or regional threats, although a senior U.S. defense official acknowledged that “Iran may draw certain inferences from that. It’s really meant mostly to kick the tires on our ability to do things at this scale with the Israelis against a whole range of different threats.

“But, you know, it would not surprise me if Iran sees the scale and the nature of these activities and understands what the two of us are capable of doing.”

The 23rd rendition of Juniper Oak is “the most significant exercise between the United States and Israel to date,” the official said.

There is a second American message behind the massive exercise, according to a statement the official made to NBC News – this one directed to other parts of the world.

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“What we think this exercise demonstrates is we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” in being able to “flex to another high priority area of responsibility and conduct an exercise on this scale” in the Middle East while still being highly occupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and concerned over the growing threat perceived from China, the official said.