Armed forces from the United States and Israel kicked off exercise Juniper Oak 23.2 in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on Monday.
According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the large-scale live-fire maneuver will involve strategic bombers, fifth-generation fighter aircraft, as well as various naval assets.
The live fire event will be attended by over 140 aircraft including B52s, F35s, F15s, F16s, FA-18s, AC-130, AH64s, 12 naval vessels, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
The 12 vessels taking part would be evenly distributed among the two countries, according to NBC, and will also include a US carrier strike group. NBC also quoted a senior US official saying that the drill was aimed at showing that the Pentagon remains committed to regions and matters not involving the Russian invasion in Ukraine and the rising threat from China.
“Consistent with CENTCOM’s strategic approach of people, partners, and innovation, we are committed to strengthening military-to-military relations throughout the region,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM. “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.”
Worth noting is that the drill will also involve Space Force assets, special operations forces, infantry and US and Israeli command and control with the aim of honing air operations in maritime surface warfare, combat search and rescue, electronic attack, suppression of enemy air defenses, strike coordination and reconnaissance and air interdiction.
“These kinds of exercises – which CENTCOM routinely conducts with our partners – develop interoperability between military forces, increase military capabilities, and are important to the security and stability of the region. The lessons learned during these exercises are exportable to our partners across the region,” Kurilla concluded.
While the US military has a long list of long-standing recurring exercises it conducts across the globe, the designation Juniper Oak appears to be a new one. With such a broad range of participating assets, it remains to be seen what kind of live-fire event or events will be carried out over the next week.