This evening (Thursday) marked the conclusion of the Juniper Oak 23.2 joint exercise of the IDF and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
The exercise tested collective U.S.-Israeli readiness and improved the interoperability of both militaries to enhance their shared ability to counter regional threats. The exercise simulated target strikes and complex operational scenarios by integrating joint communication and command and control systems.
Approximately 6,500 U.S. Armed Forces officers and soldiers took part in this exercise, which was the largest ever performed by the U.S. Armed Forces. The exercise showcased some of the most advanced capabilities of the militaries and is the first in a series of exercises to be held in 2023.
The exercise began with a joint aerial and naval live fire exercise, including missile boats and combat helicopters, during which forces carried out coordinated strikes at targets simulating naval threats.
The two air forces then simulated a range of different scenarios using fighter, transport and aerial refueling aircraft, rescue helicopters, RPAs, reconnaissance aircraft and American B-52 bombers, which dropped live munitions across southern Israel.
Israeli Navy missile boats and a submarine maneuvered in tandem alongside an American aircraft carrier as a unified task force with defensive and striking capabilities against a variety of threats.
Israeli Sa'ar 5-class corvettes were refueled by an American tanker in offshore waters to increase the IDF's area and range of operation in both routine and emergency scenarios.
In addition, fighter jets and bombers were refueled by Israeli "Re’em" refueling aircraft and American KC-46 refueling tankers, the future refueling aircraft of the IAF.
The air forces simulated the rescue of an abandoned pilot in a mountainous and complex area of the Golan Heights, where USAF personnel rescued an IAF pilot.
The Israeli Ground Forces and U.S. Army conducted a joint training drill consisting of ground maneuvering and dozens of rocket launches, during which long-range rockets were launched from the American HIMARS and launchers in the Israeli Artillery Corps’ Rocket Array.
The exercise ended with a hotwash led by the commander of U.S. General Command, General ( * * * * ) Michael "Erik" Kurilla, and the IDF Chief of the General Staff, MG Herzi Halevi, which was conducted aboard an American aircraft carrier in the middle of the sea. The hotwash was also attended by commanders from the IDF General Staff, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, the commander of Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central), and the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. The commanders reviewed the activity of the air, ground and naval forces in the exercise and the joint training descriptors. Many operational capabilities that were reflected in the exercise were also presented during the hotwash.
Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi, said: "Israel and the U.S. share the same values, and the IDF and CENTCOM share the same outlook on the threats facing this region. The Juniper Oak 23.2 exercise has raised our level of planning and implementation of combined operations. Israel is capable of defending itself, but it's always good to have our greatest partner beside us to learn from one another. This operational partnership strengthens our ability to deal with a wide range of security challenges in the region. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the commanders and soldiers of CENTCOM who were here with us throughout the past week, and especially General Kurilla, for a wonderful partnership. We were great; now we are even better.”
Commander of U.S. Central Command, General ( * * * * ) Michael “Erik” Kurilla, said: “Our strategic partnerships in the region, to include our longstanding ironclad partnership with the IDF are critical to regional security, and stability offered through this level of partnership. The IDF maintains cutting-edge weapons systems, operates with the highest level of professionalism, and wields a first-class combat capability. Over the past five days, we have significantly improved our shared ability to respond to regional threats. The U.S. remains committed to the security of Israel and supports Israel’s qualitative military edge.”