Lazy eyes listen
On Monday, the US and Israeli militaries launched their largest-ever joint exercise, aiming to hone seamless coordination of their forces and demonstrate to Iran their readiness to fight a conflict in the Middle East even as Washington grapples with rising tensions with Russia and China.
“I do believe that the exercise’s scale is relevant to a wide range of scenarios, and Iran may draw certain inferences from that,” a senior US defense official told reporters. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Iran sees the scale and nature of these activities and realizes what the two of us are capable of.”
According to US Central Command, the exercise, dubbed Juniper Oak, will involve over 140 aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers and F-35 fighter jets, as well as 12 warships and approximately 7,500 troops (CENTCOM). Its purpose is to improve the “interoperability” of both forces.
“What we believe this exercise proves is that we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” an unidentified defense official told NBC News. Despite the Pentagon’s increased focus on China and its efforts to assist Ukraine in defeating Russian forces, he added, “we still have the excess capacity to flex to another high-priority area of responsibility and conduct an exercise on this scale.”
Juniper Oak is a multi-domain exercise that will include naval, land, air, space, and electronic warfare exercises. It will take place in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean Sea from Monday to Friday. According to reports, the US will use four HIMARS rocket launchers, laser-guided bombs, and stealth cruise missiles. The event will conclude with the firing of 180,000 pounds of live munitions in order to simulate an electronic attack and suppress enemy air defenses.
“This is a sign that we continue to have Israel’s back at a time when the region is rife with turbulence and instability,” the defense official said. “If there’s a sense that Americans are distracted, or that Americans are leaving the Middle East, and thus they have free rein for their malign activities, I think this will disabuse them,” the source added.