A view of Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in front of port of Split, Croatia, November 7, 2022

A view of Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in front of port of Split, Croatia, November 7, 2022

US, Israel Kick Off Joint Massive Wargames Amid Iran Tensions

Monday, 01/23/2023

The United States and Israel Monday launched one of their biggest joint military war games, with thousands of forces, a dozen ships, and 142 aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers.

A senior US defense official says the "Juniper Oak" exercises, which will run through Friday, are meant to demonstrate integration between the US and Israeli militaries amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

However, the US official said there would be no mockups of Iranian targets and that the exercises were not oriented around any particular adversary.

"I do think that the scale of the exercise is relevant to a whole range of scenarios, and Iran may draw certain inferences from that," the official acknowledged.

"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."

The maneuvers will include live-fire exercises and involve 6,400 US forces, and Some 450 troops on the ground in Israel, the official underlined.

Drills will take place over large distances, involving land, sea, air and space, the official stated.

The planning for the exercises began only a couple of months ago, before conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regained top office on December 29.

The official said the drills would show how the United States could effectively surge large numbers of battle-ready forces into the Middle East, even as Washington focuses on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and intensifying competition with China.

Reporting by Reuters

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