July 27, 2023 | Flash Brief

CENTCOM and Israel Coordinate on Increased Threats from Iran

July 27, 2023 | Flash Brief

CENTCOM and Israel Coordinate on Increased Threats from Iran

Latest Developments

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla visited Israel from July 25-27, meeting with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant and the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi. They discussed regional security concerns and progress in bilateral security cooperation. After the visit, Gen. Kurilla noted, “Significant progress has been made in interoperability between the IDF and U.S. Central Command in the short time Israel has been part of the CENTCOM area of responsibility.”

The visit follows a phone call between U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Gallant on July 25. Gallant assured Austin of the IDF’s readiness and capability to face various security threats, particularly amidst domestic unrest in Israel. Austin reiterated America’s commitment to Israel’s security and discussed initiatives to deepen military cooperation.

These touch points come amidst heightened tensions in the Middle East. Last week, the Pentagon sent the USS Thomas Hudner guided-missile destroyer, F-16s, F-35s, and the BATAAN Amphibious Readiness Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) to the region as a response to Iranian attempts to seize commercial ships. With large protests in Israel, officials on both sides have feared additional Iranian provocation against the Jewish state.

Expert Analysis

“As political tumult and political leaders come and go in the United States and Israel, the two militaries have continued — and will continue — to deepen their cooperation with one another, understanding that both countries are safer when they work together to secure enduring and common interests in the face of growing dangers.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Despite naive attempts by the Biden White House to throw money at Tehran in the name of ‘deescalation,’ U.S. and Israeli defense leaders remain clear-eyed about the growing threats posed by the Islamic Republic and the need for close coordination as those threats evolve.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

A Full Itinerary

In addition to his meetings with Gallant and Halevi, Kurilla met with leaders of the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, the IDF Intelligence Directorate, and other specialized units. Kurilla last visited Israel in May to observe Israel’s multi-front conflict exercise known as Firm Hand.

U.S.-Israeli Military Cooperation Grows

As Iran inches toward a nuclear weapon capability and continues its support for terrorist proxies throughout the region, the United States and Israel have deepened their security cooperation even further in recent months. The two militaries concluded a four-day combined training in Israel on July 14 as the third installment of the Juniper Oak series of exercises, focusing on capabilities relevant to a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. In January, the United States and Israel conducted the largest U.S.-Israeli military exercise in history, which included more than 140 aircraft, 6,400 American troops, and 1,500 Israeli troops.

Earlier this year, Israel announced that it would buy 25 additional F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from the United States to add to its fleet of 50. It is also procuring KC-46 Pegasus tankers to enhance Israel’s aerial refueling capabilities. Both technologies would likely play a central role in an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

How to increase deterrence messaging to Iran with the next US-Israel military exercise,” by Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst

U.S. Boosts Middle East Combat Power to Deter Iranian Maritime Aggression,” FDD Flash Brief

In Major Reversal, U.S. Lifts Restraints on Iranian Income From Electricity Sales,” FDD Flash Brief

Eyeing Iran, U.S. and Israeli Air Forces Hone Long-Range Strike Skills,” FDD Flash Brief


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