The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush and its carrier strike group wrapped up exercise Juniper Oak in the Mediterranean Thursday, concluding the largest joint exercise between the U.S. and Israel to date.
The exercise aimed to facilitate interoperability and readiness between the two countries, according to the Navy. Specifically, the drills featured a live fire exercise with more than 140 aircraft, 12 naval assets, High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
Likewise, the exercise included missions such as air operations in maritime surface warfare, combat search and rescue, and suppression of enemy air defenses.
“These kinds of exercises — which [U.S. Central Command] routinely conducts with our partners — develop interoperability between military forces, increase military capabilities, and are important to the security and stability of the region,” Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM, said in a Navy news release. “The lessons learned during these exercises are exportable to our partners across the region.”
The exercise involved approximately 6,400 U.S. troops and more than 1,500 Israeli personnel.
The carrier Bush deployed from Naval Station Norfolk in August for its first deployment since 2017 after completing a 30-month maintenance period. Its carrier strike group includes the guided-missile destroyers Nitze, Truxtun, Farragut and Delbert D. Black, the guided-missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, and Carrier Air Wing 7.
The Department of Defense reallocated Israel to CENTCOM’s area of operations in September 2021, rather than U.S. European Command.
“It’s remarkable that Israel’s transition to and partnership with U.S. Central Command is less than 18 months old,” Kurilla said. “Only through a firm commitment to this partnership are we able to plan and organize such an incredibly complex high-end operation across such a large geographic area integrating all aspects of warfighting, some of which are seen and some of which are not.”