'Iranian drones are a threat in the region' - US CENTCOM head

General Michael “Erik” Kurilla said that one of CENTCOM’s task forces, Task Force 39, is responsible for land-based operations.

  CENTCOM commander Michael Kurilla and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi visit Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, November 15, 2022. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
CENTCOM commander Michael Kurilla and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi visit Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, November 15, 2022.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

WASHINGTON – US Central Command head, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla‏‏, said on Thursday that the US “Iranian drones are a threat in the region.”

“Iran commands an arsenal of drone systems ranging from small, short-range to modern intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units,” he said. “They are building larger drones that can fly further with increasingly deadly payloads. We see the UVs of today the same way we viewed IEDs during our initial conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The American commitment to the region used to be measured by boots on the ground,” he said in a press briefing. “That is the old way of thinking. Rather, it should be measured by the strength of our partnerships.”

Speaking about the importance of innovation in CENTCOM’s philosophy, he said that it “will extend the value of our partnerships, fill some of the gaps in resources, and allow us to move faster.”

Kurilla said that one of CENTCOM’s task forces, Task Force 39, is responsible for land-based operations.

US CENTCOM commander General Michael Kurilla visits the USS West Virginia, October 19, 2022 (credit: US CENTCOM)US CENTCOM commander General Michael Kurilla visits the USS West Virginia, October 19, 2022 (credit: US CENTCOM)

“Task Force 39 is also looking at new technology to defeat Iranian drones,” he said. “We want to serve as the experimentation center for new drone-defeat systems, ideas and technology.

Speaking about the inclusion of Israel in CENTCOM last year, Kurilla said that it “presents massive opportunities.”

“Israel and the Arab militaries, as it turns out, are seeing the same threats. They have common cause. And very quickly, stunning new partnerships were formed in the Gulf militaries and Israel. So looking ahead, I expect the region in CENTCOM covered to be again globally among the most dynamic regions.”

Iran's proxy activity

Kurilla also addressed Iran’s proxy activity, saying that the Islamic Republic “continues to undermine regional security and stability through militia groups, ballistic missile capabilities, UAVs, and routine threats to international waterways.”

“Iran continues to violate sanctions, embargoes, proliferate weapons to its network of proxies and affiliates, and seize shipping in international waters,” he said.

“Iran continues to spread chaos through violent proxy groups funded by Tehran. And these Iranian aligned groups routinely strike at American troops and our partners in Iraq and Syria.”

For more than 40 years, he said, “the Iranian regime has funded and aggressively supported terrorism and terrorist organizations and defied international norms by conducting malign activities while destabilizing not only the region, but global security and commerce as well.”

"The Iranian regime has funded and aggressively supported terrorism and terrorist organizations and defied international norms by conducting malign activities while destabilizing not only the region, but global security and commerce as well.”

General Michael “Erik” Kurilla

He added, “We don’t have the enormous number of planes, ships, troops, and air defense systems we had in the region just five years ago. Instead, we’ve got to cultivate deep-abiding partnerships that can serve as a hedge against threats in the region while deterring Iran from its worst, most destructive behavior. For China and Russia, partnerships to them are transactional relationships. For CENTCOM, our partnerships are values-based relationships.”