Senior IDF officials in Tampa to meet with CENTCOM generals

The commanders discussed regional operational cooperation, discussed common challenges facing the two militaries, and deepened their operational readiness and strategic dialog.

 IDF and CENTCOM officials meeting in Tampa (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
IDF and CENTCOM officials meeting in Tampa
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)

As diplomats continue to work on a possible Iranian nuclear deal in Vienna, the head of the IDF’s Operations Division, as well as Strategy and Third Circle Division, are in Florida to meet with senior US Central Command generals.

The head of the Operations Division, Maj.-Gen. Oded Basiok and the head of the IDF’s Strategy and Third Circle Division, Maj.-Gen. Tal Kalman, are currently visiting CENTCOM’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Basiok and Kalman – along with IDF Defense Attaché to Washington Maj.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman and International Cooperation Division head Brig.-Gen. Effie Defrin – met with Operations of the Central Command Director Maj.-Gen. Grynkewich, Strategy of the Central Command Director Maj.-Gen. Benedict, and US CENTCOM Deputy Commander V.-Adm. James Malloy.

“The IDF officials held an operational and strategic meeting to discuss the challenges facing both militaries and deepened operational readiness through strategic dialogue,” the IDF said in a statement.

Later this week, the officers will hold additional meetings with senior American security officials.

CENTCOM Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (credit: Wikimedia Commons)CENTCOM Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Though announced in January of last year, Israel formally moved from US European Command (EUCOM) to CENTCOM in September.

“The realignment strengthens the strategic US-Israeli defense relationship and offers opportunities to deepen operational collaboration between the Israel Defense Forces and CENTCOM’s many partners in the region,” CENTCOM said in a statement at the time.

It is believed the move will not only simplify the cooperation with American troops in the region but can also create the potential for a regional coalition with Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel against shared threats posed by Iran.

As part of EUCOM, Israel was able to work closely with European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but had limited interaction with Arab armies that were part of CENTCOM.

The third circle directorate was formed as part of the IDF’s Momentum plan and under Kalman, it aims to bolster the IDF’s attack capabilities, increase the military’s intelligence superiority and expand its intelligence gathering on the Islamic Republic including by satellites as well as bolster Israel’s cyber capabilities.

While Israel’s diplomats are working around the clock to influence the United States, England and France on the talks, Israel’s defense establishment has been preparing for a worst-case scenario.

Israel’s military has not only increased training for troops and reserve forces, it has also begun conducting drills with Gulf Arab states who have signed normalization accords with Israel.

In November, in a clear message to Iran, Israel took part in a multilateral maritime security drill in the Red Sea along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and US Naval Forces Central Command’s in the Red Sea.

In recent comments, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “Our other obligation is to build a military force, which is an important issue by itself. I ordered [the military] to improve its force build-up, in parallel to our discussions with our strategic partners.”