As Israel continues to increase its ties with regional states against the threat posed by Iran, US Central Command Chief Gen. Michael Kurilla is in Israel to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and other senior military officials.
The day-long visit marks Kurilla’s second since entering his position in April and according to the Israeli military, “is another addition to the series of meetings that promote cooperation between the US military to maintain security and stability in the Middle East, as well as to promote operational capabilities and initiatives.”
During his first visit in May, Kurilla participated in the IDF’s Chariots of Fire war games and met with senior officers to discuss issues related to joint challenges facing the US military and Israel. These included the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and the establishment of Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East.
According to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit, the current visit is a “complementary meeting following the strategic-operational forum between the two nations’ militaries last month and will focus on Israel’s aerial defense array.”
General Kurilla began his visit at the Israel Missile Defense Organization of the Israeli Ministry of Defense at the Palmachim Air Force Base, where he met with Kohavi and discussed regional security threats “as well as the need to maintain regional stability and protect the shared future of the two nations,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
Kurilla then participated in a professional panel to summarize the strategic-operational forum that took place last month between senior IDF and senior CENTCOM officials and representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He then visited the Defensive Sword Battalion of the IDF’s Air Defense Array and was briefed on the military’s multi-tiered aerial defense operations.
Following his visit to Palmachim, he went to Hatzor Airforce Base and was briefed on the country’s multi-layered air defense umbrella including the Iron Dome, Arrow 2, Arrow 3, and David’s Sling. He also visited the IDF’s Ballistic Image Management Center which is responsible for issuing warnings to the home front and the "Cobra" US military compound located on the base.
Kurilla’s visit also comes just days after US President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia. Shortly after Biden landed in Israel, he was given a tour of Israel’s multi-layered defense umbrella including the Iron Dome and Iron Beam laser system, which is still in development.
Following the visit, Kohavi said that the close partnership between the US Armed Forces and the IDF is because of shared interests in facing the threats and challenges of the region.
"Through cooperation with the US Central Command (CENTCOM), we have been able to promote an innovative regional defense system that will provide a broad and accurate operational response to the various security threats in the area. At the same time, we are training and developing a wide range of additional strike capabilities in the face of evolving threats,” Kohavi said, adding that “together with CENTCOM and the US military, we will continue our regional, operational and intelligence cooperation."
Middle East Air Defense (MEAD)
During the president’s visit last week, Biden was also briefed on regional challenges as well as the Middle East Air Defense (MEAD). Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said the program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries.
It is unclear which states in the region have joined. In a recent paper, Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir said the campaign to thwart Iran’s regional plans is taking place across the Middle East with a “regional alliance” of the US, Israel, the Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait), Egypt and Jordan, as well as Qatar, Oman, Sudan and Morocco.
Following Kurilla’s visit to Israel, Kohavi will head to Morocco for the first official visit by an IDF chief of staff to the North African kingdom.
During the three-day visit, Kohavi will meet with senior officials from the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces. He will be joined by the head of the IDF’s International Cooperation Division, Brig.-Gen. Efi Defrin, and the head of Military Intelligence’s Research Division, Brig.-Gen. Amit Saar.
“This visit is in addition to recent meetings and cooperation between the two countries, as part of the advancement of military-security cooperation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco”IDF
“This visit is in addition to recent meetings and cooperation between the two countries, as part of the advancement of military-security cooperation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco,” the military said.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi will replace Kohavi until he returns.
The meeting with Gantz focused on regional challenges, primarily Iran and its “destabilizing activities via proxies” and the Islamic Republic’s maritime aggression.
The two also discussed “new opportunities to deepen military ties and to facilitate cooperation with regional partners,” read a statement released by Gantz’s office.
Kurilla then participated in a professional panel to summarize the strategic-operational forum that took place last month between senior IDF and senior CENTCOM officials and representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He then visited the Defensive Sword Battalion of the IDF’s Air Defense Array and was briefed on the military’s multi-tiered aerial defense operations