The newly confirmed commander of US military forces in the Middle East, US Army Gen. Michael Kurilla, spent a whole day with Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. He personally observed the “Chariots of Fire” exercise, which simulates a multi-front war against Iran.
In two weeks, Israeli Air Force fighter jets will simulate a strike on targets in Iran. It is expected for US mid-air refueling planes to participate.
Kurilla, who assumed his duties as the new CENTCOM chief only a month ago, found himself amid military exercises that reminded of the volatile conditions in the Middle East for which he is responsible, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Kurilla commands US forces that deal with 21 countries, extending from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Seychelles to Somalia, Sudan, and Egypt. The US included Israel in this group last year, after the Abraham Accords were signed.
Israeli sources pointed out that Kurilla showed great interest in the details of the Israeli exercises, given that they dealt with a multi-front war scenario of which Iranian proxies are a part, such as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Israeli leaders told Kurilla that the “Chariots of Fire” exercises, which began last week and will continue for four weeks, simulate a broad attack on Iran and its arms, especially in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Tuesday that even though the US still prefers the diplomatic track in dealing with Iran, it is considering the possibility of resorting to a military option at some stage.
The US Air Force is set to conduct air-to-air refueling of Israeli fighter jets as they simulate a strike on Iranian territory, Channel 13 reported.
Publicizing the US-Israel collaboration is potentially intended to send a message to Tehran amid stalled talks in Vienna about returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The US participation “constitutes a message to the Iranians, at a time when negotiations over the nuclear agreement with Iran is stuck,” said Channel 13’s report. “The Israeli message is that if the Americans don’t attack, at least they should assist Israel.”