Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi led an honor guard at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv to receive the new commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), Maj. Gen. Michael Kurilla, on his first official visit to Israel.

The visit will focus on “U.S.-Israel cooperation, maintaining regional stability and dealing with joint operational threats and challenges,” the Israeli military said in a statement. Israel officially moved from the European Command (EUCOM) to CENTCOM on Sept. 1, 2021.

During his visit, Kurilla will also observe the IDF’s “Chariots of Fire” exercise, according to the IDF.

The month-long drill is the largest held by the Israeli military in decades and will simulate “intense multi-arena combat in the air, at sea, on land and in the cyber arena,” according to the military. Originally scheduled for May 2021, it was delayed by the outbreak of fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Tuesday that as part of the exercise, in two weeks Israeli Air Force fighter jets will simulate a strike on targets in Iran, together with U.S. mid-air refueling planes.

The U.S. participation “constitutes a message to the Iranians, at a time when negotiations over the nuclear agreement with Iran is stuck,” said the report. “The Israeli message is that if the Americans don’t attack, at least they should assist Israel.”

JNS

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