US and Israel launch largest military exercise ever despite concerns over Netanyahu's government

CNN —The US and Israel launched their largest joint military exercise ever on Monday, sending a clear signal to Iran and underscoring the strength of their alliance despite concerns over the composition of the new Israeli government which includes ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious parties.
The live-fire exercise, named Juniper Oak, will include 100 US aircraft with fighters, bombers and refueling aircraft flying alongside 42 Israeli aircraft.
“We can’t really find another (exercise) that even kind of comes close,” said a senior US defense official.
Nearly 6,500 US personnel will participate in the exercise, as well as more than 1,100 Israeli personnel, the official said.
The US official acknowledged the possibility for disagreements with the nascent government but stressed the non-negotiable bipartisan commitment to Israel.
“The security commitment that we have to Israel is irrespective of the particular personalities and particular government,” the US official said.
Exercise came together quicklyThe exercise, which marks a major increase in cooperation between the US and Israeli militaries, came together quickly, the official said, especially for something of this scale.
Normally, such a large exercise involving so many different forces would take a year or more of planning, but his exercise came together in two months, the official said.
Despite the shift and the burgeoning ties between Israel and Gulf Arab countries, none of those countries will take part in the exercise.
The US has repeatedly promised under Democrat and Republican administrations that Iran will not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
The consequence has been a dramatic decline in the US military footprint in central command.
But this exercise is intended to show the ability of the US to move large forces into the region in a short period.
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