The Israel Defense Forces sent an officer to serve as its first representative in the US Central Command this week, further solidifying Israel’s move to its area of responsibility, the army said on Thursday.
A former fighter pilot, the officer, who can only be identified by his rank and his first Hebrew initial, Major “Aleph”, will be stationed at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
“As part of his role, he will be responsible for coordinating joint orders between the IDF and CENTCOM, in times of peace and war, strengthening operational cooperation and exchanging operational knowledge, among other things,” the IDF said.
After decades of working with the US Army’s European Command, Israel was transferred to CENTCOM earlier this year, in a move that aimed to enhance the IDF’s ability to work with the US and its partners. allies in the Middle East to counter Iran.
“Through cooperation in training, intelligence and operational planning, we will continue to address current challenges, chief among them the Iranian threat. I have no doubt that the joint work with CENTCOM and the Gulf countries will continue to lead Israel and its security to great achievements, ”says IDF Major General Tal Kalman, who heads the military leadership specifically tasked with countering Iran, known as the Strategy. and Direction of the Third Circle.
(In IDF parlance, threats of a geographically immediate nature, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Gaza, are referred to in the “first circle”, more distant enemies such as Iranian proxies in Iraq are referred to as “second circle,” And even more distant threats like Iran are said to be in the ‘third circle’).
CENTCOM officially assumed responsibility for the military’s relationship with Israel early last month.
Until recently, the State of Israel had remained in EUCOM’s area of responsibility to avoid possible tensions between CENTCOM and the Arab and Muslim nations under its purview, many of which had no formal ties with Israel and therefore they would not want to be seen as mutual allies. The US Central Command area of responsibility stretches from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the Persian Gulf region, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The previous arrangement allowed Israel to work closely with the European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the European Command, but initially limited the interaction between the Israeli army and the Arab armies in the Central Command.
Despite the move, Israel has continued to conduct training exercises with EUCOM units, including this month with the Blue Flag drill, in which EUCOM pilots participated.
In recent years, however, CENTCOM’s allies have increasingly developed relations with Israel, some informally, so these issues have largely faded.
Although partly a symbolic move, Israel’s inclusion in CENTCOM is expected to improve direct communications between the Israel Defense Forces and US troops in the region and, through the US, other armies in the region. region. The move does not herald changes to the base of US forces in the Middle East or Europe.
The decision to move Israel to CENTCOM was made by former US President Donald Trump shortly before the end of his term, following lobbying by various pro-Israel groups in Washington and growing ties between the IDF and CENTCOM. .