US CENTCOM delegation visits Israel, talks preparations for 'regional escalation'
A large delegation from the US military's Central Command (CENTCOM) met with senior Israeli army officials in Israel over three days this week, discussing ways to strengthen cooperation.
The two parties discussed "shared regional security challenges and joint preparations for scenarios of regional escalation," the Israeli army's spokesperson unit said in a statement.
The Israeli army described the meeting as "yet another step in deepening and strengthening the military cooperation" between itself and the US armed forces.
Israel and the US conducted a joint military exercise in northern Israel this past week "to assess the readiness of both countries to cope with security challenges," Haaretz reported.
The CENTCOM delegation was made up of 35 members according to the Israeli newspaper.
CENTCOM, whose area of responsibility includes the Middle East and parts of Central and South Asia, assumed command responsibility for Israel last September.
Israel previously fell under the US military's European command, or EUCOM.
The command's visit comes as Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said earlier this week that Israel is building a US-sponsored air defence alliance with Arab states which he claimed already thwarted attempted Iranian attacks.
Gantz did not say which Arab countries were part of the alliance.
He said he expected US President Joe Biden's July visit to Israel to further strengthen the regional air defence alliance.
The US military delegation which visited Israel this week included Brad Cooper, the commander of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet that is headquartered in Bahrain.
Israel said in March that it would "soon" appoint an attache to the fleet.
CENTCOM commander Erik Kurilla travelled to Israel last month and met with the Israeli army's chief of staff Aviv Kochavi.
Kurilla spoke with several Israeli military leaders, toured facilities, and observed an ongoing Israeli military exercise, CENTCOM said after the visit.
Though Israel-US military ties are strong, CENTCOM reprimanded Israel as well as Iran earlier this year for putting US personnel at risk as they conduct missile strikes on each other in Iraq and Syria.