Wed, 8 February 2023
When the United States entered the Second World War, it needed to fight against both the Nazis in Europe and the Middle East and the Japanese in the Pacific. To manage that gargantuan task, American military planners divided the regions of the earth into different areas of responsibility, within which a single authority would unify and command forces from every military branch and service. That structure has lasted through today, so that the United States now has eleven combatant commands.
Due to longstanding tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it had been included in the US military’s European Command, even though much of the rest of the Middle East was organized as a part of its Central Command, known as CENTCOM. That Israel was included in European Command for all those decades had some benefits, like greater interaction with NATO. But in recent years its presence there limited America and Israel’s ability to work together; as the cold war drew down, and the war on terror ramped up, European Command was no longer at the cutting edge of military strategy, attention, or resources.
The Abraham Accords surfaced a new public friendliness between Israel and many of the Arab neighbors. In recognition of this fact, Israel was officially transferred to CENTCOM in January 2021, making possible enhanced coordination among the US military, the IDF, and regional Arab forces.
This week, Richard Goldberg, a veteran Middle East observer and foreign-policy analyst, joins Mosaic editor Jonathan silver to look at the consequences and import of Israel’s move to CENTCOM. They use the recent joint exercises undertaken by the US military and the Israel Defense Forces, known as Juniper Oak 23. Operating together on sea, land, and air, the joint exercises were widely thought to have been designed to convey a signal to Iran.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.