April 26, 2024

After Iran’s strikes on Israel, Juniper Oak exercises seen as a ‘harbinger’

Source: DefenseScoop

Journalist: Brandi Vincent

“We know Juniper Oak was a bilateral exercise — but what we saw over the course of the weekend also included European partners and Jordan. So in fact, it was more sophisticated than the exercise itself in terms of the complexity of forces in the fight, and the level of deconfliction, communication and interoperability required to be successful,” Jonathan Lord, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security program at the Center for a New American Security, told DefenseScoop in a recent interview.

“So in that sense, it’s really that Juniper Oak was certainly a harbinger, [but] this was certainly even more impressive,” Lord said. “This was a lethal attack — and uninterrupted, it would have been disastrous.”

Before joining CNAS, Lord served as a professional staff member for the House Armed Services Committee, for which he handled the U.S. Central Command/Middle East defense policy portfolio and provided further expertise on issues related to security assistance. He also served previously as a political military analyst in the Department of Defense and the Iraq country director in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

In early 2023, Lord wrote an analysis on Juniper Oak and its overarching significance — arguing that the exercises’ size, scope, and complexity “set it apart from any that came before.”

Bilateral cyber incident response, agile combat deployment, and aerial refueling marked just some of the focus areas prioritized in the series.

“Obviously, there’s a moment of crisis right now, which is probably limiting this. But the U.S. enjoys a long security relationship with Israel and other partners and is very frequently engaging in military exercises with those partners to build those capabilities. Juniper Oak was one example of probably the largest and most complex one, but it’s certainly demonstrated that the U.S. and Israel have the capability to do this in a sophisticated way. They practiced it, and then it actually effectively achieved it in a moment of great consequence [over the weekend on April 13 and 14], which we witnessed,” Lord told DefenseScoop.

The U.S. and Israel did not publicly name a specific adversary in the exercise series last year.

“I think that’s largely for political sensitivities in the region,” Lord noted.

Still, he said the activities were meant to inform the types of operations the military partners would need to master to manage local threats, and establish command and control capabilities to enable multiple services to work together in a combined, multi-domain manner.

“So, we saw operations in the Mediterranean Sea that were combining air and naval assets. We saw land operations that were combining air and ground assets. In fact — and this is where it gets a little hinky and you won’t probably get many people to speak in much detail — but in fact, we also, in that exercise, had components there in the cyber and space domains as well. So it gets really, really sophisticated,” Lord said.

“And you can do that with partners who themselves have worked to build sophisticated, complex professional militaries, either independently or with us. In the case of Israel and Jordan, it’s really both,” he added.

Read the full story and more from DefenseScoop.


  • Jonathan Lord

    Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Jonathan Lord is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security program at CNAS. Prior to joining CNAS, Lord served as a professional staff member for the House Arme...