Strategic Folly? US Depleting Military Supplies In Israel To Arm Ukraine

News Image By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Israel 365 News May 03, 2023
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Strategic US munition stores in Israel are being depleted in order to arm Ukraine in its war against Russia, Israeli media reported, and without a timeline of replenishment, one expert claims the move threatens US and Israeli security in a "fight of good against evil."

The shipments have been ongoing since 2022 when a shipment of about 300,000  artillery shells was approved by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid when they served as Prime Ministers of Israel. Ukrainian forces are reportedly firing 90,000 artillery shells per month, far outpacing the manufacturing capabilities of the US and Europe combined.

The approval was seen as a way for Israel to maintain good relations with the US as it supported Ukraine without antagonizing Russia against Israel. Russia has a substantial military presence in Syria, including advanced anti-air systems. Israel has provided large amounts of humanitarian aid to Ukraine but has a policy of only providing Ukraine with non-lethal aid.

The shipments from Israel are intended to replenish dwindling US supplies to Ukraine. Israel Hayom reported that some of the munitions have been shipped out of the Ashdod Port on Saturday in order to avoid drawing attention to the move.

"These are Israel's reserve stockpiles for times of war," a former cabinet minister told Israel Hayom. "The move has had a bigger implication in light of the threats on Israel in multiple theaters."

A US official told Israel Hayom that "it is still not clear when the reserves will be restocked."

Concern has been raised among the Israeli establishment due to increasing security concerns in the region with Israel being targeted by rocket attacks from both the north and the south. In addition, Iran has strengthened its military, internally and regionally, leading some Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia, to reestablish ties with the Islamist regime. 

Dr. Melissa Jane Kronfeld, a University lecturer on foreign policy and national security and founder of the High on the Har Temple Mount advocacy organization, was critical of the move.

"It is beyond comprehension that the US administration could be so fundamentally stupid, Dr. Kronfeld told Israel365News. "There is no doubt that what is going on in Eastern Europe is important, demands attention, and requires a calculated and careful strategy beyond what the ineptitude of the Biden administration can obviously muster."

Dr. Kronfeld justified her criticism, emphasizing that she was not speaking in hyperbole.

"What happens in the Middle East generally, and in Israel specifically, has much larger implications for the US and broader structural ramifications on the Western world than a territorial dispute between Russia's thug-run regime and its former starlit-governed satellite state," she said.

She went on to criticize Western media for misrepresenting the situation in Ukraine.

"Thanks to the myopic media, the Ukraine-Russia border spat has been molded into a fight against good and evil - which it is definitively not - and real-world threats in this region - like Islamist terrorism, Iranian nuclear weapons, and failing Arab states - have been undermined and ignored both in the context of necessary resources and strategic responses," Dr. Kronfeld adding, "The actual effect of American support for Ukraine has not even begun to be felt, despite complaints by US politicians about the increasing sums of aid being sent to Zelensky."

She emphasized that while depleting these military resources seems innocuous and unrelated to US defenses, the opposite is very much the case.

"Our enemies are not dumb," she said. "They are watching and counting and making note of these depleting resources and strained stockpiles. And they will, as any basic offensive strategy would, take this into account when they plan their strikes against the US and Israel at home and across the world."

The United States Department of Defense maintains war reserve stocks around the world, mainly in NATO countries and in some major non-NATO allies. These stocks are for the use of the US military in the case of conflicts breaking out in regions that challenge supply lines. 

One such stockpile is the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel or simply WRSA-I was established after the disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War when the US provided the IDF with much-needed military aid. It is one of the United States' biggest War Reserves. Israel used ammunition from the stockpile during the 2006 Lebanon war against the Hezbollah terrorist group, and during fighting against Gaza terrorists in 2014.

Initially, the WRSA-I stock had $100 million worth of reserves, however, prior to the 2014 Gaza War the WRSA-I had nearly $1 billion worth of reserves with plans to increase this to $1.8 billion. The stock includes ammunition, smart bombs, missiles, military vehicles, and a military hospital with 500 beds. These supplies are situated in six different locations throughout the country. When needed, Israel can request to access the WRSA-I stock, but the request would need to be approved by the US Congress. 

Originally published at Israel 365 - reposted with permission.

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