The Arsenal of Democracy’s Stockpile in Israel

A relatively unknown U.S. arms depot in Israel has become a stockpile of democracy in recent months, as the Biden administration has transferred its artillery shells to Ukraine. Although the transfer serves Ukrainian interests, it also offers an opportunity for America to replenish the depot with updated weapons and transform it into a valuable hub for the U.S., Israel and other regional allies.

If the war in Ukraine has reminded us of one thing, it’s that building supply chains to deliver weapons to war zones takes time. It is far more effective to pre-position weapons in peacetime. We learned this lesson the hard way during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when by the time America replenished Israeli materiel, it had only limited tactical benefit for Israel’s war effort.

To address this incapacity, in 1984 the U.S. established the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel, or WRSA-I, a forward-deployed arms depot that could serve as a readily accessible reserve for American forces in case of regional conflict. The station was also meant to function as an insurance policy for Israel, allowing it quick access to weapons and ensuring what’s known in U.S. law as its “qualitative military edge” over adversaries.

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Michael Makovsky is president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. He served as a special assistant in the Office of Secretary of Defense, 2002-06. Blaise Misztal is JINSA’s vice president for policy.