Best Friends Don't Have to Ask

(Politico) David Schenker - Israel has one of two American ammunition depots pre-positioned abroad - the other is in South Korea - that allies can access on any emergency basis and later replace. Last month, during the height of military operations in Gaza, Israel withdrew tank and illumination rounds for grenade launchers and other materiel as part of a foreign military sale. The last time Israel accessed this cache was in 2006, during its 34-day war with Lebanese Hizbullah. At the most basic level, the depot was intended to prevent a repeat of the 1973 war, when the Nixon administration famously delayed a resupply airlift to Israel. According to both Israeli and American defense officials, this latest withdrawal from the depot was a matter of sourcing rather than an emergency requirement. Apparently, much of the equipment had impending expiration dates - "almost obsolete," one former senior Israeli defense official told me - making it a convenient and very inexpensive purchase for Israel to be used for training rather than operational purposes. Of course, Israel did not need the ammunition to defeat Hamas. The Obama administration, furious to learn of the depot transaction, subsequently delayed the transfer of Hellfire missiles and said it would better scrutinize future arms sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. The writer, who served as Levant director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2014-08-18 00:00:00

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