How Israel received a US weapons stockpile

After reports surface of tension between the White House and Israel over Jerusalem’s use of US weaponry in Gaza, the Washington Institute’s David Schenker gives the inside story of the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel (WRSA-I), the emergency arms stockpile stored in Israel.

Writing in Politico, Schenker explains that Israel withdrew tank and illumination rounds from the WRSA during the Gaza conflict. This was the first time Israel used the WRSA since the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

He writes:

WRSA-I is a strategic boon to Israel. The process is streamlined: No 60-day congressional notification is required, and there’s no waiting on delivery. At the most basic level, WRSA was intended to prevent a repeat of the 1973 war, when the Nixon administration famously delayed a resupply airlift to Israel.

The WRSA process is so efficient, in fact, according to a story published earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, that the White House, to its chagrin, was unaware that last month’s WRSA transfer had even occurred.

He then gives the story of the man behind the cache — a 400-pound, tobacco-dipping mid-level Department of Defense bureaucrat named Keith Rowe.

In 2006, during the Israel-Hezbollah war, Keith pioneered an innovative bureaucratic technique within existing U.S. law to allow the Jewish state to utilize the U.S. stockpile. Along the way, he established the precedent for shipping U.S. weapons from Israel to Israel—without the need for a cumbersome, politically fraught signoff from the White House.

To those unfamiliar with the complex world of military procurement, this accomplishment might seem trivial. But in the highly officious Defense Department milieu—where creativity and initiative is not uniformly rewarded—Keith’s success in transforming WRSA was the bureaucratic equivalent of the elusive single-season Golf Grand Slam.

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