A House lawmaker is pressing the Pentagon to disclose how much ammunition is left in a regional strategic reserve earmarked for Israel, citing concerns the stockpile may be running low after the Biden administration used it to support the war effort in Ukraine.
The United States maintains several War Reserve Stocks for Allies, including one dedicated to Israel (WRSA-I), which are used to arm America’s partners in times of crisis. With Israel facing down Hamas, Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) is asking the Pentagon to provide information about the stockpile’s current inventory. U.S. arms supplies have been running "dangerously low," according to American military officials, and Congress is working to ensure both Israel and Ukraine have the munitions they need to defeat an axis of malign regimes that includes Russia and the Iran-backed Hamas terror group.
"As Congress is slated to consider legislation in support of Israel’s defense, it is important for Congress to be fully informed as to what munitions are available in WRSA-I and the extent to which the Biden administration has depleted this stockpile to support Ukraine’s war effort," Roy wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the Pentagon and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The Biden administration "transferred hundreds of thousands of 155 mm artillery shells" from Israel’s stockpile and provided it to Ukraine as that country faces down a prolonged attack from Moscow. Israel’s arms silo was used prior to the breakout of hostilities with Hamas, and was likely tapped as the United States works to keep critical arms deliveries to Ukraine on pace. With the United States supporting both countries’ war efforts, Congress needs to know if any weapon reserves are running low so they can replenish them, allowing Ukraine and Israel to fully confront their enemies.
"The United States stores mission-essential defense articles in WRSA-I that the administration can make rapidly available for Israel in emergencies," Roy notes in his letter. "Israel has tapped into this American stockpile on at least two occasions, and it serves as insurance to support Israel’s ability to defend itself during armed conflicts."
Congress already allocated around $400 million for Israel’s defense in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, but more may be needed as the Jewish state conducts a full-scale military campaign on Hamas positions.
"As Israel continues to defend itself from Hamas and other regional terrorist groups under the sponsorship of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is imperative to the United States’ national security interests that Israel has the tools it needs to win and deter their adversaries," Roy wrote.
President Joe Biden said last week that he is requesting billions from Congress so that America can offer robust support to both Israel and Ukraine, saying the money is vital to protect American interests abroad.
"History has taught us when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction," Biden said, referring to Hamas and Moscow. "They keep going. And the cost and the threat to America and the world keep rising."
Since Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel earlier this month, concerns have been mounting about whether the United States has enough military hardware on hand to support protracted conflicts in both the Jewish state and Ukraine. A detailed survey of America’s stores will enable Congress to quickly replenish them if needed.
U.S. and NATO weapons stockpiles are reported to be "dangerously low," American military leaders warned earlier this year, prior to Hamas's unprecedented terror attack.
"We’re getting way down compared to where we were," Gen. James Hecker, commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, said in July. "If you look at the U.S. itself—and let’s not just talk about the munitions we recently have given away to Ukraine—but we’re [at] roughly half the number of fighter squadrons that we were when we did Desert Storm" in the early 1990s.
Pentagon officials confirmed earlier this month, after hostilities with Hamas broke out, that it is coordinating with U.S. arms manufacturers to speed up current orders for Israel and ramp up production. This action is meant to ensure that both Israel and Ukraine can get the arms they need in an expedited fashion.
While the Pentagon is required to provide Congress with yearly updates on America’s various arms stockpiles, "it is unclear whether this reporting requirement has been consistently applied" to Israel’s particular reserve, according to Roy.
Meanwhile, the State Department announced Thursday that it is sending $150 million in arms and equipment to Ukraine, including air defense, artillery, anti-tank, and other military capabilities to support the country's showdown with Moscow.