Al Monitor reports: When the drums of war reach a fever pitch throughout the Middle East, cooperation with Israel’s most important ally assumes even more urgency than ever. The IDF is, of course, a powerful and independent army but in the event of an extensive confrontation, even Israel — a regional power — may run out of ammo. Meanwhile, six secret American bases are spread out throughout the country. According to foreign reports, these depots are chock-full of ammunition, smart bombs, missiles, an assortment of military vehicles and a military hospital with 500 beds. If Israel will be forced to take action against Iran, whether alone or together with the US, there is high probability that it will need a strategic home front — in the guise of those bases full of goodies.
According to the reports, the bases are situated in Herzliya Pituah (in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, on the coastline), Ben Gurion Airport, and air-force bases Ovda and Nevatim (Israeli Air Force bases in Southern Israel). These bases are crammed full of expensive equipment worth more than $1 billion. “These [supply] depots do not constitute the central consideration in deciding when to go to war, but they definitely figure in the overall calculations,” says David Ivri, former Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander at the beginning of the negotiations with the Americans regarding establishing the depots. Later on, Ivri served as Director-General of the Defense Ministry and as Israel’s Ambassador to the US from 2000 to 2002.
Negotiations between Israel and the US over the emergency reserve depots in Israel extended over a 10-year period. The Israelis asked for huge depots filled with heavy equipment and tanks, while the Americans agreed at first only to store medical equipment. Finally, the US began to build the depots in the early 1990s; according to foreign reports, some were built as underground bunkers. High-echelon Israeli (and American) sources are very familiar with the emergency installations and their great importance to Israel’s warfare deployment. Three weeks ago, the White House issued a special announcement mentioning the existence of these storage sites: “The Israeli forces have access to the American emergency depots.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, in internal discussions in the Defense Ministry, that the United States will allow Israel to use equipment from these depots during an emergency.
“The fact that we have these depots definitely improves the way we feel,” says Dani Yatom, former Knesset Member and former head of the Mossad, who served as the Head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate of the General Staff in the period when the US began to transfer emergency reserves to Israel. “I was in favor of the depots. My instincts told me it was a good idea. These depots give us the feeling that we have more equipment than we actually possess. Our military inventory is never sufficient, a prolonged war can lead to a shortage of shells, bombs and other [military] equipment but inventory is always slashed in the defense budget. When we have to decide between stocking up on inventory or transferring funds to [military] training or acquisition of MRPVs [Mini Remote-Piloted Vehicle] or tanks, inventory is usually the lowest priority. The American storage depots alleviate our planning of military operations because we can take into account the American equipment as well. Officially we are not allowed to use anything without American authorization, but there definitely might be someone out there who thinks that if we really will need this equipment, and the Americans won’t allow our access to the emergency depots, we’ll take it anyway.” [Continue reading…]