Experts are beginning to ring alarm bells as President Joe Biden’s foreign policy has left the U.S. military with a dangerously low level of weapons and munitions stockpiles.
Biden has used his military drawdowns policy to ship huge amounts of U.S. munitions and weapons systems to Ukraine for its war with the Russians, but the policy has left America vulnerable.
The drawdowns policy has allowed Biden to withdraw existing weapons, ammunition and other supplies from U.S. stocks and to ship them to other nations.
Already the Biden administration has sent more than $54 billion of financial aid to Ukraine to assist in its effort to fight off Russian invaders. But military supplies have also become a key export for Ukraine’s defense, as well.
As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, the Ukraine policy has caused dwindling U.S. stockpiles and the Biden-led Pentagon has not replaced the huge amount of material being shipped out.
“The U.S. has over the past six months supplied Ukraine with 16 U.S. rocket launchers, known as Himars, thousands of guns, drones, missiles and other equipment. Much of that, including ammunition, has come directly from U.S. inventory, depleting stockpiles intended for unexpected threats, defense officials say,” the Journal reported.
Among the key types of ammunition depleted from U.S. stockpiles is the 806,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition used in artillery howitzers that are used for long-range bombardment.
But officials are now warning that the level of 155 mm rounds in U.S. military storage has become “uncomfortably low,” the Journal added. A defense official further noted that if the U.S. needs to go into battle, the low levels of ammunition is concerning. “It is not at the level we would like to go into combat,” the official said.
To highlight how worried U.S. officials are over our howitzer ammo stockpiles, the most recent shipments of artillery shells sent to Ukraine have been 105 mm instead of 155 mm shells.
Army sources said that the military is ramping up for “an ammunitions industrial base deep dive” to try and get suppliers and manufacturers to step up production to replenish U.S. stockpiles as quickly as possible. And the Army has also gone hat-in-hand to Congress for an emergency $500 million a year bump for the purchase of munitions.
Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, scolded the Biden administration for allowing this situation to become a problem.
“This was knowable. It was foreseeable. It was forewarned, including from industry leaders to the Pentagon. And it was easily fixable,” Eaglen said, adding, “There are some problems you can buy your way out of. This is one of them.”
It takes up to 18 months for orders of ammunition to be fulfilled, meaning that orders to avoid the depletion are months late already. And it can take up to two years for manufacturers to complete orders for more complicated missiles. But the military is lagging far behind the order-to-delivery timetable.
The problem has been known for months. In July, Jim Taiclet, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Corp., warned that the Pentagon is not moving fast enough and “has yet to put the contracts in place or coordinate with industry to buy more supplies, a process that often takes two to three years,” the Journal noted.
Still, the Pentagon has begun to put some orders in to replenish U.S. stockpiles.
The Pentagon reported that about $1.2 billion in contracts have been processed in order to replenish stockpiles, especially for Stinger missiles ($624 million), Javelin missiles ($352 million) and HIMARS systems ($33 million).
“We’re also making use of indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts, or IDIQ. If you have IDIQs, and we have many of them, what you can do is just add task orders to them very quickly to get equipment on contract,” said Bill LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
U.S. capabilities are also dwindling in other ways. Currently, the U.S. Navy is at its smallest number of ships in decades, and the Biden administration even announced that the force reduction would continue, dwindling our Naval capacity even more.
In a warning on that issue, a report titled “The Fighting Culture of the United States Surface Fleet” which was prepared by two retired members of the Navy brass, Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle and Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, claimed that readiness skills in the fleet have degraded because of an obsessive focus on diversity, coupled with thin resources.
Also last year, the U.S. Navy was rated as “marginal” and approaching a “weak” rating in its ability to defend America’s vital national security interests, USNI News reported.
The question of U.S. military preparedness has taken on an urgent turn, not just over the depletion of U.S. stockpiles, but also in the face of Chinese belligerence. China’s military build-up has caused national security experts to warn that the U.S. is not prepared to face China in a head-to-head showdown.
It takes billions of dollars and long stretches of time to manufacture the high-tech missiles, weapons, transports and ships needed to secure our nation. Unfortunately, it appears that the Biden administration is neglecting these vital matters.
While it is nice that Biden sees the U.S. as the arsenal of democracy, his outpouring of military supplies to other countries is weakening our own military and putting America’s security at risk.