After handing over hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, the Biden administration has Pentagon officials scrambling to find $30.6 billion in funding from Congress to replenish the weaponry stock in the face of Chinese aggression. The extension of weaponry and money to Ukraine from the US has left the military severely under-prepared in the event we go to war with China.
This sudden depletion now has many officials begging the White House to reevaluate just how they look at the stockpiles of short, medium, and long-range munitions that come from defense contractors. While unveiling the Pentagon’s proposed budget on March 13th, the group stressed just how horrifically we have depleted our resources and how vulnerable it has left us. A pilot program for certain long-range munitions would allow Pentagon officials to sign a long-term contract to get them produced instead of renegotiating a contract every year.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks simplified the briefing into a single sentence “We are buying to the limit and expanding limits.”
Given the Biden administration’s predilection to waiting before striking, this message seems to run in the opposite direction and should give the military some hope. If that doesn’t, then the Pentagon requesting an extra $5.8 billion in munitions funding above the administration’s request, and 12% more than Congress has already agreed to, according to Hicks, should perk them up. This inclusion of $5.6 billion for ammunition, $17.3 billion in tactical missiles, and $7.3 billion in strategic (nuclear) missiles marks a tremendous transition for the Pentagon.
According to Pentagon comptroller Michael McCord, the need to supply Ukraine didn’t change their top procurement priorities. However, it did encourage a new push to be well-stockpiled. In the request, the prioritized munitions are “not ones key to the Ukraine fight but to the Indo-Pacific,” according to McCord.
There’s also the multi-year procurement facility that was added to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to allow for various – and it shares similar language to the Pentagon’s latest request. The kind of long-term contracts they are trying to lock up are the ones that give the defense industry a more predictable timetable to work with and decreases the risks involved with having a greater production capacity.
Two areas this increase could be felt in are the Javelin missiles and 155mm artillery rounds. These rounds have been some of the most heavily requested in Ukraine and are favorites of our military. Between extreme portability and reliability, they can be a grunt’s best friend on the front lines. Easily and quickly set up, they can be used nearly anywhere. The Javelin’s GPS capabilities make them pinpoint accurate from miles away.
As the Pentagon ventures into new territory by requesting multi-year contracts for naval strike missiles, medium-range air-to-air missiles, long-range anti-ship missiles, and the stealthy air-launched cruise missile, aka JASSM-ER, they are getting serious about keeping the warfighter equipped.
With the lower recruitment numbers, these missiles may prove to be more important than many realize because the infantry has been incredibly hard hit by this lack of new enlistees. By approving the so-called “Large Lot Procurement pilot program,” they would receive directed financing as well as sub-contractors to “maximize manufacturing capacity, accelerate delivery schedules, and drive down unit costs.”
The conflict in Ukraine has already cost Americans dearly. With numerous veterans who believe in their cause going overseas to fight alongside Ukrainians, some will never return as a result of attacks by Russian troops. Add in the depletion of our munitions stockpile, rampant hyperinflation, and soaring gas prices that are being blamed on the conflict, and Biden has given the American public and the Pentagon little reason to deny the request. God knows the man already sold us all out anyway.