The U.S. government is sending so much military aid to Ukraine experts are warning it will already take several years to replenish America’s defense stockpiles needed to defend domestic interests and our own citizens.
The massive scale of American support of the Ukrainian government as it defends against the Russian invasion that has been going on for nearly a year is only growing and becoming more involved. Top U.S. military officials traveled to Europe this week to monitor Ukrainian soldiers’ training using NATO and U.S. equipment and supplies.
Center for Strategic and International Studies Senior Advisor Mark Cancian wrote in a recent strategic report: “As the United States transfers massive amounts of weapons, munitions, and supplies to Ukraine, questions arise about the health of U.S. inventories. Most inventories, though not all, will take many years to replace. For most items, there are workarounds, but there may be a crisis brewing over artillery ammunition.”
Cancian estimates it could take up to seven years to restock America’s inventory of artillery ammunition at current production levels. Even if the government orders a “surge” in production, replenishment would take up to five years.
He added that the artillery shortage is the most serious deficiency, as it “constitutes the backbone of ground-based firepower.” With the amount of artillery being shipped out, he says that “rebuilding inventories at the current production rate is probably not possible because of routine U.S. training needs.”
Even as the U.S. is draining its reserve stock of critical artillery ammunition, the Ukrainian army has no productive capacity of its own and may have to begin rationing shells to only higher-priority targets.
Cancian warned that the U.S. is likely to soon run out of Excalibur artillery shells to send to Ukraine. The shells are key to defense missions and are guided by sophisticated GPS systems.
Some of the U.S. weapons being sent to Ukraine in the most significant numbers are Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Cancian wrote that even if shipments ended now – which they are not – it would take around 12.5 years to restock American supplies of Javelins and 18 years to restock Stingers. At “surge” production rates, it would still take up to 6.5 years to resupply.
At last month’s Reagan Defense Forum, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said that the U.S. has “essentially used up 13 years’ worth of Stinger production and five years’ worth of Javelin production” through aid to Ukraine.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to argue that the Biden administration’s extensive aid program for Ukraine has already compromised America’s ability to bolster support for Taiwan in defense against Chinese aggression.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov recently told BBC reporters that his nation is now a “member of NATO, de facto not de jure.”