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Thomas Gallatin / September 2, 2022

The Problematic U.S. Ammo Shortage

With a lot of supplies going to Ukraine, America may not be ready for the next war.

The U.S. is not at war, but our stockpile of military weaponry and ammunition has seriously dwindled over the last six months thanks to the war in Ukraine. With the U.S. sending billions of dollars in ammo and other military supplies to Ukraine in support of its efforts against the Russian invasion, defense officials have begun to ring the alarm bells over our own nation’s “uncomfortably low” strategic supplies. As one defense official noted, “It is not at the level we would like to go into combat.”

Indeed, just last week the U.S. sent Ukraine different sized howitzer ammunition, 105mm rather than 155mm, over concerns that the U.S. stockpile was getting too low to meet appropriate military readiness levels.

And the ammunition shrinkage is not due to lack of funding. The Biden administration wants $773 billion for its Pentagon budget. “This was knowable. It was foreseeable. It was forewarned, including from industry leaders to the Pentagon,” claims American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Mackenzie Eaglen. “And it was easily fixable. There are some problems you can buy your way out of. This is one of them.”

The problem is ramping up production from companies supplying the ammunition, as the demand suddenly surged thanks to the Ukraine war. The Wall Street Journal reports: “In the U.S., it takes 13 to 18 months from the time orders are placed for munitions to be manufactured, according to an industry official. Replenishing stockpiles of more sophisticated weaponry such as missiles and drones can take much longer.”

And thanks to Washington bureaucracy, the process for speeding up production can take years. As Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet recently described it, it’s like “shifting gears, and I can tell you the clutch isn’t engaged yet.”

What makes this more disconcerting is the fact that China is eyeing Taiwan, looking for the best time to strike, and as the war in Ukraine drags on, U.S. support will continue to drain the stockpiles at home. The U.S. may not be in a war now, but that’s no excuse for not being fully prepared for one at a moment’s notice.

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