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U.S. Weapons Stockpiles “Uncomfortably Low” Due To Arms Shipments to Ukraine

U.S. Weapons Stockpiles “Uncomfortably Low” Due To Arms Shipments to Ukraine

U.S. stockpiles of weapons systems critical to national defense dwindle to levels described as “uncomfortably low,” “insufficient,” “precarious,” and “dangerous” due to the large quantities of these weapons given to Ukraine

To date, the U.S. military has provided a “staggering” amount of military hardware and munitions to Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion, amounting to more than $27 billion. This U.S. support has included over 1 million rounds of 155 mm howitzer ammunition. It has also included 8,500 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 32,000 anti-tank missiles of other types, 5,200 Excalibur precision 155 mm howitzer rounds, and 1,600 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, among many other weapons systems and munitions.

An in-depth study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) euphemistically described the U.S. military’s own remaining stockpiles of the 155 mm howitzer rounds, Javelin anti-tank missiles, and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles as a result of providing so many, so quickly to Ukraine as “limited.” Weapons system stockpiles now described as “limited” also include the M-777 155 mm howitzer used to launch the over 1 million 155 mm projectiles provided to Ukraine, and the Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, seen below, both of which have been provided free of charge to Ukraine, in large numbers:

The CSIS study explains that “limited” means that “there would be risks” in the form of degradations to military “unit training,” which might become “more difficult” due to insufficient munitions inventories. There would also be other, more strategic risks in the form of degraded “support” for “war plans,” which might include a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, a war with North Korea, or even another war of some kind in Europe. The study optimistically concludes that these low weapons inventories should “spark some debate in the national security establishment” about weapons levels and their impacts.

Others put it more bluntly; the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense concludes that “[t]he fact that only a few months of fighting in Ukraine consumed such a large percentage of U.S. Stingers and Javelins suggests that the DOD’s plans, and the stockpiles that result from them, are insufficient.” Even the Washington Post has conceded the seriousness of the situation, noting that “[s]tocks of many key weapons and munitions are near exhaustion,” and citing a second CSIS report that concludes that “the U.S. defense industrial base is in pretty poor shape right now [and] we don’t make it past four or five days in a war game before we run out of precision missiles.” The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) describes the state of U.S. weapons stockpiles as “precarious.”

The U.S. Naval Institute describes them as “dangerous” due to their low inventory levels. Even a U.S. Department of Defense official quoted by the Wall Street Journal admitted that munitions stockpiles are “uncomfortably low” in that they are “not at the level we would like to go into combat.” This official explained that the only reason the issue isn’t “critical” is because “the U.S. isn’t engaged in any major military conflict” at the moment.

Army General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who unnamed defense officials claim “monitor[s] levels of US stockpiles closely,” has nevertheless stated that “we will continue to support [Ukraine] all the way” and “[w]e will be there for as long as it takes to keep Ukraine free,” despite the impact of such support on U.S. weapons’ stockpile levels.

Making matters worse, the defense industrial base, as noted, is in “pretty poor shape” and cannot quickly ramp up to meet the ravenous Ukrainian demand, which is so high that it can consume the entire U.S. monthly production of 155 mm howitzer shells in “two days [of] heavy fighting.” In fact, the aforementioned 155 mm howitzer artillery shells, over 1 million of which have been provided to Ukraine, “won’t be restored to 2021 levels until 2027 or 2028.”

The “poor” state of the defense industrial base can be attributed to supply chain problems also seen in other industries, but also to several defense-specific issues, such as “the unique peculiarities of [military] contracting systems, requiring long lead times and prepayment; the tendency of defense budgeters during peacetime to save money by cutting back on more prosaic items such as precision munitions in favor of ships, planes and other big-ticket items that please lawmakers; and the immediate and unanticipated demands of the Ukraine war.”

In any event, the risk from the U.S. military’s dwindling munitions supplies is something that needs to be thoughtfully considered before another arms package for Ukraine is considered. The risk seems especially noteworthy as regards a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. An NDIA article points out that “[t]he Biden administration has signaled support for turning Taiwan into a ‘porcupine‘ that would be costly to invade, thus deterring the People’s Republic of China from attacking,” meaning that Taiwan would use an “asymmetric warfare” strategy that “plac[es] an emphasis on the use of systems such as Stingers and Javelins as opposed to tanks and helicopters.” But Stingers and Javelins are two of the systems provided to Ukraine in large numbers, as explained above, and which are now in short supply, which has resulted in CSIS describing their current U.S. stockpile inventory as “limited.”

In short, President Biden’s Taiwanese “porcupine” might be short quite a few quills. The effect of exhausted munitions stockpiles on national defense writ large may be equally dire.

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Comments

Um. No. The US has *massive* stockpiles of ammunition and supplies spread across the world. In general, we could supply Ukraine for years at this level without making a good dent in them. Where the pinch comes is in *modern* weapons of specific types. For example (as above), the supplies of USN ADCAP torpedoes is untouched by the war, but the total number of Javelin missiles and launchers has taken a solid hit and will be backlogged on orders for several years to refresh stockpiles.

What we’re not seeing here is the current pipeline improvements. Every weapon system like Jav goes through Mods. The A model is produced for a certain number of missiles, then the B model is produced, then C, then D… We’ve about cut off any live-fire training in the Army of Javs so those old ‘A’ missiles can be shipped out, along with the B and C lots while the current production of E models is shifting to a higher (but not panic) gear. Same for the launcher. The A model Command Launch Unit (being shipped) is far less advanced than the E model coming off the production lines and directly into US inventory. And one must also consider that we produce missiles to shoot targets. With the reduction in targets caused by the Ukraine resistance, the actual need for US Jav production is not quite as important. Still, BOMAC needs fed.


     
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    CommoChief in reply to georgfelis. | January 25, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Sure we have lots of basic ordinance in depots. What we don’t have is large numbers of specialized precision artillery rounds; they were sent to Ukraine. Anti tank missiles likewise. Ditto for man portable anti aircraft missiles.

    I saw an estimate that approximately seven years worth of production for both anti tank and anti aircraft man portable systems has been sent to Ukraine already. Basic munitions we have mountains of, man portable missiles not so much.


       
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      FrankJNatoli in reply to CommoChief. | January 25, 2023 at 6:22 pm

      Actually, we have significantly drained our conventional 155 rounds, and had to buy them from South Korea, on the condition that we don’t ship them to Ukraine.
      A very complicated world.


         
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        CommoChief in reply to FrankJNatoli. | January 25, 2023 at 7:34 pm

        Point taken yet the larger point is that precision munitions and man portable anti tank and anti aircraft missile stocks are low with little ability to replenish anytime soon. Replacement of basic 155 artillery shells is much easier b/c we have far more production centers available at home and among our allies.


           
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          FrankJNatoli in reply to CommoChief. | January 26, 2023 at 7:41 am

          See always excellent Strategy Page on this issue:
          https://strategypage.com/htmw/htproc/articles/20230120.aspx
          “Current [U.S.] production is 3,250 155mm shells a month. That is being increased to 20,000 a month in 2023 and 40,000 in 2024. The 155mm shell reserves won’t be restored to 2021 levels until 2027 or 2028.”


           
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          CommoChief in reply to CommoChief. | January 26, 2023 at 9:38 am

          Frank,

          The article you cite works to buttress my point that production of basic munitions is much easier to ramp up v more complex missile systems or precision munitions. The article cites a better than 5x increase in production.

          The other issue is when considering the China threat the US isn’t going to be using artillery as the primary means to defeat China. It will be a war of missiles; anti ship, anti aircraft, air to ground and anti tank.

          If we are depending upon the Army artillery to defeat China then the Navy and Air Force would have already been swatted aside by the Chinese and we would be defending the Pacific Coast. S. Korea is a separate issue, if the N Korean come, backed by China they are toast.

          The shipment of anti tank and anti aircraft missiles, man portable versions we are pumping into Ukraine, are far more concerning and way more of an issue than conventional artillery rounds. Every one we sent to Ukraine is one we can’t send to Taiwan or S Korea or Australia in a potential confrontation with China.


           
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          FrankJNatoli in reply to CommoChief. | January 26, 2023 at 11:52 am

          Chief,
          Website provides no “reply” button to your longer reply below, so I reply here.
          “Every one we sent to Ukraine is one we can’t send to Taiwan or S Korea or Australia in a potential confrontation with China.”
          Since present stock of ordnance is always a zero sum game, I cannot argue with your statement.
          However, I infer that you regard Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine as being not worth fighting, in lieu of the possibility [but not present reality] of fighting in Taiwan or S Korea or Australia.
          And that I do not accept.
          Putin has publicly declared that he is interested, not in restoring the Soviet Union, state by state, but in restoring the “Rus” of the Tsars, which included most of present day Poland and the Baltics.
          Ukraine is merely Phase I, and it must be stopped, in the present.


         
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        MattMusson in reply to FrankJNatoli. | January 26, 2023 at 8:18 am

        Watch us get into a bidding war with Russia for ammunition left in Afghanistan by Joe Biden.


     
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    Mt. Fuji in reply to georgfelis. | January 25, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    Um, no not really. When you have the CNO Admiral Michael Gilday warning that within 6 months they will have to decide to either defend the USA or support Ukraine, not both.
    You also need to take in the current status of the armed forces and how decimated they are due to 20+ years of war and a high ops tempo, wokeism, DEI, and the vaccine mandate. Then look at the average age of all of the hardware, from airplanes to ships to tanks. Good luck keeping fighting a proxy war with Russia. Then you need to look at the FED too, once they cannot print more money, the game is over.


     
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    artichoke in reply to georgfelis. | January 25, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    What does “reduction in targets due to Ukraine resistance” mean? The only sense I can make of it is that since some Russians have died, there are fewer Russians for our weapons to kill.

    And killing Russians is not why we produce weapons. If you think it is, you’re sick.


 
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FrankJNatoli | January 25, 2023 at 5:41 pm

You can argue whether giving the ordnance to Ukraine was morally or strategically correct.
You cannot argue that eleven months of single front war in Ukraine should have the ability to drain the U.S. ordnance stockpile.
The U.S. ordnance stockpile is drained because “provide for the common defense” is low priority, compared to the welfare state, and we no longer have the manufacturing to maintain ordnance needs, even in a minimal localized conflict, never mind a world war.
Thank you, Democrat voters.


 
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MosesZD | January 25, 2023 at 5:42 pm

Over-stated fear-mongering.. That’s more political instead of reality based.

The US Army & Marine Corps had over 1,000 M-777’s in 2018. We sent 90 of them to Ukraine. We have millions more 155mm shells in inventory.

And fear-mongering about a war in Korea? There are a dozen MFG of 155mm shells in the world including Korea which, btw, has millions and millions of 155mm shells stockpiled as part of their defense against a potential North Korean/Chinese-backed invasion.

In fact the Koreans, who are working hard to break into defense contracting, can produce large quantities of 155mm shells. This is why the US recently put in an order for 100,000 155mm Shells from South Korean mfg. And the Canadians are also, from what I’ve read, are buying 155mm shells as well.

Another issue is we’re generally sending them the old stuff. They get the older javelins. They get the older vehicles. They get the older rockets. Because even though they’re old by our standards, they’re still better than anything the Russians have.


     
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    Free State Paul in reply to MosesZD. | January 25, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    We have “millions” of 155mm shells in inventory? Big deal. Russia is manufacturing 3.4 million per year.

    We just bought 100,000 shells from South Korea? Big deal. Russian Federation is firing 20,000 per DAY in the Ukraine.


       
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      MattMusson in reply to Free State Paul. | January 26, 2023 at 8:20 am

      Artillery duels and trench warfare translates to meat grinder. Which country can afford to lose the most men before being forced to the Peace table?

      Or, we could just start WW3 over who gets to be in charge of Crimea.


       
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      The_Mew_Cat in reply to Free State Paul. | January 26, 2023 at 10:31 am

      20,000 shells per day is already twice Russia’s annual production by your own figures. It is ultimately a question of which side runs out of men and ammunition first.

Weapons stockpiles “uncomfortably low”

You go to war with the uncomfortable weapon stockpiles you have, not the comfortable stockpiles you wish you had.


 
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BierceAmbrose | January 25, 2023 at 6:18 pm

Some say Ukraine used truck-mounted harpoons on the Russian Navy. If so, that’s a battlefield trial for one of Taiwan’s porcupine systems. Seemed to work.

Biden’s Slavic Spring in Obama’s World War Spring series.

I have it on good authority there is a hastily abandoned $80 billion U.S. weapons depot in Afghanistan. Contact the Taliban for inventory & prices.

FJB

Critically low on aircraft carriers, F-22’s, B-2 bombers….. oh wait


 
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Subotai Bahadur | January 25, 2023 at 8:18 pm

“Uncomfortably low”? That depends on whose level of comfort. To those who actually worry about protecting the country and following the Oath, yeah major discomfort and worry. To the Leftists ruling us, it is a good start.

Subotai Bahadur

US is already moving to boost artillery shell production by 500%


 
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GravityOpera | January 25, 2023 at 11:20 pm

No. Our supplies are uncomfortably low now because they were uncomfortably low BEFORE Russia shifted their invasion to high gear. Supplying Ukraine is a stress test/learning tool AND reduces future need of supplies.


 
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henrybowman | January 25, 2023 at 11:21 pm

So, to recap:
Joe killed our energy industry and sold our emergency fuel reserves to China.
Joe sent loads of our money and arms we needed to Ukraine.
Joe fired all the experienced, principled soldiers who objected to the vax and DEI, and replaced them with rainbow-haired social justice “warriors.”
Finally, I understand why they’re dumping Joe at this juncture and installing Kamala.
The master plan calls for the president to be someone who can convincingly open their legs for our new overlords.


 
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windyfir | January 25, 2023 at 11:32 pm

Oh! Wait! who could have foreseen this? Do the news people really believe their own reporting?

All part of the plan.

Traitors filling all positions of government. Fuel stockpiles depleted. Military unable to draw in enough volunteers to fill all positions. Increasing percentage of citizenry ill-equipped to become defends of the USA due to excess blubber and then toss in a lack of patriotism and willingness to sacrifice personally for the good of . . . well . . . a DIVERSE and MULTICULTURAL morass where if I were a youth today I doubt if I would risk myself to protect a country swirling down the drain into an elite-class owned and controlled corporate monstrosity with a New World Order crowding out the past so that a one-world government owned and controlled by that dreadful hereditary-based elite class can convert the masses to peons and serfs with those defying the overlords forced into abject servitude or, perhaps, even death. Dare to defy the masters and expect the worst.


 
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Fat_Freddys_Cat | January 26, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Yeah, I know. If we don’t do what the Neocons want, we’ll have Russian tanks rolling through Kiev, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, London, Washington D.C.*, etc.

*As far as I’m concerned Putin can have D.C., on one condition: he’s not allowed to give it back. No refunds no returns.


     
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    henrybowman in reply to Fat_Freddys_Cat. | January 26, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    “But what is it exactly turns you off?”
    –STEELY DAN, COUSIN DUPREE


     
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    JohnSmith100 in reply to Fat_Freddys_Cat. | January 27, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    Maybe better to nuke Ukraine with Cobalt laced bombs. Then no one gets it. That would fix the graft problem. And get a bunch of Russian where they do not belong.

    Now I am not serious, but it is always good to think outside the box. So maybe nuking Iran would seen the right message?

    I object to what is already $270B principal + interest for 30 years = $2300 for every man woman and child, and Ukraine is downright arrogant, + they are personally pocketing our money and I am pretty sure their most adamant supporters in congress are getting kickbacks.

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