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U.S. Weapons Stockpile Disaster Limiting Our Ability To Deter China In Taiwan

U.S. Weapons Stockpile Disaster Limiting Our Ability To Deter China In Taiwan

It’s so bad now, even the New York Times is reporting about it….

In late January we reported that U.S. military weapons stockpiles were so low that various commentators were describing the shortages as “uncomfortably low,” “insufficient,” “precarious,” and “dangerous” due to the large quantities of these weapons we had given free of charge to Ukraine: U.S. Weapons Stockpiles “Uncomfortably Low” Due To Arms Shipments 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.

[T]he 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…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.

The key problem, of course, as we reported, is that the administration’s official position is that, in the words of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley, “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 obvious impact of such support on U.S. weapons’ stockpile levels.

And one of the side issues, although of critical seriousness, is that this arms largesse to Ukraine severely impacts our ability to come to Taiwan’s aid in case of an invasion by China, as we reported:

[T]he 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.

Now, even the Gray Lady has realized that there is a problem, and reports that the January $27 billion in weapons aid to Ukraine is now $33 billion and growing rapidly: From Rockets to Ball Bearings, Pentagon Struggles to Feed War Machine

[There is] a problem that has become worryingly apparent as the Pentagon dispatches its own stocks of weapons to help Ukraine hold off Russia and Washington warily watches for signs that China might provoke a new conflict by invading Taiwan: The United States lacks the capacity to produce the arms that the nation and its allies need at a time of heightened superpower tensions.

In the first 10 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting Washington to approve $33 billion in military aid so far, the United States sent Ukraine so many Stinger missiles from its own stocks that it would take 13 years’ worth of production at recent capacity levels to replace them. It has sent so many Javelin missiles that it would take five years at last year’s rates to replace them, according to Raytheon, the company that helps make the missile systems.

If a large-scale war broke out with China, within about one week the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles, a vital weapon in any engagement with China, according to a series of war-game exercises conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Nice of the New York Times to finally notice, and it does its best puff-piece job of blaming the post-cold war drawdown in the 1990s for the Biden Administration’s current problems. But the Times summarizes that “the United States underestimated the threats it now faces — or failed to prepare adequately,” as “Pentagon officials acknowledged.” The Times also recognizes the potential problem with Taiwan:

For Taiwan alone, there is a $19 billion backlog of orders for American-made weapons — large chunks of it for Stinger missiles with rocket engines built by Aerojet that are already in short supply.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks…said the goal is not necessarily to prepare to fight a war with China — it is to deter one from breaking out.
“Still, we must have the combat credibility to win if we must fight,” she said.

Thanks to the New York Times for confirming our earlier reporting, including about the impact our voluminous weapons shipments to Ukraine have caused for the defense of Taiwan.


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That 65 billion worth of stuff we left in Afghanistan might be of use now.

    OwenKellogg-Engineer in reply to txvet2. | March 25, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    Yep. Makes me wonder if it is all by design….

    alaskabob in reply to txvet2. | March 25, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    What Ukraine has been getting in the past is our old stuff…but Afghanistan was all the new good stuff. Add to that …now… draining all of our other good stuff because of Uke/CCP Joe. Yes, I know Joe is enjoying playing president and a rubber tree puppet.

    It’s all intentional. Biden is a traitor. Time to open your eyes:

    “The President has not only misled the American public about his past foreign business transactions, but he also failed to disclose that he played a critical role in arranging a business deal to sell American natural resources to the Chinese while planning to run for President.”

      Time to open MY eyes????? How stupid can you get? Those weapons didn’t show up in January, 2021.


        I wouldn’t argue with a fool, because I’d be a party to two fools arguing.

        What about Biden’s taking millions from the Chicomms don’t you get, and did you even read the story about Biden selling off our stategic oil reserves to his handlers?

        Again, I won’t bother arguing. The rest of the readers are important, are important, not you.

healthguyfsu | March 25, 2023 at 6:37 pm

We have plenty of weaponry that doesn’t involve ground munitions that we could easily bring to bear, but we don’t want to escalate a confrontation with China to that level. That is especially true with the current state of the military and the bumbling shitshow in the WH

The current regime’s level of Incompetence is criminal! We are a strong country, I pray we survive this.

The ordinary Citizen cheerleaders for giving unlimited support to Ukraine are deluded. They have not adjusted to the current reality of our relative military power today v the 1st gulf war. The end of the cold war era brought sharp reductions in both force levels and available equipment.

It doesn’t help that the incestuous revolving door between DoD and defense contractors at the executive level prioritizes high dollar super tech programs instead of basic equipment and munitions. Things like the Joint Strike Fighter, the F22 raptor and a doomed class of ‘modular’ destroyers. All big money projects with lots of money sloshing around with production spread among many States and CD to garner political backing for what was in reality pork.

When we crossed the berm into Iraq we had no armored light vehicles; Soldiers used sandbags to put between them and the incoming rounds. No body armor. Other Nations had developed mine resistant vehicles but these were rejected b/c the dollars wouldn’t flow to US companies.

The profiteer cheerleaders for this insanity among the establishment are hoping they can make their bet pay off; namely that our depleted munitions stocks will be replaced, at significant cost to the taxpayer, before we find ourselves embroiled in a direct confrontation elsewhere. They are making a bet on a lucrative, to them, sideshow in Ukraine using our ability to protect legitimate US National Security interest as their ante.

The Slavic Spring has been hard to endure. Meanwhile, the Syrian Spring is still in progress, funded in part through Obama’s direct transfers, a segue from his second Iraq war.

This is another silly attempt at fear-mongering by the anti-support crowd.

We’re not running out of munitions and our productio is ramping up to 65,000 155mm shells/month. And that’s the just US which is not the largest MFG of 155mm shells, that’s Korea!

As for the ‘money’ we’ve spent, we haven’t. That’s crap. We may have paid billions back in the 60’s, 70s and 80’s for those old M-1’s, M-113 APCs and Bradleys we took out of the boneyard and sent to Ukraine, but they’re a sunk cost not a new cost.

The real issue with a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan is the US Navy’s capabilities, not the US Army’s. And that’s only if Taiwan needs our help.

I don’t think they do. It’s EIGHTY MILES at its narrowest point. The distance between the nearest Chinese embarkation point and Taiwan is over 100 miles. It would take DAYS for the Chinese to load all the troops, giving Taiwan a huge warning. The troops would have to go by large, relatively slow transports and face a barrage of anti-ship missiles fired from fortified and well-hardened shore batteries and the Taiwanese Air Force.

The Chinese air assault, if they tried it, would be a fuck-around and find out situation. Taiwan has one of the most well protected and capable air defense systems in the world. They also have multiple airbases that are built inside mountains that impervious to anything short of a nuclear strike and use the most advanced F-16s in the world which are 4.5 generation aircraft that more capable than the Chinese aircraft which are mostly cheap knock-offs of older Russian designs.

Taiwan has a huge, well-trained army. It consists of 165K active duty personnel and 1.6 MILLION well-trained reservists. It is every bit as equal to the Chinese army and far better equipped and, unlike the Chinese, would not have a nearly insurmountable logistics tail!

This is whole ‘China will invade’ is just bullshit saber ratting and fear-mongering. China does not have capability of taking Taiwan and Xi just throws it out there like red meat to make the war-mongering clowns happy.

    CommoChief in reply to MosesZD. | March 25, 2023 at 9:13 pm

    Delusion but if it helps you sleep at night then be my guest. The javelins, the stinger missiles and the RAP rounds we sent are not cast off obsolete munitions. Nor are they basic 155 rounds from some never-ending depot.

    Keep in mind the Biden admin has sent so much cash outlay to support the operating expenses of the Ukrainian govt; salaries/pensions along with so much graft that they refused to provide an audit or send an IG to oversee the flow of funding and equipment.

    This week a Biden admin proposal surfaced to reduce VA benefits to disabled Veterans. These are combat wounded Veterans, fellow Americans who paid a heavy price for service.

    Somehow we don’t have enough money to pay these folks, me included full disclosure, the disability benefits they earned in combat but we have money for Ukraine? Nah cuz, those priorities are out of whack.

      GravityOpera in reply to CommoChief. | March 25, 2023 at 9:40 pm

      We have plenty of money, but Ukraine is not where it’s been disappearing to. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. are what is eating our budget and dragging us down culturally and economically (and those are just the big ticket items.) Place your blame where it belongs.

        CommoChief in reply to GravityOpera. | March 25, 2023 at 10:12 pm


        This proposal by the Biden admin is to save a measly $25 Billion a year by reducing or in some cases eliminating entirely the disability benefits for combat wounded Veterans. If there was ‘plenty of money’ there wouldn’t be a need to look for cost savings on the backs of Veterans.

        FYI there isn’t ‘plenty of money’ not even close. Our annual budget deficit is projected at $1.8+ Trillion. That’s for the next ten years with this proposal and the Biden tax increases; straight out of the Treasury Sec mouth this week in Congressional testimony.

        That will increase our National Debt from $33+ Trillion at the end of FY’23 to over $51 Trillion in FY ’33. But y’all want to send $ to Ukraine and find part of the cost from taking $25 Billion a year away from combat disabled Veterans?

        Good luck recruiting for the ‘all volunteer’ force. The current recruiting and retention shortfalls are bad enough without this. Some of y’all are going to be upset when your children and grand children end up getting drafted b/c of your willful blindness and complacency about sending others children and others tax dollars to support unnecessary wars.

        Those of us who’s families have traditionally done the fighting are tired of it. Make no mistake the force depends upon the willingness of families with a tradition of service to continue to send their Sons, Daughters, Nieces and Nephews into military service. That accounts for over 2/3 of typical year recruit intake and we are no longer doing so. Others stopped some time ago, some at debacle of Afghanistan withdrawal, this VA benefits reduction proposal is my breaking point. I will not recommend military service and will in fact discourage it from now on.

        Think the possibility of a draft for your children and grandchildren is hyperbole? Think again b/c it will be coming in some form. Less than 1/4 of military age US adults even qualify for service. That’s not a huge standard; HS grad, no psychological issue, not obese, no felony/serious misdemeanor, no drug use (pot is ok if admitted to). A recent poll showed less than 9% of that population would consider military service.

          GravityOpera in reply to CommoChief. | March 26, 2023 at 5:18 pm

          You said a lot that wasn’t relevant. What you missed is that there’s a huge difference between “there’s plenty of money” and “the budget is being allocated wisely.” It is NOT necessary for VA disability benefits to be cut. Biden is doing that because he wants to. If the real problems that I specified earlier were dealt with we would be paying down the national debt and would experience massive economic growth (and cultural improvements and reduced immigration of leeches.)

          For argument’s sake I have to point out that on the plus side finally knocking out Russia as a world power and supporter of our other enemies will reduce future military manpower requirements, chances of a draft, and VA disability costs.

          CommoChief in reply to CommoChief. | March 26, 2023 at 7:22 pm

          The truth is Congress likes spending other people’s money on dubious things as you seem to want to do in Ukraine, which I remind you is not our ally in any sense. The difference here is you are unsatisfied with simple cash or loan guarantees.

          You demand that we continue to significantly weakened our own ability to previous elsewhere or even operate beyond a few days of warfare with near peer competitor. Sending Ukraine years worth of precision munitions production has hurt our own Nation Security posture. I am unwilling to support materially weakening the US for a sideshow in Ukraine.

          You then claim Congress will/can/should vote to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in order to balance the budget. FYI not all those programs are ‘on budget’. Good luck with that bout v windmills though the task is larger and more lonely than you perceive since Sancho Panza has long since retired.

          henrybowman in reply to CommoChief. | March 27, 2023 at 2:14 am

          Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia’s position as the major threat to the US has never risen back past the level of “maybe possibly someday could sorta be a nuisance to us,” while China has been steadily growing as the major contender for hegemony. Hell, Mexico is more of a threat to the US than Russia had shown any inclination of being prior to Obama and Biden’s Ukranian provocations… and that’s the “unofficial government of Mexico” to boot.

          GravityOpera in reply to CommoChief. | March 27, 2023 at 5:32 pm

          Thank you for admitting it is a case of broken priorities not the lack of money.

          Ukraine has been moving towards the West and provided troops in Afghanistan, but if Ukraine is conquered by Russia then they will be turned back into a Soviet Socialist Republic and they WILL be an enemy. Russia would gain international reputation and affirmation that the West is weak (so will China), significant increases in natural resources, agriculture, science, and industry, and tens of millions in population making it that much more expensive WHEN Russia tries to take a bite of another country.

          Direct conventional war is not the only way for Russia to harm us. Notice that I referred to Russia as a “SUPPORTER OF OUR OTHER ENEMIES” earlier? Russia is and has been supporting other hostile and terrorist-supporting countries. Degrading that network of alliances is worthwhile. How about subversion? Russia, especially during the Cold War, supported all sorts of domestic terrorists and Democrat causes. Propaganda like Russia Times. Bribery of public officials like with Hunter (which is falsely used to slime Ukraine.) Cyberwarfare. Planting puppet governments like Yankovich in Ukraine. Espionage. International diplomacy — ownership of Ukraine would give Russia access to significant amount of food for bribing foreign governments, but destroying their military reputation will reduce their influence. Of course there is their nuclear arsenal and destroying Russia’s conventional military will force them to divert resources away from maintenance and modernization of that force.

          In short, instead of being distracted by Ukraine- and especially Zelensky-bashing if you take a long term view and pay attention to what Russian can do besides conventional military operations to ourselves and our allies and our interests then supporting the defeat of Russia is more than worth every penny. (This is not to say that Biden is doing a good job. He’s not leading and is instead slow-rolling aid. I assume it has a lot to do with the Russian money Hunter was receiving.)

    amwick in reply to MosesZD. | March 26, 2023 at 7:36 am

    I don’t think Mr. Nault is silly, just the opposite. He has 31 years of not being silly.

GravityOpera | March 25, 2023 at 8:05 pm

Watching our donated equipment operated by a former Soviet republic devastate communist weaponry is a massive deterrent to China.

Watching America turn her back on our interests in preventing Russia from recreating the USSR after so little time and expense would embolden China.

    GravityOpera in reply to GravityOpera. | March 26, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    Yet again multiple downvotes without a single explanation why.

      henrybowman in reply to GravityOpera. | March 27, 2023 at 2:15 am

      Read the room.

        GravityOpera in reply to henrybowman. | March 27, 2023 at 6:04 pm

        I see a lot of short-sighted thinking, misplaced blame (such as blaming the GWOT instead of inadequate inventory and production capability), falsehoods (forever war, unlimited spending, lack of budget), irrelevancies (Ukraine isn’t a member of NATO), the self-destructive idea that we should ignore “small” enemies instead of preventing them from getting larger and more dangerous, blinders (ignoring Russia’s alliances with hostile countries), etc.

        GravityOpera in reply to henrybowman. | March 27, 2023 at 6:06 pm

        Can’t edit, so:
        None of which addresses either of the claims I made

Gosh, it is like 1940 all over again.

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.

(Really, I didn’t realize the Navy had been engaged in Afghanistan or the Ukraine. They’ve been awfully shorted on recently.)

    Krasnaya in reply to georgfelis. | March 26, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Exactly. This article is lying. Ukraine is not the reason that US stockpiles are low. The reason that US stockpiles are low is the underinvestment in the US industrial base necessary to quickly replenish stockpiles. We have chosen to fight Endless Wars in the Middle East rather than be prepared to defend our own country and our own national interests.

      CommoChief in reply to Krasnaya. | March 26, 2023 at 12:32 pm

      The expenditure of precision munitions is the problem here. The FY ’22 DoD budget for missiles was about $15 Billion. The transfer to Ukraine of several years worth of production of those precision munitions has left a hole in our stocks.

      There is only so much capacity to produce components, like the motors needed for all smaller missiles, to come off the line. The cool add on guidance systems to transform dumb 500 lbs bombs into a precision weapon are likewise constrained. Most of the ordinance is compatible across the services; the 155 round is also used by the Navy. The motors for rockets and GPS add on as well.

      It’s true the GWOT used a bunch of munitions but not so much on stingers, some javelin but lots off hellfire and GPS guided dumb munitions. Those stocks were replenished by the time of the Afghanistan pull out. The hole we have today is a direct result of the transfers to Ukraine. That is the truth.

      For the future you will get your wish in expanding the military industrial complex. DoD has been granted authority to to issue no compete bids and to sign long term contracts to produce all sorts of munitions. The proposed DoD budget for missiles has doubled.

      Interesting that the scuffle over which Eastern European Nation will control the area east of the Dnieper has presented the opportunity to drastically increase the profitability of the military industrial complex long term. Simply by transferring years worth of precision munition production to a scuffle between two Nations neither of which is an ally of the US nor a NATO member and both of which are run by megalomaniacs for their own ego.

An investigation into how the military spends it’s money is unfortunately needed and needed now. If you spend over 800-1 trillion a year on military and have shortages than there is something wrong and it clearly goes a lot deeper than Ukraine.

    MarkSmith in reply to Danny. | March 25, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    Surprise, you won the internet today. ^^^^^^^ Where do you think all of that money has been going?

    CommoChief in reply to Danny. | March 25, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    True that is well past due but unlikely to occur, the DoD has failed every consecutive audit since Congress mandated them. The funds appropriated for Ukraine are in addition to the normal budget and are not coming out of existing appropriations. This more magic money from the never-ending magic place.

      Danny in reply to CommoChief. | March 26, 2023 at 9:36 am

      I am glad we see eye to eye on this.

      There are systemic issues with the military, and reverence for lots of stars and a fancy uniform by our side has made us blind to them.

      I personally knew people who got injured and instead of the honorable discharge they deserved and earned had a psychiatric discharge handed to them so knowing exactly how profligate the high command is really does make my blood boil as a result.

I can’t imagine that the Lake City munitions is running 24/7 is not keeping up with the 7.62 and 5.56 demand placed on it by Ukraine.

I don’t think Biden ever had any intention of defending Taiwan. This is just an excuse.

    GravityOpera in reply to geronl. | March 27, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    Biden never had any intention of helping Ukraine. That’s why he offered Zelensky a ride out. Political considerations forced him to provide aid anyway.

Bill Halcott | March 26, 2023 at 9:04 am

If the Chicoms wanted Taiwan they would have taken it already. But Chicoms want Taiwan in one piece. Chicoms figure that Taiwan will eventually join them. Especially as older Taiwanese die off. Unless younger Taiwanese get to the PRC and see for themselves, like our young Americans they think the Chicoms are like us. Ask a citizen of the PRC about that.

This article is lying. It is not US aid to Ukraine that has depleted US stockpiles. What has depleted US stockpiles is the fact that the US has been spending money for the past 23 years to fight endless wars in the Middle East, instead of gearing up to fight a near-peer competitor. This has caused the US industrial base for supplying munitions to atrophy and lose its “surge” capacity. I want to say it again: this article is lying. US aid to Ukraine has consisted almost entirely of obsolete US weapons stocks that the Army would not have used in a major war anyway. Ukraine is not the problem. The Endless Wars that we have invested in to fight for the past 20 years are the problem because fighting these kinds of wars do not give the industrial base any incentive to maintain and develop a surge capability. Again, this article is lying. No doubt the 85 billion dollars in equipment that General Milley donated to the Taliban in Afghanistan could also have helped maintain US weapons stocks too.

texansamurai | March 26, 2023 at 9:39 am

the taiwanese defenses are formidable, true–in a prolonged conflict however, the sheer numbers of the chinese forces are going to tell–would seem that any successful interdiction of a chinese invasion attempt would necessitate a direct attack not only on the invasion forces themselves but also on mainland china–and crossing THAT rubicon should give ANY military power a moment of pause

Weaponry can’t destroy the United States.

Only the United States can destroy the United States. As we’ve seen, that’s a done deal.

Why are these grown men ogling this 13-year-old boy in drag? —