“So if you were in charge of NATO. If you were, say, Joe Biden, what would be your next move in the Ukraine war? What would you do?” Tucker Carlson asked Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a recent conversation.
“Peace Immediately. Call Trump again,” the prime minister said with a laugh, “that’s the only way out.”
“Call Trump again?” Carlson asked.
Orban repeated: “Call Trump again.”
It will be quite some time before Trump is called again. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has cash and inventory to burn.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced another $250 million military aid package. “This package contains significant capabilities to assist Ukraine on the battlefield,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an Aug. 29 message. Press release. The package includes missiles for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), AIM-9M air defense missiles, 155 mm and 105 mm artillery ammunition for US-provided shells, javelins, equipment mine clearance, demolition teams, over 3 million small arms rounds. ammunition”, as well as the financing of services and training.
“Every day, Russia continues to wage a brutal war of conquest that has killed many of Ukraine’s civilians and displaced millions of its people,” Blinken continued. “Russia started this war and could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine and halting its brutal attacks. Until it does, the United States and our allies and partners will stand with Ukraine, during the as long as it takes”.
As has become abundantly clear, the establishment is united in its support for Ukraine.
Last week in Milwaukee, several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination reiterated their membership in the club. “A victory for Russia is a victory for China. We need to know that. Ukraine is the first line of defense for us,” said Nikki Haley claimed. “He [Vivek Ramaswamy] he wants to hand over Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel.” (Later, in a back-and-forth between Haley and Ramaswamy on aid to Israel, Haley would argue“It’s not that Israel needs America, America needs Israel,” a rather strange argument please of help.)
The argument is that if the US does not defend Ukraine, China will invade Taiwan. It’s an argument that Haley, Pence and many other establishment Republicans make in favor of continued aid to Ukraine. What he fails to consider, however, is that if China makes a move on Taiwan in the coming years, stocks already depleted by Ukrainian aid will make aid to Taiwan more difficult and costly if those responsible politicians decide to do it. The foreign policy establishment that lost in Iraq and Afghanistan is setting the stage for defeats in two more chosen wars, against Russia and China, both nuclear powers, putting human civilization at stake.
To fulfill his promise to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, the Biden administration made use of the Presidential Reduction Authority, which allows the president to draw from the Pentagon’s existing reserves up to a predetermined dollar amount by Congress in this latest round of aid. The annual cap on withdrawal authority used to be $100 million; but in May 2022, members of both parties in Congress voted to raise that annual cap to $11 billion. It’s no surprise, then, that the Biden administration has used recall authority on more than forty separate occasions to dispense up of military aid worth 23 billion dollars.
In total, US military aid to Ukraine to date is valued at over $41 billion. The US has it appropriate more than 100 billion dollars for the defense of Ukraine.
But William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, says there’s nothing to fear. Both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley LaPlante said, consider the impact each round of Ukrainian aid has on US military preparedness. “So by definition, if it’s taken out of the recall, an assessment has been made (that) we can do it and we can manage the risk.”
A year before the last aid package to Ukraine, reporting the Wall Street Journal warned that US aid to Ukraine was depleting pre-existing military reserves.
According to the WSJ report of August 29, 2022: “In recent weeks, the level of 155mm combat rounds in the US military stockpile has become ‘uncomfortably low,'” an official said of defense. The levels are not yet critical because the US is not involved in any major military conflict, the official added. “It is not at the level we would like to go into combat,” the defense official said.
The report detailed the depletion of US stocks of 155mm artillery shells used for howitzers and revealed that the reason the US is providing the Ukrainians with 155mm and 105mm projectiles is that the US simply does not have adequate storage of 155mm shells.
The WSJ added that inventory strains, such as those experienced with 155 mm shells, are not a quick fix: “In the United States, it takes 13 to 18 months from the time orders are placed to manufacture munitions, according to an industry official. . Replenishment of more sophisticated weaponry, such as missiles and drones, can take much longer.”
Since then, the United States has been able to increase its production of 155mm rounds to 24,000 per month from 14,000 per month before the Ukrainian war. So far, however, the US has given Ukraine 2 million 155mm artillery shells, and with Ukrainian aid continuing at its current rate, it does not appear that the current level of production of 155mm shells mm be adequate to maintain already depleted US stockpile levels, much less build them back up to prewar levels.
The war in Ukraine is straining our 155mm shell capability, evident not only in the continued replacement of 155mm with 105mm ammunition, but also in the Biden administration’s decision to green-light the Ukrainians with cluster munitions, which are banned in more than 100 countries. The White House stated that it intends to use cluster munitions as a “bridge” while ramping up production of artillery shells. “I think we’re going to be able to continue to provide ammunition to the Ukrainians for a long time,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters in July, but conceded, “I think they will probably continue to use [the cluster munitions] also for a while”.
How The American conservative previously reported, aid to Ukraine has strained the supply of other types of US weapons, and arms manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with the required replacement rate. The United States has provided Ukraine with thousands of shoulder-fired Javelins, which Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said in December 2022 was equivalent to “five years of Javelin production.”
Further increases in the production of javelins and other weapon systems are proving difficult. Supply chain issues have led to persistent shortages of both simple and complex components – the military is the same fighting to get your hands on the ball bearings. Labor shortages have also hurt production.
The Pentagon dedicated $2 billion to trying to rectify these problems last year, but even with additional funds, building a resilient additional capability could take several years even for some of the simpler systems that USA has provided Ukraine. This fact prompted General James Hecker, the commander of US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), to claim on a panel just a few weeks ago at the Air Chiefs of Staff’s Global Air and Space Conference in London that U.S. stockpiles are running “dangerously low,” in because of the administration’s insistence on supporting Ukraine. The problem, Hecker said, has no “short-term” solutions. “We don’t have much of what we had in the heart of the Cold War,” he said. “Now you add that we’re giving away a lot of ammunition to the Ukrainians, which I think is exactly what we need to do, but now we’re getting dangerously low and sometimes, in some cases, even too low that we’re doing it.” I don’t have enough.”
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This shortage will hamper the United States’ ability to deal with a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. An introduction to the subject produced of the Center for Renewing America (CRA) states that “Many of the weapons systems that the US is supplying to Ukraine are also needed by Taiwan to deter or defeat a Chinese invasion. There is currently a backlog of approximately $19 billion of ‘arms deliveries to Taiwan, partly caused by the US prioritizing the supply of arms to Ukraine. Many of the same weapons systems supplied to Ukraine (Harpoon missiles, HIMARS rockets, etc.) are also needed by Taiwan and other East Asian partners, creating real tradeoffs against the US’s ability to deter Chinese aggression.”
The defense industrial base is scrambling to produce weapons for Ukraine with additional money and help from Washington. Unsurprisingly, it will fail in sectors without these additional resources and focus, especially if China is to invade Taiwan. war games done The US-China Center for Strategic and International Studies on Taiwan surprisingly found that the US would likely run out of long-range anti-ship missiles within a week.
What matters more to the Chinese when considering a move on Taiwan: the messaging—the American determination to stand with Ukraine—or China’s material capacity compared to that of Taiwan and the United States? If aid to the Ukrainians continues to flow at the expense of US preparedness, the world may soon have an answer to this daunting question.