The fighting in Ukraine has “exposed flaws in US strategic planning” and “revealed significant gaps” in the US and NATO military industrial base, the Washington Post reported on Friday. As Kiev’s forces consume more ammunition than the West can produce, the Pentagon seeks to cope by training them to fight more like Americans.
“Stocks of many key weapons and munitions are near exhaustion, and wait times for new production of missiles stretches for months and, in some cases, years,” the Post noted, as part of a narrative about how the US has funneled some $20 billion in military aid to Kiev just this year. Only $6 billion of that has been in new weapons contracts, while the rest came from the Pentagon stockpiles.
The US military-industrial complex can make about 14,000 rounds of ammunition for the 155-mm howitzers, the Post quoted US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, while Ukrainian forces go through about 6,000 a day during heavy fighting.
The US military-industrial complex is “in pretty poor shape right now,” Seth Jones of the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told the Post.
“We are really low… and we’re not even fighting,” Jones said, adding that in scenarios where the US is facing China or Russia in a conventional conflict, “we don’t make it past four or five days in a war game before we run out of precision missiles.”
Washington’s allies in Europe are in similar shape, the Wall Street Journalreported on Thursday. Michal Strnad, owner of a Czech ammunition conglomerate, said Ukraine chews through 40,000 rounds a month, while all of the European NATO members put together can produce 300,000 a year.
“European production capacity is grossly inadequate,” Strnad said, adding that it would take up to 15 years to restock at current production rates, if the conflict were to somehow end tomorrow.
Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its allies that shipments of increasingly modern and long-range weapons could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO, and accused the West of prolonging the conflict and causing civilian deaths in Ukraine.
While Western officials have demanded a ramp-up of production for months, recent EU legislation blocked many investments into weapons manufacturing by designating it “not sustainable,” according to the Journal. Germany is now in the process of funding a factory in Romania that could produce both NATO and Soviet-caliber ammunition for Ukraine.