The armaments industry that provides the Department of Defense’s weapon supply is “not adequately prepared” for any major regional conflicts, including a war with China in the Taiwan Strait, according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The Washington, D.C.-based think tank found through a series of war games that the United States would quickly run out of munitions, particularly long-range, precision-guided munitions, if it ever faced a Taiwan Strait conflict. Outdated military contracting procedures and a sluggish bureaucracy are among the weaknesses that make it “extremely difficult for the United States to sustain a protracted conflict.”
The report took aim at the Foreign Military Sales program under President Joe Biden for failing to adapt to the current security environment and remaining “risk-averse, inefficient, and sluggish.” CSIS senior vice president Seth Jones, who wrote the report, is concerned that the problems with the industrial base are hurting the country’s ability to deter conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.
“How do you effectively deter if you don’t have sufficient stockpiles of the kinds of munitions you’re going to need for a China-Taiwan Strait kind of scenario?” Jones told the Wall Street Journal. “The bottom line is the defense industrial base, in my judgment, is not prepared for the security environment that now exists.”
The Biden administration’s military aid to Ukraine has exposed these major weaknesses, the study reports. The $27 billion worth of military supplies the United States has doled out to Ukraine has drained the U.S. munitions inventory to low levels, and defense manufacturers are not equipped to replenish them quickly, the Journal reports:
The number of Javelin shoulder-fired missiles sent to Ukraine since last August, for example, is equal to about seven years of production based on fiscal 2022 production rates, the study said.
The number of antiaircraft Stinger systems provided to Kyiv represent roughly the same number of systems exported abroad over the past 20 years, the study said. Meanwhile, the more than one million rounds of 155 mm ammunition sent to Ukraine by Washington has shrunk the U.S. military’s own supplies, which the study says are now considered low.
“The U.S. Department of Defense, in coordination with Congress, should develop a plan now that involves taking steps to streamline and improve production, acquisitions, replenishment, Foreign Military Sales, [International Traffic in Arms Regulations], and other policies and procedures,” the report’s summary says. “It is time to prepare for the era of competition that now exists.”
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