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US Armed Forces Running on Depleted Weapons Stockpiles After Mass Donations to Ukraine

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: October 3, 2022
The US has depleted its weapon stockpiles, especially of the Howitzer 155mm artillery, in its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine
The Taiwanese military fire the 155 mm Howitzer during a live fire anti landing drill in Pingtung County, Southern Taiwan on Aug. 9, 2022. The United States is dangerously low on critical weapons components, such as the 155mm Howitzer and its requisite shells, after donating much of its cache to Ukraine in the proxy war against the Russian Federation. (Image: SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

America’s arsenal has been reduced to “dangerously low levels” due to Washington’s generous aid to Ukraine, analysts warn.

Breitbart reported on Sept. 30 that a same day note to clients by Bank of America analysts cautioned investors on the reality of the present geopolitical risk, “Presidential drawdowns have pushed US weapons stockpiles to dangerously low levels that have not been seen for decades.” 

It continued, “On several ground systems, DoD officials have indicated that ammunition stocks have dwindled to levels that would be considered problematic during wartime.”

Additionally, the note counted 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 8,500 Javelin anti-tank weapons, 700 unmanned drones, 146 155mm Howitzer artillery weapons and 987,000 rounds, and more than 50 counter-artillery radar systems as having been gifted to Ukraine under Presidential Drawdown orders.

The weaponry was produced by U.S. defense contractor juggernauts Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and others.

The note added that orders for more weapons, and their associated drawdown on federal coffers, continued to roll in, “Roughly $1.2bn in contracts are already being processed in order to replenish stockpiles, especially for Stinger missiles ($624mn), Javelin missiles ($352mn), and HIMARS systems ($33mn).”

An Aug. 19 Fact Sheet posted on the Department of State’s website characterizes Presidential Drawdown as a “valuable tool of U.S. foreign policy in crisis situations.”

“Such assistance can begin arriving within days—or even hours—of approval,” it adds.

The missive stated that the Biden Administration sought to bolster Ukraine to “defend itself” from what it categorized as “Russia’s unprovoked and brutal aggression,” which the State Department claims “amounts to internationally condemned war crimes.”

The Department also posited that disbursing huge amounts of the world’s most powerful military’s weapons cache to an Eastern European nation that does not belong to NATO in the middle of the chaos of a serious conflict was safe and sound because, “The Department vets Ukraine’s security force units nominated for assistance under the drawdown.” 

“In compliance with the Leahy law and in coordination with the Government of Ukraine, the Department works to ensure assistance does not go to units credibly implicated in gross violations of human rights,” the Fact Sheet continued.

It added, “As with all transfers of defense articles and services to partners under the FAA, Ukraine is bound by an agreement with the United States not to transfer such items to third parties or unauthorized users.”

So just how significant is the drawdown? Consider that a Sept. 28 article by CNBC noted that the entire U.S. defense contractor industry’s annual production capacity for 155mm Howitzer rounds is only 30,000 shells.

“The Ukrainian soldiers fighting invading Russian forces go through that amount in roughly two weeks,” the article stated, based on comments by Dave Des Roches, an Associate Professor and military fellow at the U.S. National Defense University.

EU Diplomat Josep Borrell also pointed out in comments to Parliament that Europe is, likewise, on thin ice with its military stockpile, “The military stocks of most [European NATO] member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians.”

The admissions point out a fact often omitted in Western media’s glorification of Ukraine’s tactical victories and Russia’s inability to crush a smaller country after more than 7 months of war: in reality, Russia is facing off against NATO itself.

CNBC added, “NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg held a special meeting of the alliance’s arms directors on Tuesday to discuss ways to refill member nations’ weapons stockpiles.”

And yet, the depletion of national armories is hardly news. In late August, Business Insider ran an article lamenting that inventory of Howitzers and their 155mm shells was already running low.

At the time, an unnamed “senior defense official” told reporters that the “short answer” as to whether a vacuous armory was a product of delivering everything they could to Ukraine “is no.”

An Aug. 29 report by The Wall Street Journal elucidated the significance of Howitzers and their live rounds for the uninitiated, describing them as weapons that “fire high-explosive 155mm ammunition weighing about 100 pounds each and able to accurately hit targets dozens of miles away.”

At the time, a defense official told the outlet that U.S. reserves of the weapons were already “uncomfortably low” and “is not at the level we would like to go into combat.”

CNBC stated in its recent article, “The U.S. has essentially run out of the 155 mm howitzers to give to Ukraine; to send any more, it would have to dip into its own stocks reserved for U.S. military units that use them for training and readiness.”

Should Communist China move forward with an invasion of Taiwan, the United States and NATO will be faced with a dilemma as to how to provide aid on two separate fronts.