Ukraine military aid hampering US defense industry: Ex-US DoD official
The former Airforce official says that the depletion of US stockpiles affects US capabilities to ready itself in the face of potential contingencies.
A former Pentagon official told sources that the $17.6 billion worth of military equipment provided to Ukraine is pressuring the US defense industry's capacity to replenish stockpiles.
"I was talking to somebody that works at a company that produces some of those munitions that we're depleting because we're giving a lot of it to Ukraine right now, and I said, 'How long is it going to take you to get your line up and running,' they said it's gonna be about two years," the official, Wesley Hallman, said.
"When I interacted with that executive a couple of weeks ago, that guy was telling me it was gonna take two years, two years until they could get to the rate of production where they could start truly replenishing at the rates needed. That's a long time."
Hallman served for 27 years in the Air Force, last serving as the Chief Air Force Liaison to the House of Representatives responsible for advising the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force on engagement with Congress while working directly with members of the House of Representatives and their offices on Air Force and national security matters.
Hallman said that providing Ukraine with $17.6 billion worth of US military assistance is draining the US from its stockpiles, adding that this has affected the US' readiness for certain operational plans, which include a timeline for the US' capacity to transport units and supply.
"My understanding is that it has depleted not just ours, but those allies that have ponied up as well - the Brits [UK], the Poles [Poland], the Germans - so yeah, it is affecting that. [...] I'm not privy to what the readiness levels are right now because I'm no longer wearing an Air Force uniform, but it just has to,[...] You can't transfer that much and it not affect your stockpiles," Hallman said.
"What you're expending in peacetime is radically different than what you expend in a wartime scenario [...] If you don't have that material already available, then that is going to change your plan," he added.
The former Airforce official further pointed out that the conflict in Ukraine may have served to strengthen the US defense industrial base ahead of future challenges.
"When you're talking deterring the Chinese, I think they're doing a reassessment vis-a-vis Russia's experience in Ukraine, I think they know that they're not ready yet," Hallman said in reference to Taiwan.
"So, I think we have some breathing space, but we need to take advantage of it to be able to produce what we need and, frankly, make sure Taiwan has what it needs to make it a very, very unappetizing thing for China to consider digesting."
Over $17.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine has been supplied by the US since the start of the war in February with the most recent $725 million military aid package to Kiev announced on October 14, which includes more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and additional 155mm artillery rounds, among other equipment.
Congress recently passed a bill that ensures the US has sufficient munitions in its stockpiles and is ready for potential altercations with
US lawmakers recently introduced new legislation to ensure the US has sufficient munitions stocks and is always ready for combat overseas in light of the conflict in Ukraine and increased tensions around Taiwan. It is expected that the law will be included in the Senate's defense spending bill after the midterm elections in November.
Read more: US military dwindling in strength: WSJ
In August, the US announced a $2.98 billion aid package to fund the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allocates expenses to the US defense industry to increase the production of certain weapons. According to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, the supplies of military equipment in the $2.98 billion package will begin in the next several months and continue into the coming years.
On October 17, the Wall Street Journal published an article that explained that in a possible war with China, the US would likely lose because the Ukraine conflict exposed vulnerabilities in the US defense industry.
According to WSJ, reserves of M777 howitzers, 155-millimeter caliber shells, Javelin anti-tank missiles, and Stinger air defense systems have been depleted as the majority of them have been supplied to Ukraine in light of the war.
On October 21, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen announced that beginning next year, the EU is planning to provide Ukraine with 1.5 billion euros ($1.46 billion) in monthly economic aid.