West scurries to restock arms as they run out for Ukraine's sake
Western governments are rushing to ramp up production and replenishment of weaponry after excessive supply to Ukraine drove stocks to decrease immensely.
In an announcement by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a meeting is set to take place this week of senior national armaments directors from allied countries to lay out long-term plans for supplying Ukraine and rebuilding their own stock of arms.
"They will discuss how our defense industrial bases can best equip Ukraine's future forces with the capabilities that they need," Austin stated at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany at a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, which includes 50 countries in favor of flaring up the war in Ukraine.
The Pentagon's arms acquisition chief Bill LaPlante announced on Friday the date of the meeting to be on September 28 in Brussels, telling reporters that the objective is to determine "how we can continue to work together to ramp up production of key capabilities and resolve supply chain issues and increase interoperability and interchangeability of our systems."
More is never enough
At the start of the war, Ukraine's military utilized arms and ammunition that were exhausted after a few months, especially crucial artillery and missile systems, leaving Ukrainian forces to rely wholly on NATO-standard arms - many of which are ending up on the black markets.
Although NATO countries do not all have the same weapons, their arms are compatible, so ammunition manufactured in one country in the alliance can be used by another, but restocking these arms is crucial because the excessive pumping of weapons into Ukraine has diminished the large amounts of arms that the allies had kept for their own defense. A prime example would be Germany, as it is Ukraine's biggest financial and military supplier, providing Ukrainian forces with weapons its own army doesn't have, followed by the US.
The EU announced in July 500 million euros for purchases over the next two years to resupply arms provided to Kiev, with the priority focused on more anti-armor and anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as155mm artillery pieces and ammunition.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton said at the time, "This has created a de facto vulnerability that now needs to be addressed urgently."
The US, a primary arms supplier of Ukraine since the outset of the war, has already secured $15.2 billion worth of weaponry, including those compatible with NATO weaponry. Austin announced, on September 8, that US President Joe Biden had approved an extra $675 million weapons package, yet blamed Ukraine's recording through hand receipts for losing track of the shockingly excessive amount of arms supplies.
The US has only one factory, the General Dynamics plant, in Pennsylvania that manufactures 155mm artillery rounds for Ukraine, producing only 14,000 rounds a month but LaPlante assured that the Pentagon intends to "get that in increments ultimately up to 36,000 a month in about three years."
This, however, would take annual production to just over half of what Washington has given the Ukrainians in less than six months, leading the Pentagon to urge its allies to up their own production to help refill stockpiles.
New contracts between the US military and arms manufacturers both inside and outside the US entail $364 million for 250,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, $624 million for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, $324 million for Javelin anti-tank missiles, and millions more for other weapons systems, ammunition, and military supplies.
Dave Butler, the spokesman for the Pentagon's joint chiefs of staff, disclosed that the decision is guided by but not entirely determined by US manufacturing capacities, adding, "Ukraine's needs for a given weapon are the ultimate driving factor."
Read more: The West arms Ukraine