What Is Happening to America’s Arsenal? Here’s What is Behind the Alarming Decline of U.S. Munitions


As fighting rages in the Middle East, Europe, and China, America’s diminishing inventory of high-end bombs becomes a worrisome dilemma. The United States, historically a military powerhouse, now faces the risk of a munitions deficit in an uncertain era. In this urgent situation, a national critical munitions stockpile is required.

During peak counteroffensive warfare, European armament manufacturers are overloaded and trying to supply Ukraine’s daily consumption of over 6,000 artillery rounds.

Ukraine’s ability to avoid defeat and defend itself against the Russian invasion is heavily reliant on an ongoing supply of these rounds. Ukrainian forces are stockpiling ammo, which may cause delays in subsequent counterattacks.

This ammunition shortage could force Ukrainian military units to make difficult decisions about allocating resources across various frontlines in the coming months, focusing on areas where maintaining control is most critical and potentially allowing minor territorial losses in less critical sectors.

DoD draws munitions from its war reserve stocks to supplement Ukraine’s large ammo requirements. To make matters worse, House Republicans are stalling a congressional aid package for Ukraine in an attempt to extract tighter immigration rules.

To help meet Ukrainian ammunition demand last year, the Pentagon raided an Israeli stockpile of American 155mm rounds, shipping hundreds of thousands to Ukraine. These rounds, which have been stashed in Israeli bunkers for decades, are intended to provide Israel with a qualitative military advantage, which is a cornerstone of American policy in the Middle East. Now, Israel requires them to target Hamas command cells in its Gaza campaign.

The United States is assisting two countries, both of which utilize massive amounts of 155-millimeter artillery and other munitions in wars that might last months. Having run out of ideas, the Pentagon organized a team last month to study American inventories to discover munitions for Israel.

Senator Deb Fischer, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated earlier this month that the United States must boost its weapons production capability.

Once a fight has started, ammunition usage might skyrocket. The combat in Ukraine should serve as a warning about the manufacture of weapons that the United States would require in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan. Before a battle with China, the United States must address major issues inside its weapons manufacturing operations.

To battle a highly advanced military force, American forces require a massive amount of crucial weapons. This ammunition is also required to provide partner troops in Asia, like Australia, with the long-range anti-ship munitions required to defeat or prevent the Chinese armada from embarking. The stockpile also assures that American industrial output remains stable during times of crisis and that the US retains its global military edge.

The US also equips Taiwan with enough munitions to deflect an initial Chinese hit. This plan, enshrined in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, entails ensuring Taiwan has adequate defense capabilities in the event of a Chinese assault. The United States arms Taiwan just to the extent necessary to maintain the diplomatic equilibrium between Washington and Beijing. However, there is growing fear in the Pentagon and the Indo-Pacific that Taiwan does not have enough advanced weapons to repel a PRC invasion. Again, the United States’ diminishing munitions reserve poses a risk.

In a conflict with China, American soldiers will certainly deplete munitions inventories in three weeks. Even if the US industrial base expands, refilling supplies will take more than six months. In the meantime, the United States will be short of bombs and bullets for its cutting-edge systems, such as fifth-generation fighter jets and High Mobility Rocket Launcher Systems, as well as anti-air missiles required to safeguard our nuclear aircraft carriers and facilities in the Pacific.

The warning lights are currently flashing red. The tremendous demand for ammunition in such battles exposes flaws in the American defense sector, which no longer produces munitions at the same rate it did decades ago. Defense budget cuts following the Cold War resulted in a rapid merging of the defense sector, which witnessed a drop from fifty-one major defense providers in the early 1990s to five by the end of that decade. This consolidation resulted in a reduction in capacity.

The United States needed a crucial weapons stockpile to arm our allies and partners, as well as our own troops, to discourage and, if necessary, fight a large theater war. This reserve will allow the Department of Defense to replenish critical munitions stocks that are critical for maintaining air supremacy, defending against air and missile threats, and hitting hard and deeply buried targets.

The PROCURE Act, presented in the previous Congress by a bipartisan group of senators, would go a long way toward establishing this stockpile. The bill would create a $500 million revolving fund in the Treasury Department for the Pentagon to purchase vital armaments. Using earnings from the US Foreign Military Sales program, this fund would allow the Defense Department to quickly replenish high-demand armaments delivered to partner countries in future conflicts. The measure is intended to promote democratic nations and preserve American interests abroad by allowing the Pentagon to order vital armaments continuously.

The Senate Armed Services Committee should work hard to pass the PROCURE Act.

Furthermore, we must expand the National Defense Stockpile, a largely unknown reserve of raw materials centered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with operations around the country. The National Defense Stockpile has 50 key minerals on hand in case of emergencies. Many of these minerals, including aluminum, titanium, and magnesium, are utilized in the manufacture of weapons.

The value of materials in the United States’ National Defense Stockpile has plummeted from $42 billion in 1952 to less than $1 billion today. The United States’ mineral reserves are much fewer than China’s, with the National Defense Stockpile holding only 300 metric tons of cobalt, compared to 7,000 metric tons in China. To support a hypothetical major theater war, Congress must increase the national defense stockpile.

Our munitions stockpiles and production capacity are not only insufficient; they represent a major flaw in our national security policy. To reinvigorate our defense industrial base and enlarge our reservoir of munition-production materials, we must act decisively and quickly. Our national interests and global stability are on the line.


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