A new study whose data was obtained from senior military and defense officials as well as congressional and defense industry leaders, warns that if the United States and China engage in hostilities, the U.S. weapons cache is woefully lacking.
Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote the report, which follows a CSIS wargame scenario that pointed out that in a conflict with China, U.S. arms including long-range, precision-guided munitions, could run empty in one week.
“The bottom line is the defense industrial base, in my judgment, is not prepared for the security environment that now exists,” Jones told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the defense industry is currently “better suited to a peacetime environment. … 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?”
“These shortfalls would make it extremely difficult for the United States to sustain a protracted conflict,” Jones’ report asserted. “They also highlight that the U.S. defense industrial base lacks adequate surge capacity for a major war.”
“The history of industrial mobilization suggests that it will take years for the defense industrial base to produce and deliver sufficient quantities of critical weapons systems and munitions and recapitalize stocks that have been used up,” the study added.
Adm. Daryl Caudle, the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, has expressed his frustration with the defense industry, snapping, “I am not forgiving of the fact they’re not delivering the ordnance we need. … All this stuff about Covid this, parts, supply chain — I just don’t really care. We’ve all got tough jobs.”
The U.S. support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which has drained the U.S. stockpile of weapons, caused the Pentagon to reassess its quantity of munitions in December, illustrating the underinvestment in munitions that had been going on for years; e.g. investing in new weapons systems instead of shells or ammunition, the Journal noted.
Bill LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, acknowledged, “You have to have almost a political environment like we have now, where people see the urgency for it. Because in times of peace and times of prosperity, it’s one of the first things that falls off the budget.”
As recently as late December, 71 Chinese warplanes were detected flying around Taiwan, performing military exercises, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.
According to the People’s Liberation Army, China was conducting a “strike drill” in response to “provocations” and “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.
“71 PLA aircraft and 7 PLAN vessels around Taiwan were detected in our surrounding region by 6 a.m.(UTC+8) today,” the Taiwan Defense Ministry tweeted. “R.O.C. Armed Forces have monitored the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond these activities.”