America Has A 155mm Artillery Munitions Problem

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Nov 03, 2023 - 01:50 AM

Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The United States may have some leeway in developing its defense-industrial base, however, as the military capabilities required by Israel and Ukraine don't currently share significant overlap.

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre Caesar gun toward Russian positions at a front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 15, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Worries over increased strain to an already thinly spread munitions supply chain began when it was revealed that the Biden administration had ordered munitions back to Israel that it had initially removed in support of Ukraine.

The United States previously stored 300,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition in Israel but moved half of that to Europe in January to support Ukraine’s defense against a Russian invasion. It has since returned the rounds to Israel, however, following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war on the terrorist organization.

As for 155 ammunition, what had happened prior to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, is some had been withdrawn from the war reserve stockpile in Israel to replenish U.S. stocks in Europe,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Oct. 23.

Much of that has been redirected and provided to the Israel Defense Forces for their use.

Artillery shells ready for shipping are stored at the Scranton Army ammunition plant in Scranton, Pa., on April 12, 2023. (Hannah Beier/Getty Images)

Israel, Ukraine Require Different Capabilities

The back-and-forth has caused some confusion about U.S. strategic priorities, with various experts and pundits offering conflicting views as to whether Israel or Ukraine would be more negatively affected by the move.

Retired U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer said that the move demonstrated that the Biden administration was unable to provide support to Israel because of its Ukraine aid.

“The United States raided its stock of weapons to support Ukraine earlier this year,” Mr. Schaffer said during an Oct. 18 interview with Epoch Times sister media outlet NTD.

“Much of the military stock that the United States would have provided to the Israelis regarding the offensive just isn’t there.”

Conversely, some media outlets have insisted that the transfer of 155 mm rounds from Ukraine to Israel will instead harm Ukraine and help Russia in its attempted conquest of the nation.

Ukrainian officials, however, say that both arguments are wrong.

The current wartime situations in Israel and Ukraine are different, and the two powers require quite different military capabilities, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, said.

(Left) People gather for a rally in support of Ukraine in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Feb. 25, 2022. (Right) Israelis wave their national flag during a march near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 13, 2018. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images; Daro Sulakauri/Getty Images)

“We don’t see anything that would raise concerns about it. The biggest concern is how to find additional weapons and everything else,” Ms. Markarova told reporters during an Oct. 27 meeting of the Military Reporters and Editors group.

“The delivery of the previously announced packages goes as planned. I’m not a military expert, but even from the public discussions, it looks like we need different capabilities [from what Israel needs].”

Still, Ms. Markarova acknowledged that the 155 mm rounds, in particular, are necessary for Ukraine’s ongoing defense and expressed hope that Ukraine and its international partners would be able to increase the supply.

“There is not an unlimited supply of air defense or 155 artillery munitions. ... It just means that we have to work together with our partners,” she said.

We have to be more creative. We have to find the right mix of capabilities that we have to [create] more game-changers.”

Pentagon leadership agreed with the sentiment.

“The difference here is that Israel has a very advanced military, a very Western-style military, already," Gen. Ryder told reporters on Oct. 26. "So the needs writ large are different between what Israel is asking for and what Ukraine is asking for. We are confident that we will be able to support both.”

To that end, he said, the United States is working with partners in its defense-industrial base to “ramp up production” of critical munitions such as the 155 mm rounds.

Officials at the Defense and State departments didn't respond to requests for comment as to whether the previous removal of 155 mm rounds from Israel may have limited deterrence efforts against Hamas.

A German armaments technician labels ammunition for a 155mm self-propelled howitzer, at the Rheinmetall facility in Unterluess, Germany, on June 6, 2023. (Axel Heimken/AFP via Getty Images)

Changing Needs Will Challenge US Capacity

There's no guarantee that Israel's and Ukraine’s needs will remain different.

The longer that Israel’s war in Gaza continues, the more likely the nation will be to require non-precision munitions such as the 155 mm rounds.

Read the rest here...