By Tom Squitieri
Red Snow News
WASHINGTON — Top European defense officials — feeling the heat of being closer to the front line of the 21st century European war — have moved beyond fretting to deep concern about diminishing weapons stockpiles in their militaries.
While the Russian bear has been smacked around for the past nine months, wary defense officials are whispering loudly that production lines need to remember how to produce fast and to produce well — or else the tap of weapons to Ukraine may be turned down to a trickle.
One senior European official told me that the “West is in a critical situation.. stocks are almost empty everywhere.. western nations need to dip into the critical stocks.”
The Pentagon consistently maintains its weapons stockpiles are not at or near a danger level. However, the latest White House request to Congress for aid to Ukraine — a $37.7 billion ask — includes a subset of $21.7 billion for defense aid and equipment for Ukraine and to replenish DOD stocks.
Pentagon deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh turned peevish when asked to delineate how much of that $21.7 was for replenishment of stocks.
“I am not going to take the question because I’m answering your question,” she snapped. “I am going to tell you what we are doing, is that we are — we continue, with every PDA that we announce, with every security assistance package that we announce, we assess our own readiness and capabilities and also what needs to be replenished. I just don’t have a number or a dollar figure for you right now on what that looks like and I don’t think that’s something that we would broadcast from here, or at least something that I could broadcast from here at this time.”
“PDA” stands for Presidential Drawdown Authority.
At the recent Halifax International Security Forum, defense officials said the shortages are generation hard talk about how to balance support for Ukraine with concerns Russia may target them next. NATO members say their equation, unlike that of the U.S. or Canada, includes facing their own security concerns about Russian while helping Ukraine in its fight.
“When you are continuing to give away ammunition to Ukraine and you have to evaluate and assess the risk you take for your own readiness, you will have to take into account the threat,” the chairman of NATO’s military committee, Adm. Rob Bauer, said at the Halifax International Security Forum.
The strain on stockpiles is “across the board,” and particularly sharp for ammunition, he said. In the years before some countries donated to Ukraine, they maintained stockpiles at half capacity or less because they saw little risk or couldn’t afford more, and took a “just-in-time, just-enough,” approach to the defense industry.