Thursday, April 21, 2022

America: the Arsenal of Democracy Again

We cannot do anything about the continental powerhouses in NATO who can also make a big difference helping the Ukrainians defend their soil. Specifically Germany and France, who mostly insist on token assistance or sitting on the sidelines relatively speaking as Russia gets ready for a mid-20th Century like summer offensive east of the Carpathians, but we can do what we can do.

Though our industrial capacity is not ready to support a long, global conflict - we do have quite a deep warehouse of items that are slightly used, but good for a few more years.

As we have already come off the sidelines in the Russo-Ukrainian War when it comes to supplying lethal aid, we might as well not hold back at this point

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced an additional $800 million in military aid to help Ukraine fight back against the Russian invasion, and he warned that Congress will need to approve additional assistance.

The new military package includes much needed heavy artillery, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, and drones for Ukrainian forces in the escalating battle for the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. It builds on roughly $2.6 billion in military assistance that Biden had previously approved.

He also announced that all Russian-affiliated ships would be barred from U.S. ports.

Biden said that $13.6 billion approved last month by Congress for military and humanitarian assistance was “almost exhausted.”

“Next week, I’m going to have to be sending to Congress a supplemental budget request to keep weapons and ammunition deployed without interruption,” Biden said. Congress has signaled it is receptive to further requests and has been expecting there would be a need for further help for the Ukrainians.

Today's announcement has set down a clear marker to the rest of the nations who call themselves "The West."

We should all note who is standing where.

The new tranche of military assistance is expected to include 72 155mm howitzers, 144,000 artillery rounds, 72 vehicles used to tow to the howitzers onto the battlefield, and over 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones, as well as field equipment and spare parts.

The 72 howitzers are in addition to the 18 announced last week the U.S. was transferring to Ukraine.

A senior U.S. defense official said training of Ukrainian personnel on American 155mm howitzers has begun in a European country outside Ukraine.

Other nations are slowly coming off the sidelines too. The longer the Ukrainians hold out - and the more we continue to support them - the more of our traditional allies will help too.

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will send heavy artillery to Ukraine. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Netherlands will send more heavy weapons, including armored vehicles.

What 155mm towed artillery are we sending their way? Don't know. We presently use the M777, but we have a few hundred M198 they replaced in storage. Either will be fine, but we'll see.

Everyone should really go to the map room here, preferably grabbing one that shows terrain features. Southeastern Ukraine is wide open country. 

As the ground firms up, it is ideal for armor and artillery. This is well targeted aid for the fight to come;

This commitment, together with the 18 155mm howitzers announced on April 13, provides enough artillery systems to equip five battalions. The United States has now committed more than $4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $3.4 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24.

Our allies have a lot of towed 155mm in storage. We've supplied enough 155mm for five battalions, I am sure the rest of NATO can pony up for another five. I also know that there are A LOT of 155mm rounds in bunkers all over the continent from Spain to Germany; from Italy to Norway. If they won't spare the tubes, then they can at least clean out the back of the magazine. 

Summer is almost here. It takes awhile to transport, train, and man battalions of artillery. Faster my friends; faster. We are already in it, might as well help the Ukrainians win it.

Now, if someone would kindly jump in to comments and let us know what the hell a "Phoenix Ghost" is ... that would be great.

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