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Intensity of conflict creates unprecedented need for weapons, munitions

The intensity of conflict in the 21st century and the need for weapons and munitions has been a learning experience for American defense officials working to supply Ukraine for its fight against Russia.

A U.S. Marine Corps M777 towed 155 mm howitzer is loaded into the back of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at March Air Reserve Base, California, April 24, 2022. The howitzers are part of the United States’ efforts, alongside allies and partners, to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Royce H. Dorman)

William A. LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said the need “really outpaces anything we’ve seen in recent memory.”

LaPlante spoke during a May 6, 2022, Pentagon news conference. He said European allies are seeing the same situation and all are working together to get the Ukrainians what they need.

The United States is using several different funding vehicles to rush weapons and munitions to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country on Feb. 24.

One account — the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative — is indicative of this need. Under this, the United States has sent $61.4 million in communications gear to Ukraine. Another $19.7 million went into Puma unmanned aerial vehicles, and $17.8 million went to Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicles.

It’s not all just weapons systems and munitions. Under the program, the Defense Department sent $2 million worth of binoculars to Ukraine, $1.2 million in meals and ready-to-eat rations and $4.9 million in medical supplies.

Many systems the Ukrainians have utilized against the Russians, like Javelin anti-armor and Stinger air defense systems, came from Army and Marine Corps war stocks. These stocks need to be replenished, and LaPlante said the goal is to ultimately replace the systems on a one-for-one basis where possible.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Alex Gernandt, a targeting officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, passes along a box of donations to the sorting area in Torun, Poland, April 6, 2022. The U.S. presence in Europe and its ability to respond during crises quickly reassure allies of their strong partnership. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gabriel Rivera)

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