Pentagon: Don’t ‘Necessarily Agree’ Arming Ukraine Keeps Us from Meeting Future Needs, But ‘It Can Affect’ Ability to Arm Taiwan

During an interview on Wednesday aired on Friday’s broadcast of “PBS NewsHour,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante said he doesn’t “necessarily agree” that as we’re reducing weapons stockpiles to arm Ukraine we aren’t doing enough on the production side to meet future needs and that arming Ukraine “can affect” our ability to arm Taiwan, “But there’s less overlap, perhaps, than people believe.”

“PBS NewsHour” Foreign Affairs and Defense Correspondent Nick Schifrin asked, “You heard Seth Jones in the package there saying that, as stockpiles in the U.S. are being drawn down, production lines aren’t expanding enough to meet future requirements. Do you agree?”

LaPlante responded, “I think that that’s a subjective comment. I actually don’t necessarily agree. I think we’re going across the board and putting billions of dollars in investment, across, in these companies. And it’s going to be rapidly ramping up. And so, really, what’s at stake here is a time issue. It’s, we will rank up — ramp up, and we are ramping up right now. And the question is — arguably, is racing against time. And that’s where we are.”

Schifrin also asked, “And, finally, how do you prioritize orders, especially moving forward? You’ve argued that the weapons going to Ukraine do not affect some of the weapons orders, for example, that Taiwan is making. But the fact is, the U.S. is behind on some of the orders it has promised to Taiwan. So, what is that priority? And does one theater affect the other?”

LaPlante answered, “It can affect. But there’s less overlap, perhaps, than people believe. I’ll give you the example for Taiwan. There is a backlog for Taiwan. It happens to be on items like F-16 and the production of F-16. That’s a lot of it, which, to date, even though there [have] been discussions, hasn’t been a player in…Ukraine. Where I will say that there is something that we all have to watch is the underlying suppliers, the suppliers of solid rocket motors, of batteries, of energetics. Those are common across all domains. And that’s where we’ve also been putting our emphasis.”

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