Navy Secretary Says Arming Both U.S. and Ukraine Could Become ‘Challenging’

155 mm shells
Alex Brandon, File/AP

U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Wednesday warned that the U.S. may soon have a difficult time arming both the Navy and Ukraine, in a rare admission by a Biden administration official of the risks of sending billions in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.

Del Toro was asked by a reporter at a naval conference, as first reported by Defense One, if he was worried that “the Navy might get to the point where it has to make the decision whether it needs to arm itself or arm Ukraine, and has the Navy gotten to the point yet?”

Del Toro responded:

With regards to deliveries of weapons systems for the fight in Ukraine…Yeah, that’s always a concern for us. And we monitor that very, very closely. I wouldn’t say we’re quite there yet, but if the conflict does go on for another six months, for another year, it certainly continues to stress the supply chain in ways that are challenging.

Del Toro was speaking to a group of reporters on the sidelines of the Surface Navy Association in Virginia.

However, Del Toro was not alone in expressing concern about the defense industry being strained by producing weapons for Ukraine versus the U.S. military.

The reporter’s question was in reference to earlier remarks by U.S. Fleet Forces Command Commander Adm. Daryl Caudle at the same conference.

Caudle was asked by a moderator his perspective on how “we’re going to be able to balance our readiness versus the demand signal that’s coming in from the Ukraine and the issues we’ve had with the supply chain in the past, whether it be from COVID or from the stress being put on it now.”

Caudle complained about defense contractors not delivering weapons on time to the Navy, adding:

When I want to help a country out like Ukraine, I’m not [talking] about, you know. what it’s doing to me, I’m talking about, of course, we’re going to help a country deliver the stuff we need, so they can win that conflict against Russia and it’s not going to destroy and put me back into the dark ages.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. Congress has allocated $113 billion to Ukraine, including over $19 billion in military assistance — much of it from the U.S. military’s inventories.

President Joe Biden has vowed to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently appealed to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) after he won the speakership, telling him that Ukraine is counting on his “continued support.”

“Congratulations to @GOPLeader on his election as the Speaker of the [United States] House of Representatives,” Zelensky tweeted.

“U.S. support in all fields has been vital for [Ukraine’s] success on the battlefield. We’re counting on your continued support and further U.S. assistance to bring our common victory closer,” he added.

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