President Biden is asking lawmakers for $550 million to establish a new Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund plus billions of dollars to replenish U.S. military stocks in the wake of multiple security assistance packages for Ukraine.
The initiative is part of a broader request for $33 billion in supplemental funding request for security, economic and humanitarian aid that the White House submitted to Congress Thursday.
The $550 million would help to “procure high-demand munitions for the U.S. and approved coalition partners, build critical war reserves, and expedite availability of munition systems,” according to the White House.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III said the fund will allow the department to purchase and establish a “strategic reserve” of vital capabilities like anti-aircraft and anti-tank munitions, and enable the department “to surge for this crisis, and quite frankly, crises to come.”
Earlier this week after meeting with allies and partners at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss long-term security assistance to Ukraine, Austin had noted the “tremendous demand that we’re facing for munitions and weapons platforms.”
There is a need to provide “staunch support to Ukraine while also meeting our own requirements and those of our allies and partners,” he said at Ramstein.
Of the $33 billion in supplemental funding requested Thursday, $20.4 billion would go toward additional security and military assistance for Ukraine and other U.S. efforts to strengthen European security in cooperation with NATO allies and other partners in the region.
That includes $5 billion in additional drawdown authority for transferring DOD stocks, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative directly supports Ukraine by funding the acquisition of critical defense capabilities and equipment.
A total of $5.4 billion in the package would help replenish DOD stocks of weapons and other systems provided to Ukraine.
Another $1.9 billion would go toward cybersecurity, intelligence and “other defense support.”
“This funding supports ongoing operational surges across multiple national defense components, including accelerated cyber capabilities, weapons systems upgrades, increased intelligence support, improving industrial base production capabilities for missiles and strategic minerals, and classified programs,” the White House fact sheet said.
An additional $50 million would go toward establishing a Defense Exportability Transfer Account to enable the Department of Defense to make more systems exportable and interoperable with coalition partners.
In a letter to Congress, Biden said: “Additional security assistance will put urgently needed equipment into the hands of Ukraine’s military and police, including ammunition, armored vehicles, small arms, demining assistance, and unmanned aircraft systems.”
He added: “There is no doubt that continuing to support Ukraine in this war against Russian aggression will require a substantial additional investment on our part. What I want to make clear to the Congress and the American people is this: the cost of failing to stand up to violent aggression in Europe has always been higher than the cost of standing firm against such attacks.”
The funding in the supplemental request would dwarf the $3.4 billion in security assistance that the United States has provided to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24
According to the DOD, as of April 22 U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine included: more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 5,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; 700 Switchblade tactical unmanned aerial systems; 121 newly developed Phoenix Ghost drones; an undisclosed number of Puma drones; an undisclosed number of mysterious “unmanned coastal defense vessels”; and a slew of other capabilities.
There has been bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for providing security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. However, lawmakers and others in the national security community have also expressed concern about the pace of the drawdown of DOD munitions stocks. They have called for additional investments to replenish them and bolster production capacity. The supplemental funding request put forward by the Biden administration is partly aimed at addressing those concerns.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at a Thursday afternoon press conference at the Pentagon.