With rising tensions around the world, a large question looms: how many wars is the U.S. military prepared to fight at the same time? Lisa Fletcher speaks with an expert who warns our adversaries are producing ships, bombs, and bullets faster than we are.
The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Lisa: What is the state of the U.S. industrial base right now to make equipment and munitions?
John Ferrari: Well the state is not good. So in the ’70s and ’80s, we were producing hundreds of tanks a year. In the 1990s, when we talked about the peace dividends, the Defense Department called all defense contractors, and there were like 50 major defense contractors, and told them all to consolidate, and we thought we could command efficiency of production. And that has never worked and will never work.
General John Ferrari says the U.S. military strategy is to produce just enough weapons and equipment to prepare for and sustain one war at a time.
Ferrari: And that’s one of the reasons we haven’t pumped the money into the industrial base that we need to build it for multiple wars or wars of long duration.
The U.S. military has a presence in more than 175 countries around the world, where troops can be called at a moment’s notice to fight terrorism or promote political stability. And it has to be nimble to move quickly. Particularly in the Middle East, where U.S. ally Israel has been fighting since it found itself under terrorist attack in October. And even in western Europe, with some predicting Russia’s war with Ukraine could move past their border.
Ferrari: The world has been, has always been, a dangerous place. What goes on in the Middle East, what goes on in Europe, doesn’t stay there. They tend to explode in the rest of the world.
It’s not just the U.S. that’s fallen back, but also America’s European allies, like France, Germany, and the U.K., that are among the members of the NATO military alliance.
Ferrari: Our NATO allies have not kept pace in their productions of war stocks. The German army, which during the height of the Cold War had 7,000 tanks, is now down to a few hundred.
In the last decade, France, the second-highest defense spender in the European union, stopped making so much of its ammunition that it closed almost half of its storage facilities.
In the United Kingdom, the British army was so low on weapons that its military leaders reportedly considered removing rocket launchers from museums to send to help Ukraine.
While experts say America and its allies are falling short, China has the capacity to catch up. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in a sea conflict, China can replace ships faster than America, having grown its navy by 17 cruisers in the past two years — something that would take six to accomplish in the U.S.
Ferrari: So they now have more ships in the Chinese navy than there are in the United States Navy. And that should scare everybody.
Not only that, communist China’s reliance on other countries is minimal, having equipped themselves to produce most of what they need.
Ferrari: Because we buy a lot of things from China, right? So we give them the scale they need to then produce their defense goods. And so, in many respects, the rest of the world is helping China to arm itself.
Lisa: All of this can’t be a secret to our adversaries.
Ferrari: If you go back to two years ago, we retreated out of Afghanistan, right? We left. And we said, well, if you just do war against us for long enough, we’ll lose patience and we’ll leave. So that’s the game that Putin’s playing right now in Ukraine. And is it a coincidence that Hamas decided, “Well now’s the time.” The Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese, and the North Koreans are going to cause problems. And it’s the nature of warfare and politics internationally, if you see your opponent tied up and tied down, you attack at that point.
Ferrari says weapons stockpiles aren’t the only concern. The U.S. military is also facing a recruiting crisis, the likes of which it has not seen in 50 years.
For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher.
Watch video here.
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