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REPORT: US Defense Industrial Base Not Prepared For War With China

 The U.S. defense industrial base is not prepared for a protracted war with China in the Taiwan Strait, according to a new think tank report.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found in its report that some U.S. munitions, such as long-range precision-guided munitions, would run out in less than a week of conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

The munitions shortfalls demonstrate that the U.S. defense industrial base lacks the capacity for a major war as China continues to invest in munitions and weapons systems six times faster than the U.S., the report says.

U.S. assistance to Ukraine has depleted supply of weapons such as Stinger surface-to-air missiles, 155mm howitzers and ammunition, and Javelin anti-tank missile systems, CSIS notes. The quantity of javelins sent to Ukraine as of August 2022 represented seven years of production based on fiscal year (FY) 2022 rates and the Stingers sent to Ukraine are roughly equal to 20 years worth of production, according to CSIS.

U.S. military support has enabled the Ukrainians to deter Russian aggression and demonstrates how conflict between major powers is likely to be protracted and industrial if deterrence fails, CSIS says. The U.S. has been slow to replenish its weapons stocks and it is likely to take years for the defense industrial base to produce and deliver critical weapons systems that have been used up, the CSIS report says.

The report also highlights outdated contracting procedures and bureaucracy that make deterrence more difficult and suggests streamlining them for wartime footing, according to CSIS.

“The U.S. military services have underinvested in weapons systems and munitions for a conventional war, and the DoD’s acquisition system faces challenges in creating the incentives for industry to invest in sufficient stockpiles of key weapons systems,” the report warns.

“The U.S. Department of Defense, in coordination with Congress, should develop a plan now that involves taking steps to streamline and improve production, acquisitions, replenishment, Foreign Military Sales, ITAR, and other policies and procedures,” the report specifies.

CSIS Senior Vice President Seth Jones conducted the report based on CSIS war games, interviews with dozens of national security officials, publicly available data and other CSIS analysis. “The bottom line is the defense industrial base, in my judgment, is not prepared for the security environment that now exists,” Jones said to The Wall Street Journal.

CSIS is a DC-based, bipartisan research organization specializing in national security. The think tank as a whole does not take specific policy positions.

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