Pentagon Warns Ukraine Can’t Maintain U.S.-Supplied Arsenals: Weapons Shortages Continue to Worsen

Pentagon Inspector General Robert P. Storch has warned that the United States has not made plans or preparations to maintain, service or repair the tanks, armoured vehicles and air defence systems Washington has supplied to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.  This failure to plan, he stated, “puts at risk Ukraine’s ability to fight effectively using the U.S.-provided equipment, as well as the DoD’s readiness to address other national security threats if needed.” The Inspector-General further revealed in two redacted reports, which cited inspectors warning that the Department of Defence “had not developed or implemented a plan” to maintain any of these assets, which they highlighted indicated weaponry likely could be sustained past October 2024. Maintenance was described in the reports as an “afterthought” as the Pentagon strongly prioritised arming Ukraine “as quickly as possible.” Inspectors were thus informed by an official with the U.S. Military’s European Command that “the current model would not be sustainable or effective over the longer term.”  

The recent reports further highlighted that vehicles and missile systems supplied to Ukraine were taken from the U.S. Army’s own stocks “without limits” under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, with inspectors informed by an official that if this practice continued, it “may require the [Department of Defence] to choose between the readiness of [Ukrainian] units or the readiness of U.S. units.” Parts shortages and a lack of sufficient production lines or trained personnel have been leading factors, restricting the American defence sector’s ability to replenish donated equipment. Issues with operating Western equipment have persisted despite a very widespread on the ground presence of personnel from Western countries, which has included not only volunteers, but also contractors paid primarily by European governments, as well as active duty personnel from Western militaries such as British Royal Marines. Issues regarding servicing and maintenance of new equipment from NATO member states has been considerably more serious still for European equipment. Taking German built Leopard 2 tanks as an example, the majority delivered to the Ukrainian Army have been rendered inoperable in combat, and while over one quarter have been totally destroyed the remainder that are out of service have been damaged beyond the Army’s ability to repair them. 

Inspector-General Storch elaborated regarding issues with maintenance of American equipment in Ukraine: “The DoD [department of defence] provided Ukraine with armoured vehicles and air defence systems without a plan to ensure their long-term usefulness… While the DoD is currently working on developing such a plan, the lack of foresight in this matter is concerning.” The Pentagon sent “limited spare parts, ammunition, and maintenance support” and “did not coordinate or tailor those efforts into a comprehensive sustainment plan,” he added. In the two redacted reports revealed by the Inspector-General it was further revealed that 186 Bradley and 189 Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 31 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks had been delivered to Ukraine, although the number of Patriot air defence systems sent was not specified. These assets represent only a small minority of overall U.S. arms supplies to the country, however, with prominent examples of other equipment provided in considerable quantities including M777 155mm howitzers and Javelin man, portable anti-tank missile systems.