Bureaucratic red tape is significantly slowing the ability of the United States to get weapons to Ukraine, despite the urgent need.
Politico reported Tuesday that defense industry executives, lobbyists, and technology experts at the Pentagon are frustrated that the system set up to acquire weapons, and ship them to the war-torn country, is taking too long, creating a "huge lag time" between the time the money is approved and when the gear arrives.
"Industry can move very quickly when given a clear signal," Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning, a former secretary of the Army, told Politico. "It's usually the government that's the slow side of the partnership."
While Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the U.S. needs to get cutting-edge equipment to Ukraine at "the speed of war" to help that nation hold off the Russian invasion, an anonymous industry official said the military bureaucracy is sending "mixed messages" about the urgency of getting the equipment to Ukraine while implementing "lumbering" military aid process red tape, according to the report.
The Department of Defense asked industry and commercial partners in April for information about their capabilities to deliver weapons and equipment to Ukraine that could be rapidly deployed and required minimal training.
The purpose of the inquiry was to establish the production and capacity capabilities of vendors for equipment related to air defense, ant-armor, anti-personnel, coastal defense, drones, and communications.
Also in April, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks led a roundtable discussion with the department's eight largest contractors, including Boeing Defense, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrup Grumman, to discuss security assistance to Ukraine.
Hicks said at the time that the administration of President Joe Biden was "working around the clock" to fulfill Ukraine's security requests from U.S. stockpiles and directly ordering from industry.
According to the DOD, the United States has committed about $5.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion began Feb. 24, and $700 million in June as part of more than $40 billion in total aid.
The New York Times reported June 1 that the Biden administration is also trying to be cautious of the type of weapons and systems Ukraine gets so that Russia does not misinterpret their use as an aggressive act by the United States.
"Ukrainians have given us assurance that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory," the Times reported Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken saying on June 1, with the secretary general of NATO standing alongside him. But he immediately added that Russia was the only one to blame for the introduction of a powerful new weapon to the battlefield.
"The best way to avoid escalation is Russia to stop the aggression and the war that it started," Blinken said.
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