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Posted by Jack Heslin on 22:27:26 07/18/23

News headline: U.S. and NATO grapple with critical ammo shortage for Ukraine. Who would have thought?

We are now hearing and reading endlessly about field artillery, the King of Battle. There are now artillery experts popping up everywhere, most of whom have never heard an artillery piece fired let alone been on the receiving end of enemy artillery fire. The public is being educated about the weapons of war in ways no one imagined just a few short months ago. Why is that?

It is amazing that the Western leadership simply did not think through the contingencies of what would be needed for a protracted Ukraine war. As we have all learned now, the Western leadership did not anticipate the huge volume of fire that would be required to conduct combat operations on the scale we are watching unfold in the Ukraine Conflict. They did not assess their capability to produce huge quantities of war stocks. What would have happened if the Russians had launched a general offensive against Western Europe? Well, we all know the answer to that question now. It is very likely that the NATO countries would have had to resort to early use of tactical nuclear weapons which would, likely, have escalated into a thermonuclear exchange that cannot even be imagined by any sane person.

How quickly we forget. The last time the American military had to deal with a huge consumption of artillery rounds was the Vietnam War. Since then, the weapons of choice, to produce effective fire for American units, have been bombs and missiles which were used in the many relatively short, violent wars fought by America. Recently, it was stated by a retired American Army general, about the use of the 155 millimeter cluster munitions that have been sent to Ukraine, that the large inventory held by America of these munitions was to meet contingency needs if there was an invasion of South Korea by North Korea. According to him, America specifically did not agree to the Convention on Cluster Munitions Treaty so that they would have this munition available if needed in Korea. Russia was also among the nations who did not agree to the treaty, and they have stated that they have a very large inventory of these munitions if they choose to use them.

After Vietnam fell in April of 1975 my wife and I took in South Vietnamese refugees. One of the refugees we met, who became a friend, was a South Vietnamese Army Lieutenant Colonel who said that when the North Vietnamese Army made their multi front combined arms attack into South Vietnam his artillery unit had only 5 rounds per gun per day to use against the attackers with very limited air support because many of the Vietnamese aircraft lacked the spare parts needed due to the lack of funding. Think about that for a minute. The American Congress had shut off funds to support the Vietnamese war effort which had been promised to them and the result was a total debacle for the South Vietnamese.

Many people forget or do not know about the circumstances faced by the South Vietnam military in early 1975. What would have happened if the Russians had only 5 rounds of ammunition per artillery gun and no air support to defend their positions? It is likely that the Ukrainian combined arms assault, even without air support, would have cut through the Russian defensive position in about three days. That is exactly what the NATO leadership expected. However, as we have all witnessed, the combination of large amounts of Russian artillery with what seems like limitless amounts of ammunition combined with effective close air support, especially helicopter gunships, completely stopped the once vaunted Ukraine offensive.

The catastrophe of NATO s inability to sustain combat operations in the Ukraine Conflict should be a wake-up call for all of us living in the West. All the political leaders of the West should be held accountable for this failure and for the enormous loss of life we are now witnessing. Russia has, and will continue to, outproduce the West with the weapons of war in the near term and maybe even into the long term.

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