The US is trying to train Ukrainians to change the way they fight so they use fewer artillery munitions as NATO says its stockpiles are dwindling. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin detailed the efforts after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact group in Brussels on Tuesday.
“We are working with the Ukrainian soldiers in various places throughout Europe to emphasize additional training on maneuver so that as they place more emphasis on maneuver and shaping the battlefield with fires and then maneuvering, there’s a good chance that they’ll require less artillery munitions, but that’s left to be seen,” Austin told reporters.
The defense secretary acknowledged that Ukraine has used “a lot of artillery ammunition” and said the US is doing everything it can to keep the ammo flowing. “We’re going to do everything we can, working with our international partners, to ensure that we get them as much ammunition as quickly as possible and that we’ll do everything we can to sustain our efforts there as well,” he said.
The US has sent Ukraine an enormous amount of artillery ammunition, specifically 155mm shells. As a result, the Pentagon is planning to increase its production of artillery shells by 500% over the next two years to meet the Ukrainian demand and also maintain Pentagon stockpiles.
But even with the steps to increase production, it’s not clear if the policy of flooding Ukraine with weapons and ammo is sustainable. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that Ukraine is using way more munitions than the alliance can produce.
“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions, and depleting allied stockpiles,” Stoltenberg said. “The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production, and this puts our defense industries under strain.”