In the now classic 1967 film The Graduate, protagonist Benjamin Braddock, being feted with a graduation party, is pulled aside by a friend of his parents. Mr Maguire says he has only one word for Ben: “plastics.” Then, using more words, Maguire tells Ben, “There’s a great future in plastics.”
Today it looks more and more like there is a great future in ammunition, which is in short supply in Ukraine and Russia, and in the United States and elsewhere in NATO. Although it’s open to debate whether the future in ammunition can indeed be called great (depends on how you define “great”), there is certainly a huge need out there, and there are profits to be made.
The widespread ammunition shortage has caught nearly all war professionals (planners, operators, analysts) by surprise. The Ukraine war is eating up available ammunition supplies at a huge rate.
Reportedly, the the Russians alone are firing off 20,000 artillery rounds a day. And, while we don’t have reliable numbers from the Ukrainian side, they are using their big guns so heavily that hundreds of them are being sent to Poland and elsewhere for urgent repairs.
Most of the NATO players are out of ammunition, or nearly so. The German Defense Ministry has said it could only fight a war for about a week because of supply and manpower shortages, while a German lawmaker in the know says the limit is more like two days.
Germany has offshored important parts of its ammunition production, mostly to Switzerland. The Swiss, because of their neutrality laws, won’t ship any ammunition (directly or indirectly) to Ukraine. The Germans have asked at the highest level at least twice, but Swiss lawmakers, including those on the right who support Ukraine, favor protecting Swiss neutrality.
The impact is plain to see. Gepard air defense tanks, also known as Cheetah flak guns, were gifted to Ukraine by the German army. These flak guns are a weapon of last resort against drones and cruise missiles, but they require a lot of specialized ammunition.
Read the rest at Asia Times.
Stephen Bryen is a Senior Fellow at Yorktown Institute