Senate bill gives Pentagon wartime procurement powers

Amid the escalating war with Russia in Ukraine and US plans for war against China, the United States is moving rapidly toward a wartime mobilization of its economy.

Last week, the two top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee introduced a bill granting the Pentagon emergency wartime procurement powers, removing key peacetime limitations. on arms purchases by the Pentagon and the purchase of missiles in wartime quantities.

A US Navy HIMARS system at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. (Credit: US Marines)

In an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Bill, Democratic Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed and Republican committee member Jim Inhofe proposed a 10 times or Continued.

The bill comes as the United States steps up its involvement in its proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, while making it very clear that it is seeking to provoke a war with China over Taiwan. In both conflicts, the type of long-range weapons purchased in mass quantities under the bill are considered critical.

“Whether you want to call it wartime contracts or emergency contracts, we can’t play anymore,” a senior congressional official said. Told Defense News.

Chillingly, the aide referenced “operational plans” against China, implying that the Pentagon has a timetable for war with the world’s most populous country. “It’s hard to think of anything as high on everyone’s list as buying a ton of ammunition for the next few years, for our operational plans against China and continuing to supply Ukraine,” said the assistant.

Wartime Procurement Procedures would allow the Department of Defense to award non-competitive contracts to arms manufacturers for Ukraine-related contracts and remove restrictions requiring contractors to provide accurate data on costs – measures to protect taxpayers’ funds.

A screenshot of the proposed bill, showing the proposed purchase of 700 HIMARS systems.

The sheer number of armaments commandeered by the bill is consistent with one full-scale war – or even two. The public text of the bill calls for the purchase of 700 HIMARS systems, the long-range missile launchers credited with turning the tide of the war in Ukraine.

To date, 16 HIMARS systems have been delivered and deployed in Ukraine. The number currently purchased is more than 40 times the number sent so far.

Since the HIMARS system entered deployment approximately 20 years ago, some 540 units have been built, an average of approximately 54 units per year. This means that the current bipartisan proposal would increase the production rate by almost twenty times.

The amendment provides 6,000 ATACMS missiles, capable of hitting targets at a distance of hundreds of kilometers, and 100,000 GMLRS missiles fired by HIMARS systems in Ukraine.

To date, the United States has supplied 126 155mm howitzers to Ukraine. But the purchase for the 2023-24 fiscal year would guarantee an additional 1,000 units of the weapon.

The massively expanded military acquisition is part of a multi-year program to expand the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including the purchase of all-new intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers and submarines. nuclear-capable sailors.

In June, a strategy document adopted by NATO pledged to prepare alliance members “for high-intensity, multi-domain combat against peer-to-peer nuclear-armed competitors”.

In September, the Department of Defense announced that the United States and its allies planned to “expand the industrial base of our country” to build bombs, rockets and artillery for the war with Russia in Ukraine. .

In the name of “providing long-term support to Ukraine”, the United States and its allies have pledged to massively increase their wartime production of “ground-based long-range fire, air defense systems [and] air-to-surface munitions,” the Pentagon wrote.

Plans to put the US economy and supply chain on a war footing come amid growing demands within the US political establishment for wartime “mobilization”. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken claimed the Chinese military planned to seize Taiwan in a “much faster time frame”, amid the deepening Sino-US standoff over the Straits of Taiwan.

The conflict between the United States and China escalated in August with the visit to Taiwan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Elbridge Colby, one of the main authors of the 2018 national defense strategy, called for a national “mobilization” against China. “Why are we not on a national mobilization footing? Coby asked. “If we go into a war, we have to be, but by then it may be too late.”

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Calls for the aggressive expansion of the US industrial base for wartime procurement come against the backdrop of provocative war games being waged by the US across Europe.

On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed that the United States had placed the battle group of the aircraft carrier George HW Bush under NATO control as part of a major military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

Asked by a reporter on Monday “what kind of message the United States was trying to send to Russia by doing this,” a Pentagon spokesman replied“It just shows the power of the Alliance”, adding “we will defend every square inch of NATO territory”.

The maritime operation, known as Neptune Strike, is taking place simultaneously with a US nuclear warfare training exercise known as Steadfast Noon, in which B-52 bombers and F-16 fighters simulate the dropping of atomic bombs on Europe.

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In a context of escalating tensions, strikes by the Russian and Ukrainian military targeting civilian infrastructure raged on both sides of the border between the two countries on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

On Sunday, RIA Novosti reported that 16 explosions were heard across the Russian city of Belgorod, about 25 miles from the Ukrainian border. On the same day, the administrative building of the city of Donetsk in the Donbass, occupied by the Russians, was destroyed by shelling.

These strikes were followed on Monday and Tuesday by a series of airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, including in kyiv, and Ukrainian authorities reported that a third of the country’s power plants had been damaged.

US-aligned military analysts have rejoiced that the attacks on civilians have depleted the stockpile of weapons available to Russian forces, with the UK Ministry of Defense saying: “The Russian defense industry is probably unable to produce advanced munitions at the rate they are being spent”. He added that Russia’s depletion of its long-range missiles “is likely to limit their ability to hit the volume of targets they want in the future.”

In other words, the United States and its NATO allies view Ukrainian civilians as little more than cannon fodder, absorbing Russia’s long-range missiles and providing an advantage on the battlefield. to NATO-aligned forces.

In March, President Joe Biden said the United States would “not send offensive equipment” to Ukraine because it would trigger “World War III.” Over the following months, the United States flooded Ukraine with armored vehicles, long-range missiles, drones and even aircraft. On Oct. 7, Biden warned that the escalating war in Ukraine risked bringing “Armageddon” – referring to nuclear war.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to launch a nuclear strike if the United States or NATO sought to attack the Russian homeland or territories annexed by Russia last month.

On October 6, a day before Biden’s “Armageddon” comment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, at a meeting of an Australian think tank, called on NATO to carry out preemptive strikes against Russia to prevent the “Possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons”.

“What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” Zelensky said. “We need pre-emptive strikes, so they know what will happen to them if they use nuclear weapons, not the other way around.”

Zelenzky’s comments raised questions about whether he was advocating that the United States carry out a nuclear attack on Russia as the only way to cripple Russian nuclear capabilities.

The escalation of the US war campaign is in line with the Biden administration’s national security strategy released last week, which pledged to expand the US military, ‘integrate’ economic life into war and “winning the competition for the 21st century”. in what he called the “decisive decade”.

In his letter announcing the strategy, Biden said that “our national defense strategy is based on integrated deterrence: the seamless combination of military…and non-military domains….”

The White House backgrounder on the document states that “the Biden-Harris administration has broken the line between domestic and foreign policy.”

As the Biden administration escalates its full-scale war plans with Russia and China, it is clear that these war plans will result in a massive assault on the social, economic and political rights of the working class, who will be told that it must accept poor wages and intolerable working conditions in the name of the war effort.

The relentless escalation of war must be stopped! We urge anyone who agrees with this prospect to contact us today.

Norman D. Briggs