Sat. May 25th, 2024

WASHINGTON – As Congress mulls President Biden’s request for $75.7 billion to send additional weapons to Ukraine and Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday he does not believe either nation could win their respective wars without American help.

“My assessment is that if the United States does not continue to support Ukraine, they will not succeed,” Austin said, adding that Israel would also fail to eliminate Hamas in the Gaza Strip without US aid.

Austin made the statement at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, where he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lobbied lawmakers to support the defense and diplomatic portion of Biden’s $107 billion supplemental funding request presented to Congress on Oct. 20.

The White House ask includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel.

It also includes roughly $10 billion for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday he does not believe either nation could win their respective wars without American help.ZUMAPRESS.com

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The remaining funds are earmarked to address the crisis at the US southern border.

While the Biden administration wants the entire package passed together, House Republicans want to see the aid for Ukraine, Israel and the border split into separate bills as support for Kyiv wanes among some Republicans.

Earlier this month, NATO Military Committee head Admiral Rob Bauer, the alliance’s top military officer, said that when it comes to Western munitions in Ukraine, “the bottom of the barrel is now visible.”

“My assessment is that if the United States does not continue to support Ukraine, they will not succeed,” Austin said, adding that Israel would also fail to eliminate Hamas in the Gaza Strip without US aid.HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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As of Tuesday, the US had about $5.4 billion left to send Ukraine weapons and military equipment from the Defense Department’s stockpile, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters.

The new $61.4 billion request for Ukraine includes $12 billion to purchase new key weapons; $18 billion to restock equipment in US military stockpiles that had been given to Kyiv; $10.7 billion for “cybersecurity and intelligence support,” as well as for keeping up the “enhanced presence of US personnel deployed in Europe” since the war began, Austin said.

Support for Israel so far has come from the $3.3 billion the US sends annually in military aid as part of a ten-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2018.

Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been lobbying lawmakers to support the defense and diplomatic portion of Biden’s $107 billion supplemental funding request presented to Congress last week.ZUMAPRESS.com

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That support has included air-defense capabilities, precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs and interceptors for the the country’s vitally important Iron Dome system sent “at the speed of war,” Austin said.

But as the US ramps up its security assistance to the Jewish state in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, defense officials say the country will need more than the annual funding to successfully fight a war.

The Israel request includes “$5.2 billion to help Israel increase the capacity of its Iron Dome and other air-defense systems,” as well as $4.4 billion to replenish Pentagon stocks of weapons provided to Israel and $1 billion “to boost our own capacity to produce critical munitions, especially 155-millimeter artillery,” Austin said.

While the Biden administration wants the entire package passed together, House Republicans want to see the aid for Ukraine, Israel and the border split into separate bills as support for Kyiv wanes among some Republicans.Getty Images

Israel-Hamas war: How we got here

2005: Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip over three decades after winning the territory from Egypt in the Six-Day War.

2006: Terrorist group Hamas wins a Palestinian legislative election.

2007: Hamas seizes control of Gaza in a civil war.

2008: Israel launches military offensive against Gaza after Palestinian terrorists fired rockets into the town of Sderot.

2023: Hamas launches the biggest attack on Israel in 50 years, in an early-morning ambush Oct. 7, firing thousands of rockets and sending dozens of militants into Israeli towns.

Terrorists killed more than 1,400 Israelis, wounded more than 4,200, and took at least 200 hostage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to announce “We are at war,” and vowed Hamas would pay “a price it has never known.”

Gaza health officials — which are controlled by Hamas — report at least 3,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 12,500 injured since the war began.

Additionally, Ryder said the US has sent Israel “precision-guided munitions,” but declined to list any other military equipment being sent, citing security concerns.

Should Congress agree to provide the requested funding, it is unclear how fast military assistance could be sent as the American defense industrial base has struggled to keep up with demand caused by the Ukraine war while keeping its own military stocked with enough weapons and equipment.

“If we had to only resource ourselves, (we would be producing enough), but we’re at a point in time where we’re resourcing allies and partners like Ukraine, and it’s going to require more,” Austin said.

To help address that need, the DOD is also requesting “$3.7 billion to expand production capacity in our industrial base” as part of the package, he added.

“These investments will also significantly improve our production capacities far into the future – and help ensure that we are ready to tackle security challenges worldwide.”

Austin added that roughly $50 billion of the request would “flow through our defense industrial base, rushing aid to our partners while creating good American jobs in more than 30 states.”

“When we send our friends munitions from our stockpiles, the money to replenish our supplies strengthens our military readiness – and we invest in American industry and American workers.”

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