25 January 2023



Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, there has been a flurry of analyses, op-eds, and commentaries expressing considerable concern for the health of the United States’ defense industrial base (DIB) given the unprecedented level of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.1 This brief will first provide an overview as to why the U.S. foreign and defense policy establishment is currently expressing concern for the health of the DIB and then conduct a survey of recent Congressional and Executive actions taken and proposals made to strengthen the DIB. From there, the brief will articulate how these current actions and proposals do not actually address the root causes of the perceived weakness of the DIB, but instead act only to increase the annual U.S. government funds directed to the military contractors that already dominate the defense industrial base. In that sense, actions to strengthen the U.S. DIB are best characterized as constituting an additional, unrecognized, cost of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. 1. Alice Speri, “U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine Grows to Historic Proportions — Along with Risks,” The Intercept, 9/10/2022, theintercept. com/2022/09/10/ukraine-military-aid-weapons-oversight/. 

Why is the U.S. Foreign & Defense Policy Establishment Expressing Concern for the DIB? One of the primary methods through which the Biden administration has provided security assistance to Ukraine has been through the use of the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). This Authority pulls weapons systems, arms, equipment, and other materiel directly from U.S. Department of Defense stockpiles and allows for deliveries to occur within days of authorization.2 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) are the foremost alternatives to PDA, but equipment ordered through these two funding sources is frequently newly-manufactured meaning that deliveries may not take place for months or years at current production rates. A $1.1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine in September, for example, included 18 High Mobility Artillery Systems (HIMARS) that would be manufactured through the USAI in a process scheduled to take multiple years to complete while other equipment in the same package is expected to be delivered in six to twenty-four months.3 The Drawdown Authority, FMF, and the USAI have all been heavily drawn upon to provide military aid to Ukraine, but the Presidential Drawdown Authority “remains the U.S. government’s most responsive tool to rapidly transfer U.S. military and other equipment in an unanticipated emergency that cannot be addressed by other means.”4 As the Security Assistance Monitor has previously reported, of the roughly $19 billion in U.S. military aid provided to Ukraine to date since February 24, 2022, approximately $11.5 billion, or 60%, has come through the Presidential Drawdown Authority.5

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