The United States and its NATO allies have spent tens of billions of dollars helping Ukraine defend itself from a brutal Russian invasion, and rightly so. But the Pentagon, the military services, and the big weapons contractors appear to be poised to seize on this crisis to permanently expand the size and scope of the U.S. arms industry in ways that go far beyond what is needed to help Ukraine in its current conflict.
Plans that have been floated so far include building new weapons factories, dramatically boosting production of ammunition, anti-tank weapons and other systems, and easing oversight of weapons procurement. These changes will come at a cost that over time will run into tens of billions of dollars above current spending plans, and possibly more — much more.
This drive to rapidly expand the size and reach of the military-industrial complex is both unnecessary and unwise. The rush to do so while reducing existing safeguards against waste and poor performance risks promoting price gouging and substandard production even as it ties up funds that could be used more effectively on other urgent priorities.
How much of the rhetoric about expanding arms production capacity translates into reality remains to be seen, but there are some early clues. More will be known once Congress passes the Fiscal Year 2023 Pentagon spending bill and the administration announces its proposal for Fiscal Year 2024 early next year. But preliminary indications suggest a possible bonanza for an arms industry that is already flush with cash from near record Pentagon outlays and a growing global market for U.S. equipment.
Read the full piece in Forbes.