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Because of Ukraine, America’s Arsenal of Democracy Is Depleting

Can America’s arms industry respond? It must help supply not only Ukraine but also European allies that are rushing to re-arm and America itself, which must replenish its stocks and worry about the risk of great-power conflict. “One of the great success stories of this war is that we have been able to supply the Ukrainians with large numbers of munitions,” says Thomas Mahnken of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think-tank in Washington. “My question is: who is going to supply the United States? Nobody.”

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Navy: New Multi-national Task force to ‘Enhance Security’ in Red Sea

Travis Sharp, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Breaking Defense the Houthis “pose an active and persistent threat to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.” He added that the circumstances in Yemen have made it increasingly difficult for the US to maintain situational awareness about the group’s capabilities. Sharp suggested Cooper’s unwillingness to connect CTF-153 with the Houthi attacks may be an issue of politics.

“If the United States were to propose an explicitly anti-Houthi task force, they might not get many countries in the region who would be willing to join that because the countries have varying perspectives on what’s happening in Yemen,” he said.

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Biden’s record defense budget draws progressive ire over spending priorities

Dr Travis Sharp, budget studies director at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the requested funding increase is more a reflection of how record-high US inflation has affected government agencies’ finances rather than the impact of the crisis in Ukraine.

“Providing a higher level of defense spending does help to correct for some of the decreasing buying power as a result of inflation,” Sharp said. “If you didn’t provide a higher level of defense spending, then you would be trying to support the same-sized military with less money, so that would force you to make some hard trade-offs.”

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Is poor morale among Russia troops undermining Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?

Katherine Kjellström Elgin, a Washington-based defence analyst and an expert on Russia’s military, also warns of the need to take the claims of various sides “with a grain of salt”.

Yet, she says some patterns do appear to be emerging, especially in relation to the conscripts sent in to fight.

“The conscripts are less well trained because they’re only expected to serve for one year,” she says. “Most of those individuals are going to have something between four to six months of training, half of which was basic training, you just don't have a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience.”

Elgin, who recently co-authored a recent piece in Politico about conscripts, with Suzanne Freeman, a PhD student candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the Russian army has a long tradition of severe bullying, or dedovshchina, dating to the Soviet era, what also impacts morale.

“For quite some time, it was really terrible. We're talking about not insignificant number of suicides, rapes, people getting beaten. Just the worst of hazing that you can imagine,” says Elgin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank that focuses on defence policy.

“After 2008 they tried to address this in part by actually shortening the amount of time that conscripts served. But there are still reports of loss of hazing occurring.”

Elgin also raises the impact on the mental health of the young troops ordered to fire barrages of artillery into residential areas and apartment blocks.

“I imagine that unless you've been psychologically prepared for this, that might hit you pretty hard,” she says.

She says such assessments could be made for all militaries. And unless there is adequate preparation and training, and good leadership, the impact is likely to be greater.

“All of these things can impact the performance of individuals,” she says.

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News Analysis: Biden, recognizing the power of Zelensky’s plea to Congress, beefs up defense aid for Ukraine

Eric Edelman, a former ambassador to Finland and Turkey who served as undersecretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, questioned the White House’s logic in determining that delivering MIG-29 jets could be deemed by Putin as escalatory when it continues to supply Javelin missiles and other weapons that are being used against Russian forces. The Biden administration rebuffed Poland’s efforts last week to transfer such jets to Ukraine.

“All of it is potentially escalatory,” Edelman said. “I wish they would stop worrying about what’s going to provoke Putin and start making Putin worry about what’s going to provoke the U.S. and NATO.”

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A Maritime Strategy to Deal with China

The United States today suffers from a critical deficit in strategic thinking about the most consequential challenge of the current era: the rise of China and the threat it poses to U.S. interests in the western Pacific and beyond. Addressing that deficit is a matter of the utmost importance and urgency. The prospect of 21st-century great power war is terra incognita.