William A. Galston’s latest Wall Street Journal column is essentially a plea for the United States to start building a lot more heavy weaponry. I want to focus on this passage:
It is above all the artillery imbalance between Russia and Ukraine that is driving current results on the battlefield, and Kyiv is urgently asking Europe and the U.S. to expand and accelerate its deliveries of heavy weapons. Mykhailo Podolyak, a key adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said that the country needs 300 multiple rocket-launch systems and 1,000 howitzers to combat the Russians, far more than its allies have considered providing.
1,000 howitzers is more than the United Kingdom, France, and Germany possess in aggregate. It is approximately half the number possessed by the United States. The enormity of the Ukrainian ask is among the reasons I have been skeptical of the Western confidence in the outcome of the war since the start. And what of the logistical and training requirements?
This will take time, and so will deploying modern NATO artillery and missile launchers. The problem is not only providing equipment, but also training troops to use them, which can take several months. American instructors are trying to shorten this cycle, but even in the best case it will be a long time (if ever) before Ukraine can attain parity in artillery and missiles.
Are we actually willing or able to supply Ukraine for the sort of war that is emerging in Ukraine? That’s a question. I don’t know the answer. We can’t wave the equipment the Ukrainians are requesting into existence. How long would it take us to build it?