Navy Secretary says US can’t maintain support for Ukraine if weapons makers don’t ramp up production

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro warned Wednesday that continued support for Ukraine will be difficult if weapons makers don’t ramp up production in the next six to 12 months. 

The comments came on the sidelines of the Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, Va. Del Toro was asked to respond to remarks by Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, that the U.S. Navy may ultimately have to decide between arming itself or the Ukrainians. 

FILE: US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro speaks during the United States Naval Academy 2022 Graduation Ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland on May 27, 2022. 

FILE: US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro speaks during the United States Naval Academy 2022 Graduation Ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland on May 27, 2022.  (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Del Toro said the Navy wasn’t “quite there yet,” but argued that the supply chain would be stressed if the conflict goes on for another six months. 

“It’s obvious that … these companies have a substantial pipeline for the future,” Del Toro said. “They now need to invest in their workforce, as well as the capital investments that they had to make within their own companies to get their production up.” 

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During his talk, Caudle chastised defense companies for blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on missing weapons delivery deadlines, Defense One reported

“I’m not as forgiving of the defense industrial base. I’m just not,” he said. “I am not forgiving of the fact that you’re not delivering the ordnance we need. All this stuff about COVID, this … supply chain, I just don’t really care. We’ve all got tough jobs.”

A M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) takes part in a military exercise near Liepaja, Latvia September 26, 2022.

A M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) takes part in a military exercise near Liepaja, Latvia September 26, 2022. (Reuters)

Later clarifying on his remarks, Del Toro said the Department of Defense has been working “very, very closely” with the industry “to motivate them to find out what their challenges or obstacles are, to be able to increase their own production rates.”

“It’s obvious that these companies have a substantial pipeline for the future. They now need to invest in their people, again, their workforce, as well as the capital investments that they have to make within their own companies to get their production rates up,” he said. 

“So, when that occurs, we’ll be in a better place. How long that takes often varies from weapon system to weapon system.” 

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To date, Congress has authorized nearly $100 billion to Ukraine. The hefty sum has prompted some Republican lawmakers to demand more accountability about how the money is being spent. 

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