High Time to Revisit Eisenhower Military-Industrial Complex Warning

US has highest defense budget in the world. 3.7 times #2 China.

Yet the US is having difficulty supplying Ukraine & its own military and fulfilling prior sales of defense equipment to Taiwan.

From Rockets to Ball Bearings, Pentagon Struggles to Feed War Machine

The Navy admiral had a blunt message for the military contractors building precision-guided missiles for his warships, submarines and planes at a moment when the United States is dispatching arms to Ukraine and preparing for the possibility of conflict with China.

“Look at me. I am not forgiving the fact you’re not delivering the ordnance we need. OK?” Adm. Daryl Caudle, who is in charge of delivering weapons to most of the Navy’s East Coast-based fleet, warned contractors during an industry gathering in January.

His open frustration reflects a problem that has become worryingly apparent as the Pentagon dispatches its own stocks of weapons to help Ukraine hold off Russia and Washington warily watches for signs that China might provoke a new conflict by invading Taiwan: The United States lacks the capacity to produce the arms that the nation and its allies need at a time of heightened superpower tensions.

so far, the United States sent Ukraine so many Stinger missiles from its own stocks that it would take 13 years’ worth of production at recent capacity levels to replace them. It has sent so many Javelin missiles that it would take five years at last year’s rates to replace them, according to Raytheon, the company that helps make the missile systems.

If a large-scale war broke out with China, within about one week the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles, a vital weapon in any engagement with China, according to a series of war-game exercises conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

How did we reach this sorry state of affairs?

Well defense industry concentration is one reason.
There are only two contractors today that build large numbers of rocket motors for missile systems used by the Air Force, the Navy, the Army and the Marines, down from six in 1995.

A recent fire disrupted the assembly line at one of the two remaining suppliers, Aerojet Rocketdyne, causing further delays in delivering the SM-6 and other precision missile systems, even as Pentagon orders for thousands of new missiles pile up.

There is also only one company, Williams International, that builds turbofan engines for most cruise missiles, according to Seth G. Jones, a former Defense Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, weapons that would be vital for any war with China given their long range.

And another reason is the defense industry lobbying for expensive new weapon platforms over munition production. Why? Because that is a high margin cost plus business.
But the lower-priced items — like the missiles and other munitions — became an easy way to cut budgets to keep up spending on the big-ticket items.

“It’s becomes very attractive when our budgets are being balanced, to balance them on the munitions funds, because it’s fungible money,” Mr. LaPlante said. “We really allowed production lines to go cold and watched as parts became obsolete.”

That habit has also extended to European allies such as Poland, which has committed to buying F-35 fighter jets, which cost about $80 million a piece, but not enough missiles to use them for more than about two weeks in a war, said Mr. Hayes, the chief executive of Raytheon, whose Pratt & Whitney division builds engines for the fighter.

Of course our government is now throwing more money at munition production which will increase US defense spending which will likely surpass a trillion dollars a year soon. If the current path is continued demands will be made upon other US government spending to fund the ever expanding defense department. And the only place they can find that money is entitlements. There simply is no other place to find that scale additional spending.
See 2023 US budget pie chart: US Fed Spending Pie Chart for 2023 - Charts>

Or our government could cut back expensive new shiny weapon platforms. But that is unlikely to occur as congressional support for new weapon platforms is bought & paid for by the defense lobbyists.


That seems to be the actual strategy, and not an oversight (and not just for them). Right or wrong, it is the threat of initial violence more so than the ability to sustain it that is used as the deterrent.

1 Like

Isn’t healthcare more expensive than defense?

The Captain

1 Like

A fraction of the population, but a vast majority of the defense spending. :frowning:

Ayup. I have commented before that, for some time now, the priority seems to be milking the “development” phase. Lockheed milked the F-35’s development for close to 20 years. How many B-2s did we get, for the “development” spending? How many Zumwalt class DDs did we get for the Billions in “development”? How many usable LCSes did we get for funding two “development” programs? Raytheon has been “developing” a knockoff of the Israeli Trophy system for over a decade, with nothing to show for it. SDI has been under “development” since the 80s.

If the US defense contractors operated like this in 1940, we would have lost WWII.



meanwhile…as the Russians draw down their munitions stocks, there is persistent chatter they will buy weapons from China. Some time ago, I suggested that Russia will trade coal and oil to North Korea for their weapons stocks. Close. Chatter says Russia is proposing bartering food to NK for weapons.

In a perfect world, all the bad guys will burn up their ammo stocks in Ukraine, the same way the west is, so there won’t be any other war, because no-one will have the ammo.

1 Like

Well sure, but healthcare is more beneficial for the US populace.
Europe learned after 2 world wars that pouring money into healthcare systems & education systems & retirement systems with good benefits was more beneficial to their countries/populations than giving too much money to defense industries and following fanatically nationalistic patriotic goals.
But gullible Europe, as did the UN, did fall for the US false WMD in Iraq ruse & national building fiasco in Afghanistan.
Unlike Putin the US managed to duck ICC charges for war crimes committed at the Abu Graib prison. But then we ARE the “Exceptional” nation and Russia is not.


The US Navy has only a week’s supply of anti-ship missiles.
If a large-scale war broke out with China, within about one week the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles

I just don’t believe missile shortage is any sort of planned deterrent strategy. YMMV


The missile called, literally, specifically, the Long Range Anti-ship Missile

only began production in 2018. It’s hard to tell if the writers of the article understood this.

We have large numbers of Tomahawk, Harpoon, and Naval Strike Missiles. We also have the JASSM, from which the LRASM was designed.

Taiwan has Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles. And Japan has the ASM-2 and 3 missiles. Other countries might join the party.


Given the state of reconnaissance capability, would there be any surface ships left, after the first week?



That was true for both the Russians and then the US in Afghanistan. Of course we are wealthy enough to open up other fronts but it kept us from war with Russia or China.

1 Like

Given the state of reconnaissance capability, would there be any surface ships left, after the first week?

Not anywhere within a few hundred miles of Taiwan. Not close to Taiwan, nor between Taiwan and Japan or the Philippines.

(The US would be operating from the Philippines, which is the quiet part not often spoken aloud)

Which puts the kibosh on the whole invasion thing. The Chinese navy can no longer operate anywhere in the vicinity of the supposed conflict. And possibly not commercial vessels either. I don’t think people have really gamed out all of the consequences…to China. We get less cheap cr@p, and China loses food and fuel and their businesses lose cash flow and collapse.

OMG, we better give up now…


Or…China ships it’s manufactured goods to Russia, in exchange for Russian food and fuel.

The exit of western companies from Russia has created a vacuum, which the Chinese are rushing into. Market penetration of Chinese built autos has gone from 10% to nearly 40% in one year.

1 Like

Heh, I did not claim it was an effective strategy. Just a strategy.

I seem to recall a story from the late 80s of some African country buying US jets yet had no one qualified to fly them.

Good question. I don’t know the answer. Hopefully our military will err on the side of too many rather than not enough.

When I worked at the pump seal company, a couple of the salesmen were ex-sub guys. They maintained “there are two types of ships: subs, and targets”. Tim was less optimistic about the survivability of subs, as his job was hunting them, from a helo, but he did not address the survivability of surface ships against aircraft, missiles, and subs.



*Even adjusting for inflation, this $842 billion budget — which will likely increase with congressional add-ons and additional spending for the war in Ukraine — could ultimately give the Pentagon more taxpayer money than when the U.S. had more than 100,000 troops on the ground at the height of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.

But you’d have no idea that was the case if you read Pentagon contractor funded think tanks’ commentary about the budget, which have been clamoring for even more Pentagon spending, often without disclosing that the beneficiaries of it fund their organizations.

Unsurprisingly, think tank arguments for increasing Pentagon funding have also found their way into mainstream media outlets.

So many willing to sell out. So few willing to disclose.


I happen to have a Raytheon proxy statement at hand. Who is on the Board? Ellen Powlikowski, former Commander, Air Force Material Command…James Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the end of a 37 year Navy career…Robert Work, former Deputy SecDef.


France and Germany did not fall for US false WMD claims. Of course UK did not want to break their bond with US so they helped US generate false WMD claims.


The US State Dept Intelligence Service also stated (in writing) the WMD claims were false. However, they were ignored because they did not comply with the desired US govt objective of starting a war.