The conflict in Ukraine has revealed what conventional war looks like in this day and age. It has also made clear just how extensively the US defense industrial base has atrophied in the post-Cold War era. We are struggling to keep pace with arming Ukraine, even when drawing from stockpiles that have not been replenished since Reagan’s buildup in the 1980s. We are failing to put in place today contracts that will produce critical munitions by 2026 and beyond, but the reality is that the entire system is so broken (from the supply chain, to research vs. procurement imbalances, to budget hurdles) that American leadership in future great power conflict is a question mark, not a given. What does this mean looking ahead? Our guest ran over a half dozen war games to simulate what a US conflict with China over Taiwan would look like; he discovered that we will run out of some of our most advanced precision weapons in less than a week. This should be a wake-up call – why are we seeing sobering lessons from Ukraine but failing to learn them?
Seth G. Jones is senior vice president, Harold Brown Chair, director of the International Security Program, and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS, Dr. Jones was the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation. He also served as representative for the commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, to the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. Before that, he was a plans officer and adviser to the commanding general, U.S. Special Operations Forces, in Afghanistan (Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command–Afghanistan).