Pentagon Officials to Answer Questions on Ukraine Aid

Pentagon Officials to Answer Questions on Ukraine Aid Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley walking side by side U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Army Gen. Mark Milley, right, arrive for a closed door briefing with members of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 3. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 05 April 2022 09:05 AM

Top Pentagon officials, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Army Gen. Mark Milley, are slated to appear before the House Armed Services Committee today to answer questions about President Joe Biden's $773 billion defense budget request, and why military aid is not getting to Ukraine faster.

Reporters asked a senior defense official Monday about the speed that a new $300 million Ukrainian military aid package could be delivered as that nation fights to hold off invading Russian troops.

"Everything we're doing with respect to Ukraine is being expedited," the official answered. "Everything."

The package, announced April 1, includes money that the United States can give directly to contractors to make available equipment, including laser guided rocket systems, "Switchblade," and various types of unmanned drones, armored vehicles, non-standard ammunition, night vision goggles and other devices, machine guns, medical supplies, and satellite imagery services, according to the Pentagon.

"And this, of course, underscores our unwavering commitment to Ukraine sovereignty, and their territorial integrity and support their efforts to repel the Russian forces inside their country. There's a quite extensive detailed list of what some of these capabilities are, including unmanned aerial systems and some tactical secure communications, and other like capabilities," DOD Press Secretary John Kirby said Monday.

"We've now committed more than $2.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine just since the beginning of this administration, including more than $1.6 billion since Russia's invasion. Unlike Presidential Drawdown, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from our own stocks. That's the difference here. So, this announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process that will provide these new capabilities."

The new aid package is in addition to the direct shipment of $800 million in military equipment to Ukraine as part of $800 million in security assistance in March.

That package included 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 Javelins, 1,000 light-armor weapons, 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems, 100 tactical drones, 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, 25,000 helmets and sets of body armor, and more than 20 million rounds of different ammunition, grenade launcher and mortar rounds, according to the White House.

"I would hasten to add that we are going to expedite that contracting process as fast as we can. I don't have exact delivery dates for you, or procurement dates today," Kirby said Monday. "But rest assured we're going to be moving as fast as we can. The U.S. also continues to work with its allies and partners to identify and provide to the Ukrainians additional capabilities. And we'll certainly utilize all available tools to support Ukraine's armed forces as they fight bravely for the defense of their country."

Original Article