Biden Administration Loose with the Facts Regarding M1 Abrams Tank Shipment to Ukraine: We know President Joe Biden is sometimes allergic to the truth.
Throughout his presidency, Biden has told falsehoods, tall tales, exaggerations, whoppers, and outright lies.
His latest false statement has to do with the 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks that are promised for Ukraine.
In late January the media was excited to report the M1 Abrams main battle tank would soon be in Ukraine to better bring the fight to Russia with the implication that the shipment would arrive in Kyiv quickly. But is that really true? It seems we have a problem.
Fact Check False on Tank to Ukraine
That promise was not entirely accurate, and fact-checked false by USA Today on February 17. It is going to take months not weeks for the tanks to be deployed.
The manufacturer of the Abrams M1A2 is General Dynamics and its sole plant in Lima, Ohio can only make 12 tanks each month. To make matters more frustrating for the Biden administration and Ukraine is that two countries – Poland and Taiwan – have placed orders too and these countries are ahead of the line.
Also, no Abrams tanks can be sent from the U.S. military’s current stocks. Ukraine might have to wait indefinitely as a result.
Wait, Are You Saying a One to Two Year Delay?
It could take as long as a year or a year-and-a-half before President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s forces receive the M1 Abrams tank shipment.
“We’re looking at what’s the fastest way we can get the tanks to the Ukrainians. It’s not going to be a matter of weeks,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told journalists February 23. “None of the options that we’re exploring are weeks or two months. There are longer timelines involved, but I think there are options that are less than two years, less than a year-and-a-half,” she said.
Get Your Facts Straight
Biden and the Department of Defense, to be fair, likely did not intentionally deceive. They may not have known the state of the industrial base and availability at General Dynamics, but they were wrong, and it is going to cost Ukraine precious time. The Department of the Army and the Pentagon must do a better job relaying accurate information to the White House.
The war could be over by the time the Abrams tanks get to the front.
Advanced M1 Abrams Tanks Can Transform the Fight
The conflict in Ukraine has reached its one year anniversary with no end in sight. The key battles in the Donbas region have been bloody actions of attrition with trenches and human wave attacks reminiscent of World War One.
The M1 Abrams could definitely help turn the tide and return the battlefield to 21st Century warfare.
U.S. National Security Council Was Optimistic About the Abrams
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken made Ukraine excited by promising the tanks that they said were the most capable in the world. And that they would “enhance” Ukraine’s ability to wage war against Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s army is likely to rev up a bigger offensive this spring and Ukraine needs the tanks now.
One good aspect of the situation is that Poland is willing to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and have them be backfilled by the Abrams.
Poland has ordered 250 of the American main battle tanks to be delivered by 2025 or 2026.
U.S. Military Has a Shortfall in Some Land Warfare Arms and Ammunition
The war in Ukraine has uncovered problems with the U.S. defense industry. Howitzer shells, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and Javelin anti-tank missiles are running low. There are long lead times for the Abrams. U.S. officials are concerned that if China would invade Taiwan and the U.S. responded militarily there would not be enough ammunition and man-portable missile systems to supply American soldiers and marines.
With this in mind, the Biden administration should trim the optimism from their public statements and make sure they are based on reality. It is important not to get Ukraine’s hopes up only to pull the rug out beneath their feet.
It is also time to take a hard and clear-eyed look at the defense industrial base and create solutions for producing war material faster. The next time that American personnel are in harm’s way, they could be at a grave disadvantage.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.