Addressing the Dwindling Stockpile

The Defense Department has spent the last 15 years raiding its operational stockpiles of weapons to support operations in the Middle East, and Congress needs to allocate funds outside of the overseas contingency operations account to rebuild the stockpile, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told House appropriators on March 2. For years, the military has had to wait on a three-year budget cycle for replacements, causing a shortage in weapons, Welsh said. However, this year the Pentagon can buy weapons on a forecasted usage rate. “This ability to forecast expenditure for the next year and then put OCO money [toward buying more] … before we drop the bombs is helping stabilize that, but it’s not replacing the stockpiles,” said Welsh. The new authority is helping the Defense Department stabilize its stockpile, but not replacing it. “We’ve got to go to the companies and say, ‘You need to be able to increase your production capacity in some cases’ if we really want to refresh the stockpiles,” Welsh said. This can’t be done with temporary war funding, it has to be budgeted and planned, he said. (See also: Yes, There is a Bomb Shortage)