Soldiers practice clearing a trench during drills at a training area in Zhytomyr region, northern Ukraine, April 23, 2024.

Soldiers practice clearing a trench during drills at a training area in Zhytomyr region, northern Ukraine, April 23, 2024. Volodymyr Tarasov / Ukrinform / Future Publishing via Getty Images

Prepositioned stocks will get new aid to Ukraine quickly, top US officer says

Aircraft are likely “already flying” material toward the beleaguered country, senior official says.

The Pentagon had already begun moving new aid toward Ukraine in anticipation of its release this morning by the U.S. president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs said Wednesday. 

“Seeing that we were getting closer and closer—particularly last week when the House passed [the supplemental package]—we were well postured with the authorities and movement of munitions to Ukraine,” Gen. C.Q. Brown told reporters at a Pentagon press conference. “We've already leaned pretty far forward on a lot of areas. We're moving out and we'll get capability to Ukraine as quickly as possible.”

Added William LaPlante, defense undersecretary for acquisition: “Literally, right now, there are planes flying probably with equipment to Ukraine. We all needed [the President] to sign the bill and we're gone, or we're writing contracts this afternoon.”

The new package, which was built with Ukrainian input and approved by Biden on Wednesday, includes:

  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems
  • Precision aerial munitions   
  • High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, rockets
  • 155mm artillery rounds, including high-explosive shells and cluster munitions
  • Vehicles, small-arms ammo, medical supplies, and more. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted, “​​Over the past few days, we have already been actively working with our American friends on all levels to include the exact types of weapons that our warriors require in this package. It totals $1 billion and includes exactly what we discussed with President Biden during our call.” 

Wednesday also brought the news that the U.S. has already been sending Ukraine small numbers of 300-km ATACMS rockets, as reported by Reuters and confirmed on Wednesday by State Department officials. The new supplemental clears the way for many more of those to go to Ukraine. 

The UK is also sending a big new tranche of weaponry. “The UK has allocated the largest defence support package for Ukraine to date, worth half a billion pounds. [The 400-km] Storm Shadow and other missiles, hundreds of armored vehicles and watercraft, ammunition—all of this is needed on the battlefield,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Tuesday. 

LaPlante said the U.S. and its allies are learning much by watching how Ukrainian forces use their donated arms and gear in battle.

“Ukraine has gotten a lot of stuff from a lot of people. It's lovingly called The Zoo…They'll use whatever you give them, and they'll be really creative with it. If it doesn't work, or it breaks and they can't fix it, they'll throw it aside.” 

That’s prompting the Pentagon and allies to look anew at their own gear. 

 At one meeting with defense officials from more than 50 countries, LaPlante said, he urged his colleagues to “know the mission-capable rates of what you're delivering to the Ukrainians. Is it 20 percent? Is it 70 percent? And what's the reason for that if it's 20 percent? Is it spare [parts]? Is that you didn't translate the manuals? And by the way, if you have to send the equipment back to a European country, to Poland or somewhere else to get repaired, that's not great. Can we repair it in-country?”

Ultimately, he said, Ukraine will need more than leftover U.S. weapons and equipment to prevail. They will need newer and more effective capabilities like more precise long-range fires, more effective electromagnetic warfare capabilities and autonomous drones. 

“To win…you need the other stuff…game-changers,” he said.