The United States military is dropping so many bombs on Islamic State targets that the U.S. is running out of explosive munitions, according to one top admiral.
Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told Congress last week that in order to keep up with the war campaign against the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist targets in the Middle East, he’ll need Congress to beef up his bomb stockpile.
In a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on April 26, Harris explained that “critical munitions shortfalls” are his “top war fighting concern.”
“Munitions are a large part of determining combat readiness in pursuit of national strategic objectives,” Harris said, explaining that he is even short on “here-and-now basic munitions” like small diameter bombs that can easily be deployed and dropped on enemy targets.
“We must maintain our capability to operate in contested environments,” the admiral told Congress. “Additionally, we must continue to expand cross domain fires capabilities and focus on joint integration to strengthen deterrence and enable joint combined maneuver.”
Harris said that his priority munition needs include long-range and stand-off strike weapons, anti-ship weapons, advanced air to air munitions, theater ballistic/cruise missile defense, torpedoes, naval mines and a Cluster Munitions replacement.
“These are not exciting kinds of weapons; these are mundane sort of weapons,” Harris said. “But they’re absolutely critical to what we’re trying to do, not only … against North Korea, but also in the fights in the Middle East.”
However, if Harris is to get the munitions he needs, he told Congress that he’ll need a more adequate place to store them.
“As new inventory becomes available, current storage capacity will become critical. Current legacy storage locations are inadequate to store specific types of modernized munitions and meet the requirements of FY21 Department of Defense Explosive Safety Standards,” Harris said. “To meet security and safety standards for future inventory, additional new military construction will be required.”
President Donald Trump has routinely expressed the need to “demolish and destroy” the Islamic State and continues to reaffirm his pledge to do so. Last month, he ordered the MOAB bomb, colloquially known as the “mother of all bombs,” be dropped on an Islamic State stronghold in far eastern Afghanistan, where a terrorist cell was terrorizing the local population.
U.S. commanders said at the time they were targeting a vast system of tunnels the terrorists had built and were using to evade military and drone airstrikes. The bomb left scores of Islamic State fighters dead and didn’t result in the death of any civilians.