This is according to a new report by the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The report pins a large part of the blame squarely on American military aid shipments to Ukraine. (Related: US military stockpiles at "dangerously low levels" not seen in decades due to military aid shipments to Ukraine.)
The United States has already sent over $27 billion in military equipment and supplies to Ukraine. This includes everything from small arms and ammunition to artillery and armored vehicles. The protracted nature of this conflict has exposed one of the main strategic perils facing America's military – the country's weapons and ammunition inventories are falling to such low levels that defense companies are not equipped to replenish them rapidly.
"As the war in Ukraine illustrates, a war between major powers is likely to be a protracted, industrial-style conflict that needs a robust defense industry able to produce enough munitions and other weapons systems for a protracted war if deterrence fails," wrote Seth Jones, senior vice president and director of the CSIS's international security program.
"Given the lead time for industrial production, it would likely be too late for the defense industry to ramp up production if a war were to occur without major changes," added Jones. "The bottom line is the defense industrial base, in my judgment, is not prepared for the security environment that now exists."
Jones further noted that the American defense industry is now operating in a manner "better suited to a peacetime environment."
The CSIS ran a war games simulation, which found that the U.S. would likely run out of essential munitions to defend Taiwan from attacks coming from the Taiwan Strait in less than a week.
"How do you effectively deter if you don't have sufficient stockpiles of the kinds of munitions you're going to need for a China-Taiwan Strait kind of scenario?" asked Jones.
These essential armaments include weapons that the U.S. is currently sending to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-tank weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft weapons, counter-artillery radar systems and 155-millimeter artillery shells, stocks of all of which are considered low by the CSIS study.
One of the most important munitions that can help prevent a Chinese seizure of Taiwan is long-range precision missiles, including those launched by American submarines. In a conflict over Taiwan, U.S. strategy dictates preventing Chinese naval assets from being able to land troops on the island. This requires the use of Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), which are produced by Lockheed Martin.
The defense company will take at least two years to ramp up the production of LRASMs. If a conflict with China over Taiwan breaks out within that time, American supplies would be drained in a week.
In a war against a major power like China, the U.S. would also need to rely heavily on Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, which are air-launched cruise missiles. Current inventories of these missiles would be emptied in just over a week if the U.S. expended hundreds of them each day.
Several other essential munitions that the U.S. does not have enough of include Tomahawk missiles, Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles and ship-based munitions like the Standard Missile 6. The CSIS report noted that it would take more than 20 months to produce these munitions, calling into question America's ability to remain stocked during a war.
"The history of industrial mobilization suggests that it will take years for the defense industrial base to produce and deliver sufficient quantities of critical weapons systems and munitions and recapitalize stocks that have been used up," noted the study.
Learn more about the challenges to America's national security situation at NationalSecurity.news.
Watch this episode of the "Health Ranger Report" as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, talks to analyst Bob Griswold about the possibility of global war with China over Taiwan.