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Friday, December 8th, 2023

GOP national security leaders call for US to send long-range missile systems to Ukraine

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Republican national security leaders in Congress are urging President Joe Biden to send long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine.

These would be in addition to the full inventory of the shorter range anti-personnel variants of the same munition, according to a Nov. 1 letter sent to the president from U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS), U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL), and U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID).

“We welcome reports that your administration has finally provided some limited range ATACMS to Ukraine. Although this transfer is a positive step, the job on ATACMS is only half-done,” wrote the lawmakers. “The United States has only provided a small number of the Anti-Personnel/Anti-Materiel (APAM) variant of ATACMS and these have a shorter range. We urge you to provide the unitary warhead variant of ATACMS, which has a substantially longer range than the APAMS.”

In addition, they called on Biden to deliver the balance of U.S. APAMs given the U.S. Department of Defense’s “repeated inability to articulate a clear, current requirement for this weapon.”

The letter also noted that ATACMS missiles featuring a unitary warhead have a capability to strike deeper at Russian targets in Crimea, including Black Sea fleet assets.

The full provisioning of these capabilities, the legislators wrote, would help alter the balance in Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

The lawmakers also requested an immediate update on domestic ATACMS inventory and the U.S. military’s requirements. 

“The bottom line is this: Ukraine has requested long-range ATACMS,” according to their letter. “The United States has an arsenal of long-range unitary warhead ATACMS, a hot production line to backfill them, and affordable and executable paths to speed up delivery of the Precision Strike Missile follow-on capability. 

“Clearly, it is time for you to finish the job on ATACMS,” they wrote. “The costs of failing to do so not only risks stalemate on the battlefield and the further protraction of this war, but also threatens further global instability as our adversaries conduct influence operations around the globe.”