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DOD Official Describes How Security Assistance Gets to Ukraine

A senior Defense Department official spoke to the media about U.S.-provided security assistance to Ukraine.

The current crisis in Ukraine has demonstrated the important role that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency plays in executing U.S. foreign policy, the official said.

The agency's mission is wide-ranging, from arms transfers and institutional capacity building to international military training and education and humanitarian assistance, the official said.  

Three soldiers tend to a parked helicopter.
Maintenance Check
Soldiers assigned to 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division conduct daily preventive maintenance on an AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter at a forward arming and refueling point, Miroslawiec, Poland, April 4, 2022.
Photo By: Army Spc. Hedil Hernández, National Guard
VIRIN: 220404-Z-XV469-1011

Since the beginning of the invasion, DSCA has executed $2.3 billion in presidential drawdown of security assistance to Ukraine and $300 million under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative as of April 1, the official said.

The term presidential drawdown is used when the president authorizes military hardware to be pulled from existing U.S. military stock.

"This is a time of higher [operations tempo] and faster movement than we've really ever done in our history," the official said.

The official then described how a presidential drawdown works.

  • Working together with the Ukrainians and with U.S. European Command, a list of requirements is developed and shared with those who work on policy in the Pentagon. Coordination of stocks and deliveries is also made with allies and partners.
  • A determination is made whether the U.S. industrial base can refill those stocks over time.
  • DSCA shares the list with the military departments, to determine if they have the availability of the stocks.
  • The military departments provide information on what the readiness impacts are of drawing down that equipment from U.S. stocks.
  • The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff provides his recommendations and then a memorandum goes to the secretary of defense for his approval of the drawdown plan.
  • The package of requirements is then built.
  • At that point, the president will direct the drawdown.
  • Then, the State Department secretary signs a memo directing DOD to execute and then DSCA puts out the executive order.

Although there seem to be a lot of steps, that whole process has been known in the last several months to done in as few as 48 to 72 hours, which is unprecedented, the official said.

A map of Ukraine.
A map of Ukraine.
Photo By: DOD
VIRIN: 220419-O-D0439-001

Another form of security assistance, the official said, is the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. For this process, DOD notifies Congress how it intends to use that money and that is generally done through contracting for new procurement so the timelines can be a little longer on providing that, the official said.

Another source of funding for Ukraine security assistance comes from foreign military financing, which is under the authority of the State Department. It is used for new procurements, although it could also buy things out of DOD's own stocks, the official said, adding that this type of assistance is for longer term requirements. 

"Security cooperation has enabled a strong U.S.-European defense and security relationship and suitably prepared Ukraine to face Russia in this premeditated, unprovoked and brutal invasion," the official said.

A second senior DOD official also spoke today.

Since yesterday, two more Russian battalion tactical groups have been added to the 76 in Ukraine, bringing the total to 78, the official said.

A soldier shoots at a range while other soldiers wait their turn.
Shooting Practice
Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, shoot at clay disks at a range in Torun, Poland, April 7, 2022.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Gabriel Rivera, Army National Guard
VIRIN: 220407-Z-TS965-1225

So-called BTGs are typically composed of combined-arms elements, such as air defense, armor, tactical vehicles, artillery, helicopters, engineering and logistical support.

Mariupol is still contested. It is being heavily pounded with Russian long-range fires, the official said.

Russian forces are intent on taking Mariupol because it would provide a land bridge for Russia from the Donbas to Crimea. A second reason is that it would give the Russians flexibility to free up forces from there so they could join other BTGs northward in the Donbas, the official said.

Mykolayiv, which is further to the west, is still in Ukrainian hands, the official said.

Heavy fighting continues elsewhere in the Donbas region, the official said.

Around 1,670 Russian missiles have been fired thus far on Ukraine since the start of the invasion, the official said.

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