Weapons Production and Contemporary Conflict
Historically, sustaining war required training personnel and manufacturing military equipment. Contemporary conflicts are no different. The destruction of thousands of pieces of equipment in the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the Israel-Hamas War of 2023 punctuates their role in modern conflict. The prolific rate of military means used in these conflicts elevates a critical, but largely forgotten feature of war: weapons production rate affects battlefield outcomes.
The rate of production of weapons affects military strategy and operational effectiveness. Arms do not deliver victory only through technological advantage but also through availability. Currently, attrition accompanied by low weapons production rates is affecting the value arms market from which low- and middle-income countries procure weapons that Russia supplies and Israel services.
Moreover, it is also revealing a major drawback of the United States’ second offset strategy, which emphasized high military spending to develop precision and stealth to counter Soviet advantages in conventional forces during the Cold War. The second offset strategy delivered overmatch capabilities but also created a military largely dependent on high-cost, numerically limited platforms. Production of munitions also declined, imperiling military operations.