Biden's promise to send tanks has been delayed due to a lack of inventory
According to reports, despite President Biden's promise to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, the artillery could take months to arrive.
According to the New York Post, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the US does not have enough M1 Abrams tanks in stock to send to Ukraine at this time.
"We just don’t have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks, which is why it is going to take months to transfer these M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine," Singh said according to Fox News.
If the tanks were in the Pentagon's possession, they could be boxed and shipped in less than a week.
However, if the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, program is used, it may take months or years because the government must go through procurement to identify and hire contractors to build the weapons.
On Wednesday, Biden announced the weapons approval, just hours after German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz said Ukraine would also receive Leopard 2 tanks from Berlin as Russia prepares a major offensive.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Defense Secretary Antony Blinkin joined President Antony Blinkin in describing the tanks as the "most capable tanks in the world," which will improve Ukraine's battlefield capability.
"This is about freedom, freedom for Ukraine, freedom everywhere," Biden said.
After weeks of stalled and frustrated negotiations with Germany, which senior defense officials described as the "product of good diplomatic conversations," the decision to send tanks was made.
Earlier this month, Germany stated that it would not agree to send tanks to Ukraine unless the US did so as well, citing concerns about an escalation of the conflict.
Senior Officials Declined to Comment
While senior defense officials would not confirm whether the decision was a Berlin stipulation or Washington's motivation to get Germany to deploy the Leopard tanks, the move was hailed as a show of long-term support for Ukraine.
The United States has already supplied thousands of combat vehicles, including 1,700 Humvees, and has pledged to send another 500 armored vehicles of various types earlier this month.
The Abrams tanks will be obtained through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative rather than from US stockpiles. It is unclear how long it will take to get the Abrams tanks operational in Ukraine, and defense officials have not specified where the trainings will take place, though it has been confirmed that they will take place outside of Ukraine.
Americans have been divided on the amount of support that should be given to Ukraine.