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Fact Check: Trump exaggerates ammunition shortage

In the last few weeks, Trump has told a new "sir" story.

"When we took over our military, we did not have any ammunition," Trump said Monday. "I was told by a top general – perhaps all top brass -: Sir, I'm sorry, sir, we have no ammunition." I said, "I'll never let another president give it to him or we've got that. "We had no ammunition."

As you may have guessed from the two "lords" or the substance of history, Trump's claim is a serious exaggeration.

Although we're not sure what kind of general Trump could have privately told – and although we could not reach former Defense Secretary James Mattis, whom Trump called General in a September version of the story, it's obviously not true that the world's most powerful military simply did not do it. t have ammunition "when it was inaugurated in January 201
Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN security analyst who served as Commanding General of the United States Army Europe prior to his retirement in 2012, cited Trump's report on the alleged Statements of the General "ridiculous."

"No general or admiral would say so. "Hertling said in an e-mail." They could say they had concerns, or if they were asked to attack a country (for example, North Korea), a major limitation would be that they did not have the right amount of ammunition to hit all targets (say, say, every 10,000 artillery pieces hidden in caves in North Korea, or all potential missile locations), but then they would meet their requirements. "

However, as Hertling noted, there are some real facts that underlie the dubious story.

What the military has said about the ammunition stand

According to military leaders, there were late in Obama's presidency and at the beginning of the presidency, a shortage of certain types of ammunition, particularly precision-guided bombs Trump presidency – after the US had used tens of thousands of these ammunition in the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria.

The Secretary of Defense of the Obama administration Ash Carter said in February 2016: "Recently, we met ISIL with so many GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided missiles that we start neglecting the bombs we use against terrorists. So we invest 1.8 billion US dollars in (fiscal year 2017) to buy more than 45,000 of them. "
Adm. Commander of the Pacific Naval Command, Harry Harris, told Congress in April 2017:" Critical ammunition bottlenecks are my biggest concern in warfare … we have not had enough & # 39; here and now & # 39; Base ammunition like small-diameter bombs. "
And in a December 2018 speech in which Mattis denounced Trump's military progress, he said there had been" lack of ammunition "two years earlier.

Critic of US military intervention while abroad, one of the ways in which the US could address a bombing shortage is to conduct fewer bomb attacks, yet Trump did not invent anything: the military leaders have made it clear that they believe the US is lower on certain ammunition as it should be, although none of them publicly said something like "We have no ammunition".

How bad was it?

It was never clear how bad or unusual the perceived lack was was because the military did not publish comprehensive data on munitions stands Michael O & # 39; Hanlon, a senior staff member of the Brookings Institution, who specializing in defense strategies, said "no allegations such as Trump's should be made at face value," but we do not have the information to fully assess his allegations.

The military generally has a certain shortage of ammunition at all times, which relates to formal goals and preferred levels – mostly, "O & # 39; Hanlon said in an email.

Todd Harrison, director of Defense Budget According to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, some ammunition supplies, such as Hellfire missiles and Joint Direct Attack ammunition, have "thinned out" (and received) more money due to heavy use in the ISIS conflict and Afghanistan to replenish its stocks, and the manufacturers of these weapons have ramped up production to meet these new orders. "

" So while it was a problem, it never became an operational problem, as far as I can tell. " Harriso said in an e-mail.

Harrison's assessment is supported by an article from 2017 in which Air Force Colonel Randall Ackerman, a Joint Staff spokesman, told US News & World Report: "We are currently able to address bottlenecks within the combatant to mitigate orders by managing the redistribution of ammunition according to requirements and needs. "A spokesman for the campaign against ISIS also said at the time that the mission was" unaffected by lack of ammunition. "
Lt. General Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Logistics Army, told Congress in March 2017 that while "I think today we have enough ammunition for our normal needs," he would be "very worried if" we "" Defense News reported that we had seen a surge in emergency operations and threats that continued to rise around the world. "

Hertling said there was" ALWAYS worried "not having enough ammunition to fight multiple wars at the same time This is not a problem that will be eliminated.

"The truth is that there is not enough to get around, and if the priorities are postponed it would be a logistical challenge, the right type and the right amount To bring ammunition (and other logistics / equipment) into the commander who was in a fight, "he said.

Ryan Browne of CNN contributed to the this report.

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