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Ritter on Callous Hypocrisy of U.S.’s Cluster Munitions in Ukraine

July 9, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Scott Ritter argues in a hard hitting op-ed yesterday in Sputnik that the Biden Administration’s arguments for sending cluster munitions to Ukraine are fraudulent. He starts with the claim, made by both Jake Sullivan and Colin Kahl at the Pentagon that the M864 DPICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition) that the U.S. plans to send to Ukraine, will only consist of rounds with a certified dud rate of under 2%. Ritter exposes it as a calculated lie, as the testing was done under laboratory conditions that don’t exist in Ukraine. When employed in real-life situations, the “dud” rate of the sub-munitions will be much higher—often up to 20%, Ritter says.

“Rough terrain, mud, soft soil, trees, and bushes all conspire to prevent the sub-munitions from detonating, Moreover, given that the lifespan of a 155mm artillery shell is 20 years, and that production of the M864 round, which began in 1987, terminated in 1996, the vast majority of the M864 artillery shells being provided to Ukraine have reached or exceeded their expiration date, which means that there is an increased probability that many of these shells will not perform as designed.”

And the U.S. government knows it, he asserts: “The fact is that the M864 DPICM round being delivered to Ukraine is neither as reliable or safe as the Biden administration contends.”

Ritter also argues that the lethality of the DPICM rounds will also turn out to be much lower than claimed. The U.S. army calculates—again under ideal conditions—that a DPICM round is 5-15 times more lethal than a regular artillery shell, but under real conditions it degrades significantly. “In short, the M864 is not a ‘game changer,’ ” Ritter says. “The Ukrainian forces will achieve limited tactical advantage through its employment, and in many cases, see their probability of kill factors drop.”

But the claims made for the DPICM are not the real reasons the administration decided to send it to Ukraine. “The U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with the M864 DPICM round is driven by one thing and one thing only—the fact that Ukraine is running out of 155mm artillery shells, and the U.S. has nothing left to give Ukraine except the M864,” Ritter writes.

“As things stand, Ukraine will exhaust its supply of 155mm artillery shells prior to any of the objectives set for the counteroffensive having been met. The Biden administration has decided to provide the M864 DPICM round as an emergency stop-gap measure designed to allow Ukraine to sustain its planned rate of fire until which time U.S. and European production of 155mm artillery can be expanded to meet Ukraine’s operational needs, something that isn’t anticipated to occur until mid-2024 at the earliest.”

Further, the M864 won’t change the reality that Ukraine does not have the capability to successfully defeat Russian forces on the battlefield. “The decision by the Biden administration to supply Ukraine with the M864 round is simply a callous continuation of a policy designed to prolong a conflict Ukraine cannot win, and which causes Ukraine to lose hundreds of men killed every day,” Ritter concludes. “It does nothing to alter the current trajectory of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which as things currently stand points to a decisive Russian victory, an outcome the Biden administration is loath to accept.”

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