Since the war began, the United States has directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute. Granted, some of those funds are for humanitarian purposes, not just weaponry.
For military aid, that money represents a veritable checklist of Iraq War-era U.S. military equipment.
But when the U.S. set out to export arms to Ukraine, it encountered something of a logistical snag. It couldn’t just fly a C-5 Galaxy cargo jet into Kyiv and deploy a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle onto the tarmac.
Similarly, driving military vehicles across the Ukraine border from a NATO ally would make the U.S. servicemembers behind the wheel a legitimate target for Russia.
If U.S. servicemembers are killed by Russian forces, while performing their official government duties, it’s game over. NATO will officially be in a shooting war with the world’s largest nuclear power.
So how does the United States get weapons and equipment directly into the hands of Ukrainian fighters?
The journey begins in a cavernous yet nondescript warehouse at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Inside, U.S. Air Force airmen tie down pallets with nylon straps to keep the cargo secure for the nearly 10-hour flight to Poland.
What’s inside the palletized cargo largely depends on DoD storage availability, directives from the State Department, or TRANSCOM orders, the Transportation Command of the U.S. military.
TRANSCOM identifies where items are located and then determines the best option to get them to Ukraine.
In some cases, TRANSCOM relies on civilian companies to make the deliveries. In fact, two-thirds of those flights are done by DoD commercial partners.