In recent weeks, the US Air Force has begun sharing bombs with NATO allies in an attempt to advance multilateral participation in coalition airstrikes against Daesh. This comes at a time when the Defense Department has raised alarms that US bomb and missile stockpiles are depleted and raises the question of whether the US taxpayer is ultimately footing the bill for the entire coalition.
Lt. Gen. John Raymond, deputy chief of staff for operations at Headquarters Air Force, said that right now there is an open bomb policy – coalition jets take from US stockpiles as needed without further process.
He sought to reassure the public in statements on Thursday, arguing that it is not only the US that is lending from stockpiles to coalition strikes. "We do have relationships with our coalition partners for those supplies; they are using those weapons as well," said Raymond.
The US Air Force already flies more than half the sorties under Operation Inherent Resolve, having dropped 4,748 bombs so far in 2016 and a shocking 28,675 bombs and missiles in 2015, according to statistics from the Air Force Central Command.
The Air Force currently takes the position that they are not immediately concerned with depleting missile and bomb stockpiles in the fight against Daesh. Lt. Gen. Raymond says, "We have the supplies to do what we need to do today."
Unfortunately for US and coalition forces, tomorrow is another day, as the US Air Force has cautioned in recent months. In a December interview with the USA Today, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, "We need to replenish our munition stocks because these weapons take years to produce."
Concern also has come from within the Pentagon where officials have pointed to the Air Force’s dwindling supply of precision bombs and missiles as a major concern. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said that in order to maintain the air campaign against Daesh militants, Congress must approve an additional $1.8 billion in defense spending to purchase 45,000 smart bombs and guided munitions.
James said the Air Force is "in the business of killing terrorists and business is good." However, if US taxpayers refuse to keep picking up the bill for other coalition members, the US just may be loaning away that business.