President Joe Biden pressed Congress for more funding for Ukraine aid while touting American manufacturing capabilities during a speech in Troy, Alabama.
The college town is home to a Lockheed Martin facility that produced nearly 13,000 anti-tank Javelin missiles in 2021. Biden said more money is needed to keep up the pace and help win the war in Ukraine.
"As I said from the beginning, this fight is not going to be cheap," said Biden, with Javelin missiles visible behind him. "But caving to aggression would be even more costly."
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Javelins have proven a key defense mechanism during the war. The missiles can be carried by a single person and fired over the shoulder, knocking out tanks up to 2.5 miles away. Manufacturing is the larger problem, with each Javelin missile requiring more than 200 semiconductors to make. Semiconductors have suffered a global shortage due to the war and COVID-19-related supply chain issues. Biden pushed to have more semiconductors made in the United States.
Along with the specific Ukraine funding push, the president is calling for the passage of the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which hopes to fix supply chain problems by strengthening the domestic semiconductor chip industry and tackling a myriad of other issues. Congress is working to merge House and Senate versions of the bill.
Biden said Javelins have been so important in the war that Ukrainians are naming newborn children "Javelin" or "Javelina."
"You're allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves, and frankly they're making fools of the Russian military in many instances," said Biden.
The U.S. has been drawing down its stockpile of Javelins in the war effort.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said during a hearing with Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the U.S. has provided one-third of its stockpile of Javelins and 25% of its stockpile of anti-aircraft Stingers, but the Department of Defense is still above its minimum requirements for how many of each to keep on hand.
The Troy facility spans nearly 4,000 acres, with 52 buildings totaling nearly 1 million square feet. It employs 600 people, including 265 who work specifically on Javelins.
The president toured the facility ahead of the speech, noting it was also a major source of high-paying jobs.
"Where in God's name is it written that the U.S. can no longer be a leading manufacturer in the world?" said Biden. "We've created, just in the last 17 months, 465,000 permanent manufacturing jobs. We have the best workers, the most competent employees, the best science in the world."
The war in Ukraine does not appear to be going as Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped. Russia refocused its military operation in Ukraine to the Donbas region weeks ago, but it has had limited success, according to the Pentagon.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Monday that Russia's military in the Donbas has operated in a "very cautious, very tepid, [and] very uneven" manner, making progress that is "minimal at best."
However, Biden stressed that the U.S. and Western allies have to keep supporting Ukraine to secure a victory for the embattled nation.
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"If you don't stand up to dictators, history has shown us they keep coming, they keep coming," said Biden. "Their appetite for power continues to grow, and every worker in this facility and every American taxpayer is directly contributing to the case for freedom. That's something we can all be incredibly proud of."