Small Wars Journal

Saving Taxpayer Money and Bolstering Ukraine's Defense: The Case for Transferring HIMARS Rockets

Sun, 08/13/2023 - 8:10pm

Saving Taxpayer Money and Bolstering Ukraine's Defense: The Case for Transferring HIMARS Rockets


By Dan Rice


In the face of mounting global challenges, Congress stands at a crossroads with the M26 HIMARS Cluster Rockets. The question is simple: Why destroy these potent weapons when they can be transferred to Ukraine at no cost to the American taxpayer?

The financial argument is clear. Destroying these rockets incurs significant expenses. Transferring them to Ukraine, on the other hand, not only saves these costs but also bolsters an ally's defense capabilities. It's a win-win.

Many in Congress, from both sides of the aisle, have voiced concerns about the financial implications of supporting Ukraine. The common refrain is, "We support Ukraine, but not with a blank check." Yet, these same voices seem unaware that providing Ukraine with these lethal rockets wouldn't cost the U.S. a dime.

A year ago, I had the privilege of briefing the Ukraine General Staff on the capabilities of cluster munitions for artillery shells and HIMARS rockets. The very next day, General Zaluzhnyi, recognizing their potential, requested them from General Milley. This isn't just a footnote in history; it's a testament to the recognized value of these munitions.

The evidence is overwhelming. When Turkey began supplying Ukraine with DPICM munitions in November 2022, the impact on the battlefield was immediate and profound. Russian casualties surged from approximately 5,000 per month to over 20,000. Ukraine has since compiled a report on DPICM's effectiveness, though it remains confidential.

Yet, amidst these clear indicators, the Department of Defense recently acknowledged a $6 billion accounting error concerning weapons provided to Ukraine. This isn't just a bookkeeping oversight; it's a critical distinction that could reshape the trajectory of the war. Old U.S. weapons might seem obsolete to some, but for the Ukrainian military battling Russian forces, they are invaluable. This includes weapons like TOW missiles, M113 personnel carriers, HAWK missiles, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and especially the cluster munitions for artillery howitzers and rocket launchers.

It's essential to cut through the noise. Disinformation campaigns, particularly from Russia and China, are muddying the waters. Landmines, cluster bombs, and cluster munitions are distinct entities. Debating "dud" rates between cluster munitions and traditional artillery is a distraction from the larger issue.

The bottom line is this: Transferring the HIMARS rockets to Ukraine is not only a sound financial decision, saving taxpayer money, but it's also a strategic move that can tip the scales in the ongoing conflict. Congress must recognize this and act swiftly. The stakes are too high, and the benefits too clear, to let these rockets go to waste.

About the Author(s)

Dan is the President American University Kyiv and Co-President Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He served his commitment as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for 13 months.  He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and cited for ‘courage on the field of battle” by his Brigade Commander. 


Dan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine. In 2013, he published and co-authored his first book, West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, which features 200 of West Point graduates who have helped shape our nation, including the authorized biographies of over 100 living graduates.. The book received 3 literary awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association plus an award from the Military Society Writers of America (MSWA). Dan has appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.


Ed.D., ABD, Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (graduation expected 2023)

MS.Ed., Leadership & Learning, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 2020

M.S., Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018

M.B.A., Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000

B.S., National Security, United States Military Academy, 1988

Full bio here: