GOP reps push Pentagon to send cluster bombs to Ukraine

Two GOP congressmen pushed the Pentagon on Wednesday to send controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine, weeks after Kyiv reportedly requested the munitions.

The artillery shells are banned by most countries as inhumane, as the shells fragment into smaller munitions in the air causing drastically more damage than a traditional munition.

House Armed Services Chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) pushed the Biden administration to provide the munitions at a committee hearing Wednesday.

“The administration (is) not giving Ukraine the weapons it needs to win. Chief among them is cluster munitions,” Rogers said.

“The U.S. military has over 3 million cluster munitions that can be fired by 155mm Howitzers in Ukraine’s possession. We are going to spend millions of dollars destroying them if we don’t use them and Russia is using them right now against the Ukrainians.”

The Pentagon did not directly respond to questions Wednesday about sending cluster munitions to Ukraine.

“We are in regular contact with Ukraine about their battlefield needs, and we expect to have more security assistance to announce soon,” a spokesperson said in an email to The Hill.

Cluster munitions were banned by international treaty in 2010, but the U.S. did not sign on. Concerns over the munitions stem from their increased risk for civilian casualties and higher odds of “duds” leaving live munitions in the ground after a conflict ends.

The U.S. version of the weapons is the dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM), so-called “dual purpose” because the cluster shells contain both anti-personnel and anti-armor bomblets, Gen. Christopher Cavoli explained in the hearing.

“It’s very effective against mixed targets, of personnel and equipment, especially when those targets are gathered into dense formations,” said Cavoli, who is the commander for U.S. operations in Europe.

“It is happening in Bakhmut and it happens on most battlefields when one force goes into the offense. As a strictly military matter it is a useful and very effective munition,” he added.

Last month, Rogers was joined by Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) in a letter to Biden urging him to send the cluster munitions to Ukraine.

In the hearing Wednesday, Wilson also added his support.

“Those should be provided. With war criminal Putin sacrificing young Russians for his personal aggrandizement of oil money power, the human wave tactics, this could help stop that and could certainly deter their effectiveness,” he said.

“I hope every effort will be made to look into providing the cluster bombs. We have 2 million available right now, it’s inconceivable that we don’t do more,” Wilson added.
The U.S. last used cluster munitions in a Yemen missile strike in 2009, and before that in Iraq in 2003, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Updated: 3:06 p.m.

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