Another outcome that must be avoided is a hollow industrial base, particularly the ammunition base. The nation's munitions industrial base requires careful attention now to ensure its ability to meet the needs of the services in the future.
Concern over the health of the munitions industry is not new. As early as 2007, munitions professionals in government and industry concluded that reductions in defense spending were inevitable and that steps had to be taken to soften their impact. Several efforts since then have produced positive, but not decisive, results and have identified areas requiring further work.
Decision makers in the
Preparation of a "strategic master plan" was begun under the auspices of the
The industrial base assessment tool and the minimum sustaining rate database are now used to analyze proposed ammunition procurement budgets. Through an iterative a process, potential negative impacts on the 3 munitions industrial base are identified a beforehand. The services are thus afforded 3 the opportunity to mitigate those impacts by adjusting budgets.
While the industry must be configured and maintained to produce munitions required for war reserve and training stocks, difficulties arise in determining those requirements. The computer-based process is scenario-dependent, and includes many assumptions. It produces specific quantities of specific munitions, but these can, and do, vary widely with changes in scenarios or the assumptions that are fed into the computer models. At root, then, munitions requirements figures are best guesses.
The industry must be agile and flexible to meet unexpected changes. Past history provides many examples of overdependence on rigid requirements and little regard for flexibility.
Also during the Vietnam War, there were occasions when
At the end of the first Iraq War, which lasted only six days, the
During the second Iraq War, industry received requests for urgent production of 30 mm ammunition that could not be honored. Previously, requirements had been set so low that production lines had been closed and their reconstitution would have taken 15 months.
U.S. involvement in
War reserve estimates have been wrong in the past. While a future industrial base must be capable of providing war reserves, it must also retain sufficient flexibility to compensate rapidly when errors become evident. Absent that flexibility, the ability to adequately support war fighters is at risk.
A number of actions can assist the munitions professionals in ensuring there is a capable and efficient industry for future needs.
Change is needed in the requirements process. Demands will evolve, drastically in some cases, to reflect planned changes in national strategy and reductions in force structure. Given these profound changes, the assumptions used in generating requirements via computer models should be critically questioned, and appropriate adjustments made where warranted. Planning will likely envision production lines being shut down and then called upon to resume operation. Assumptions about the ability of a closed line to resume production, as well as the time and cost of doing so, must be carefully examined. Included should be specifics concerning the availability of trained workers.
The budget process must be reviewed. The
Nevertheless, inclusion of non-SMCA items in the munitions database is optional. At this time, the
Tactical missiles are not classified as ammunition, and are budgeted in separate accounts not subject to SMCA authority. On the other hand, they require components that are produced by the munitions industry, and are dependent on the sector's continued viability. As with non-SMCA items, inclusion of tactical missiles in the munitions database would be a positive step, and should be considered by the office of the secretary of defense.
From the outset, the SMCA's assessment capabilities were planned to be used routinely in the annual budget formulation process. Instead, the decision was taken to revise the Joint Conventional Ammunition Policy and Procedure to require such usage, on the grounds that adoption would be faster and easier. Publication of the revision has now been in process in this joint arena for more than two years. Speedy completion would be a positive step.
The industry must leverage technology. Adequate support of relevant technologies provides a significant multiplier effect, reducing the cost of munitions. It also fosters retention of highly trained engineers and scientists in a field that requires many years to achieve full productivity.
Continued support of research-anddevelopment funding for munitions related projects will ensure that
Today, budget cuts are already being felt and some capabilities and workforces are being pared back. Impending cuts will bring more of the same. Defense officials must become, and remain, sensitive and responsive to the difficulties encountered by munitions manufacturers. They should be proactive in asking for information, looking for signs of distress and seeking opportunities that will provide assistance in cases where intervention is warranted.
Further, the reluctance of the U.S. military to permit companies to sell ammunition with new capabilities or state-of-the-art technology to even its closest allies is counterproductive. It frustrates efforts to foster interoperability with allies, leaves markets open to technologically equivalent competitors and forfeits opportunities to reduce the costs of U.S. production.
It is imperative that sustaining critical munitions production capabilities become a prime consideration in decisions concerning international sales, especially during periods of reduced U.S. funding.
Requirements calculations and budgetary plans for fiscal year 2015 and beyond must be consistent with efforts to achieve a right-sized munitions industrial base. Without an assured, capable and efficient supply of munitions, armed forces and their weapon platforms are of little use. ND
Bob SÉraphin, a former House Appropriations Committee staffer, is a consultant to the
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