No part of the defense industrial base is more critical to the success of the U.S. military in conflict than that which produces munitions. At its most basic level, the function of the U.S. military in conflict is to place energy on targets. Everything else that the military does is to create the conditions that will allow sufficient energy to be deposited in a timely manner on such targets, the destruction of which will lead to the defeat of any enemy. It is ammunition that makes the military an instrument of war.
As a result of Iraq and the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the defense industrial base in general, and the munitions industrial base in particular, is being challenged to meet current and future requirements. Post-Cold War downsizing, consolidation and disinvestment has left the Department of Defense (DoD) in many instances hard-pressed to meet the logistics and supply demands of the GWOT. The period from the end of the Cold War to the present saw a 68 percent reduction in the overall capacity of the munitions industrial base. Today, the United States has but a single government-owned production facility for small caliber ammunition, a plant that was opened during World War II. Despite recent increases, funding levels still are not adequate to address the full range of demands confronting the munitions industrial base, including replenishing diminished stockpiles, modernizing production capabilities, and simultaneously, preparing for a future of advanced weapons and munitions.
The munitions industrial base faces serious challenges including an aging production base, single-point sources of supply, changing foreign dependencies, inadequate investment, shrinking stockpiles and a lack of surge or rapid replenishment capacity. The most immediate requirement for this sector is to increase the production of critical munitions, particularly small caliber ammunition. But production of critical, highdemand munitions must be expanded while efforts continue to make the munitions industrial base more efficient. This means targeted investments to boost the efficiency of key production lines, support for vulnerable and scarce component manufacturers, and the elimination of unnecessary capacity and divestiture of excess physical infrastructure.
At the same time, DoD must create a mechanism that will protect and preserve the newly expanded capacity when the inevitable decline in demand for munitions occurs. One part of the solution is to ensure stable, long-term funding. Multiyear procurements of ammunition could help to address this problem. Another part is agreement on a munitions industrial base strategic plan. Such a plan is now in draft. A third part is to restore munitions industrial base planning for a surge/replenishment capacity.
For the long-term, the munitions industrial base must undergo its own transformation. DoD needs to invest in the future capacity of the munitions industrial base to produce advanced weapons that will be employed by a transformed fighting force. R&D funding must be maintained at an adequate level. Expanded public-private partnering must be encouraged and the private sector needs to be given incentives to invest in the munitions industrial base.
The initial draft of this report was written by Dr. Daniel Gouré of the Lexington Institute. All members of the Land Warfare Working Group had an opportunity to review and modify the final report.
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