Lt. Gen. Brooks L. Bash, Director for Logistics at the Joint Staff, centered his presentation on the constraints that logistics has and will always impose on warfighting. From that perspective, for the US to pivot to the Pacific only makes things harder with the huge distances involved. New threats to the US supply routes, which by and large have not been challenged since WWII, come in varied shapes from missile profileration to swarms of small ships. From a broader macro perspective, logistical chokepoints such as the straits of Hormuz or Malacca could severely damage the economy if they become hotspots.
The US DSCA managed [PDF] $28.3 billion in Foreign Military Sales cases in FY 2011, and another $6.5 billion were made through Direct Commercial Sales, etc. Top 10 buyers were Afghanistan ($5.4 billion), Taiwan ($4.9 billion), India ($4.5 billion), Australia ($3.9 billion), Saudi Arabia ($3.5 billion), Iraq ($2.0 billion), the United Arab Emirates ($1.5 billion), Israel ($1.4 billion), Japan ($0.5 billion), and Sweden ($0.5 billion). Afghanistan is basically US donations, so it shouldn’t really count, but it’s an eye-opening figure.
Another interesting turn of events in Afghanistan: the country has vast mineral resources (including copper and gold) that the US DOD and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have helped map. The Afghan Mining minister has just opened a tender process to tap these deposits.
Most people never see services like wastewater management and water distribution, maintenance of the electric grid, etc. The cost is built into their taxes and utility bills, or into initial subdivision fees. Military bases have to deal with these sorts of issues, just as homeowners and developer do – but on a much larger scale. The preference in the US military seems to be shifting toward very long term (about 50 year) term fixed-price or regulated tariff contracts, often coupled with partial privatization or conveyance of assets, in order to make the contractor 100% responsible for the utility.
This Spotlight article covers billions of dollars in contracts that fall under this format, from 2007 to the present.
In December 2010, the Dutch Ministerie van Defensie signed a 10-year, EUR 200 million (about $270 million) framework agreement with Rheinmetall Defence that lets the Netherlands order a wide range of different ammunition and pyrotechnic types, from bullets and propellant charges to grenades. The first order was actually placed at the end of 2010, and involved modular propellant charges for the army’s PzH 2000NL self-propelled 155mm howitzers.
This contract replaces several existing agreements. The Dutch Army already relies on Rheinmetall for nearly all its ammunition needs, including practice and service ammunition in multiple calibers. Assured access to supllies at short notice is therefore part of the agreement. So, too, is external storage and management. The end result moves toward more of a “just in time” ammunition supply model. As a bonus, the Dutch MvD no longer has to pay value-added tax on purchases within this contract.
Dutch and German cooperation between their defense procurement groups forms a related facet of this partnership. The Dutch DMO and German BWB will undertake joint development, testing, purchasing and storage for 6 ammunition types: 44 mm and 76 mm grenades, 120 mm tank shells, 155 mm PzH-2000 howitzer ammunition, and Panzerfaust rockets. They will also share test data, and make use of each other’s testing facilities and equipment. As an initial example, a Dutch PzH-2000NL that is already in South Africa for long range and precision ammunition tests, which cannot be performed at any range in Europe, will be used by the Germans for their own tests. All results from both countries’ tests will then be shared. MvD [in Dutch | English] | Rheinmetall Defence.
The United Kingdom has sustained extensive efforts to strike long-term, through-life support contracts for various weapons systems under a “contracting for availability” (rather than for maintenance hours) framework. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) keeps driving the point home with new contracts that encompass more and more of their military.
The Royal Air Force currently flies 28 AW101 Merlin HC3 medium helicopters that work with the army, whilst the Royal Navy’s 42 soon-to-be upgraded AW101 Merlin Mk1s are used for both Anti-Submarine warfare and Anti-Surface warfare. This single 25-year contract covers both helicopter types…
The US military has a vast store of supplies and equipment around the world. Keeping track of all that stuff has always been a challenge. In World War II, the US Army kept track using IBM punch cards and electric accounting machines (EAMs).
Well today, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags have replaced punch cards and RFID readers and computers have replaced the EAMs. The RFID tags work like “wireless bar codes” that record, track, and manage the supplies and equipment of a modern networked military.
Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have focused attention on the performance of the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) supply chain management in support of deployed US troops. The availability of spare parts and other critical supply items affects the readiness and operational capabilities of the forces, and the supply chain can be a critical link in determining outcomes on the battlefield.
So, not only does RFID technology help keep track of supplies and equipment, it also helps get critical supplies to the battlefield at the right time and place and to secure supplies en route.
TV taught us what a “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” was, but a “Mobile Parts Hospital”? Like a MASH unit that can go wherever it is needed, the MPH is designed as a front line resource for patching things up – but it is for machines, not men. Since their initial deployment in 2003, the MPHs have fabricated more than 100,000 replacement parts, replacement components, and special tools.
As Maj. Andris Ikstrums, 1st Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade support operations officer, puts it: