By Mr. James Veto, Dr. Paul-Thomas Ferguson, and Ms. Aimee WrenMay 31, 2019
The organic industrial base (OIB) is a national asset with critical capabilities supporting readiness for the United States' joint military forces. For more than two centuries, the industrial base has supported every major US conflict. Today, Joint Munitions Command (JMC) manages the OIB to provide readiness for current and emerging threats. In the past, a static approach to maintaining the industrial base was fine for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism readiness, but more careful planning is required to effectively face today's near-peer competitors. "While immediate warfighter needs remain the Army's top priority, JMC must focus on both near term readiness and modernization efforts in anticipation of meeting future munitions requirements," said Brig. Gen. Michelle Letcher, JMC Commander.
JMC's mission is to provide ready, reliable, and lethal munitions at the speed of war in sustainment of global readiness. The munitions industrial base, as managed by JMC, consists of 14 subordinate arsenals, depots, and ammunition plants, which have unique capabilities not always found in the private sector. These assets collectively provide the conventional ammunition life-cycle functions of production, distribution, storage, and demilitarization of munitions for U.S. military services, other government agencies, and Allied nations, as directed. In the process, JMC maintains the ability to surge, thus supplying the warfighter with munitions for every emerging need, from early deterrence efforts through the end of combat operations. "As we modernize and improve the industrial base," Letcher explained, "JMC installations and private industry partners are postured to respond to surge requirements and other contingencies," Letcher said. Logistics and sustainment efforts at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels require synchronization and proper resourcing to effectively meet Army readiness requirements in support of operations to win the nation's wars. As needs and resources change, it is critical that JMC manage the OIB effectively in the face of persistent planning challenges.
Transitions to peacetime, and the budgetary constraints accompanying them, impede the effort to sustain critical capabilities. Such challenges are cyclical -- major wars require a significant supply of munitions, then peacetime transitions involve a drawdown in operations, including reduction of investments in development, production, support systems, and personnel. Largely a legacy of World War II, the number of industrial facilities declined drastically after the Vietnam War. At today's remaining locations, workload ebbs and flows as the demand for munitions fluctuates. With declining demand following each transition to peacetime, OIB overhead and unit costs increase, leading to reductions in force. Letting skilled workers go further impedes the OIB's ability to respond rapidly to future contingencies. Budget plans must strive to balance current and future readiness. Now more than ever, it is important for JMC to maintain and modernize the OIB and its critical capabilities in order to maintain and supply the warfighter.
A key component of JMC's efforts is the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept. The MDO defines the strategic support area as the space where joint logistics and sustainment functions emanate. It is where combat power is generated and projected into the support, close, and deep areas. Joint Munitions Command (JMC) is committed to providing munitions readiness in support of Multi-Domain Operations. The increasing complexity of future conflict, involving multiple actors operating in multiple domains, land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, requires the OIB to remain responsive and flexible. To do so, JMC must continue modernizing arsenals, depots, and ammunition plants, improving the ability to produce, store, and distribute ammunition. Maintaining a deliberate approach to investments in the OIB during the wartime to peacetime transition ensures the ability of JMC to support military forces in future operations. "By maintaining an evolving approach to modernization, JMC supports the National Security Strategy and ensures munitions readiness for the needs of both today and tomorrow," Letcher said.