Saturday, July 12, 2008

Supply Chain Mismanagement

The Armchair Generalist makes some interesting points about the predictably failed supply chain for the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles that is resulting in 20% of these behemoths awaiting repair parts, and hence no longer available to the troops who theoretically need them.

This should come as little surprise, given that in the rush to meet the public demand for MRAPs (commanders in Iraq had demanded them much earlier) the military procurement system contracted with 4 separate vendors to create the machines - and predictably, each vendor used its own unique specifications, meaning that not all MRAPs - or their repair parts - are created equal. Many items will be specific, non-interchangeable; and this will result in a huge future cost to maintain and operate these vehicles.

With that said, 80% readiness is, in fact, about par for the course in the military - in fact, our Marine and Navy aircraft (some of our highest priority weapons systems) are never funded to be more than 80% operational. To put it in simple terms, supposing a squadron has 10 aircraft, and the military-industrial complex is capable of producing all the repair parts needed, the defense budget simply does not allow for the purchase of more than 80% of the requirements; hence, 2 planes are always down.

An anonymous wise man once wrote:

"Logisticians are a sad, embittered race of men, very much in demand in time of war, who sink resentfully into obscurity in peace. They deal only in facts but must work for men who merchant in theory.

Generals are a happily blessed race who radiate confidence and power. In peace they stride confidently and can invade a country simply by sweeping their hands grandly over a map...

In war, they must stride more slowly because each General has a Logistician riding on his back, and he knows that, at any moment, the Logistician may learn forward and whisper, 'No, you can't do that.'

Generals fear Logisticians in war; in peace, Generals try to forget Logisticians."

This is a case where a nation at peace, playing at war, has allowed its Generals to play at being Logisticians, and its Logisticians have failed to say "No." Will this cost billions of dollars in the long run as we attempt to maintain and operate a hodge-podge fleet of specialized vehicles that are ill-suited for conventional combat operations? Indubitably. Does anyone really care? Probably not.

No comments:

"; urchinTracker();