A Supply Chain War Story

The Daily Signal has a post up about What the Pandemic Can Teach Us About Vulnerabilities in Our Defense Supply Chain. Everyone understands the need to get ammunition and food up to the front lines, but many people are surprised about how critical batteries are.

Numerous forms of military equipment are battery-powered, including night vision goggles, radios, and weapon optics. Complex platforms, from fifth-generation stealth fighters to submarines, all use batteries.

Batteries will play an even bigger role in the future of military technology. The Army is considering adding electric vehicles into its fleet in order to reduce its dependency on fuel. The Marine Corps is testing miniature drones that can be launched from the underbelly of a rifle. The Air Force is looking to field a body-armor cooling system in order to combat extreme heat.

Batteries have been a critical supply item for decades.

Here’s my war story. Well, it’s really a war game story.

Back in the ’70s, I participated in a war game exercise. The scenario was a Second Korean War, and I was tasked with keeping the internal communications systems operating for a deployed airborne division and between the division and its higher headquarters. Keeping the forward units supplied with batteries required the Air Force to provide airlift from the west coast equivalent to a C-130 flight every day. We were able to reduce that load on the Air Force by “buying” commercial batteries on the civilian market in Japan for use in equipment that used standard batteries.

That “worked” because we had an ally with major industrial capacity next to the combat zone. That may not always be the case. BTW, the major producer of batteries these days is … you guessed it … China.