December 10, 2015:
The American military is trying to increase the ability of U.S. industry to increase production of smart bombs and missiles. This demand was unexpected. After orders for these weapons were cut way back after 2008 (as U.S. forces were leaving Iraq and Afghanistan) the current increase in their use, by American forces and allied forces who use the same smart weapons, has revealed unexpected problems with procurement and manufacturing routines. The basic problem is that with the widespread introduction of smart weapons in the 1990s production capacity was greatly reduced. That’s because with smart bombs the military needs a fraction of the bombs required before. Something like about a hundred times fewer weapons. That means smaller stockpiles are maintained. Worse, these more complex smart weapons are much more expensive and take longer to build. Current procedures for acquiring such complex and expensive munitions also take much longer. While you can order and receive new supplies of unguided bombs (or any other traditional munitions) in months for the smart munitions it takes about ten times as long. The military is trying to get Congress to streamline the process to get and spend money for more smart munitions and allocate money to help manufacturers build the capability to quickly build additional smart munitions. Meanwhile shortages are becoming a problem and war reserves (stockpiles for major emergencies) are being depleted.