Industrial Base for Winning a War

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Dr. Bob, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    BACKGROUND: Most would agree that the BIGGEST reason for the North's victory over the Confederacy was the huge industrial infrastructure they enjoyed. They could tool up canon, rifles, uniforms, ammunition, transport them over rail, and supply all logistics to armies in the field.

    QUESTION AT HAND: I'm just seeing a very large problem TODAY as America "outsources" much of the industrial infrastructure that would be needed for a major world conflict. Our steel mills are rusting, our shipyards empty, even our factories for trucks/tanks/etc - so easily converted in WWII are dwindling.

    Does anyone else see the parallel in the way the US is drifting into the backwater of the industrial basis for waging a long war?
     
  2. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Absolutely. It's a big problem. But, the end of the quarter is coming, and the shareholders want big numbers, so let's sell the factory.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I am not huge on the parallels, but we are much like Rome in the 2nd-3rd centuries. They diluted and diffused their resources so much at home that they collapsed from the inside. The Germanic tribes just walked in an unguarded door.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    And instead of names like Attila or Alaric, They now go by Muhammed or Ishmael.
     
  5. Daisy

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    Muhammed and Ishmael do not come from the most industrially or technologically advanced nations.

    The names could be Jintao, Mbeki, Manoharan or Vinayagamoorthy - we don't know yet.
     
  6. UTEOTW

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    I think the answer depends on what kind of war you expect to be fighting. In my humble opinion, you can break down the types of wars we will fight in the foreseeable into high intensity but short duration wars and low intensity but potentially long duration wars. I do not think that out current situation is a serious hinderence to our ability to wage the types of conflicts we are likely to get into.

    The situation in Iraq provides an example of both. In the intial phase, a lot of force was brought to bear. But it was a situation of bringing to the table what you've got. There was not enough time during the war to replenish what was lost to attrition. This period was very short. Now we are into a longer term, but rather low intensity conflict which is very similar to the situation in Afghanistan. How these wars turn out will be a matter decided other than by how many weapons we can turn out in a given amount of time.

    Hypothetical situations also lean towards a quick war. Suppose that tensions were to flair up over Taiwan soon and it turned into a shooting war. We would pour as much war fighting capability into the theater as quickly as possible, mainly air and naval. There would be a very intense war of attrition and one side would run out of materials and loose. There would be no time to build more ships or airplanes. There would also be little chance of American ground forces going into mainland China in large numbers.

    The war on terrorism provides an example of the types of low intensity conflicts we could expect to get into.

    Of course there are holes in my ideas. Historically, we remember that my thoughts are exactly those of the Europeans at the outbreak of WWI. They had no way to see how any of the European nations would fight anything but a quick war. Even as they marched to war the soldiers all believed they would be home again in a matter of months. I also see that we would be in serious trouble if asked to fight a series of short, high intensity conflicts. We would very quickly run out of supplies. But I think this is a complex issue where the types of materials we would need might not could be built quickly whatever our industrial base because of the complexity. I just don't think you can stamp out F22's or cruise missiles.
     
  7. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Suppose we are attacked by Communist China?
     
  8. Melanie

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    Oh My gosh dont go there P Jim, it scares me whoopless!
     
  9. Hardsheller

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    6000 nuclear warheads, many of them in silos sitting on ICBM's and many of them in submarines serve as a deterrent to any such attack.

    An Industrial Base in the Nuclear age is a moot point when you talk about High-Intensity War.

    Now the question remains. Does the leadership of the U.S. have the Will to Use them?

    I also think that most of you have underestimated the present capability of the North American Industrial Complex and overstated the problem of "outsourcing". We aren't as bad off as John Kerry says we are.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Let's assume that a war started and we needed to build tanks and ships en masse. Does anyone think we have steel production, et al to do such?
     
  11. Hardsheller

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    In the week ending April 17, 2004, domestic raw steel production was 1,998,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 89.7 percent. Production was 1,980,000 tons in the week ending April 17, 2003, while the capability utilization then was 85.5 percent. That's almost 104,000,000 tons per year. The number for steel production during WWII was 90,000,000 tons per year.
     
  12. UTEOTW

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    Bob

    I do not have a reference handy, but I do remember reading that the amount of steel that would be needed in such a situation is only a tiny fraction of even today's meager steel capacity. I think the bottleneck would be in the capacity to turn the raw materials into the finished products.

    What kind of situations do you envision that could make this necessary? The only one I can come up with is a series of regional wars either in quick succession or at the same time. For several regional conflicts at the same time, I do not think we could deploy enough troops to fight no matter what the industrial base behind us. Even in successive regional wars, I think it would be the bombs and missiles themselves that we would run out of not tanks, ships and planes. Look to Kosovo for an example where we lost one plane (I think) but we essentially ran out of air launched cruise missiles and a few other weapons systems.

    But what do I know? Like I said, I am giving a very similal opinion to those right before WWI and then it could not have been more incorrect.
     
  13. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Electronics plays a huge part in modern military capability. Our electronic industry, even in defense, is highly dependent on foreign components.
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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    I'm thinking that the report of our cruise missiles (I think they were the ones) were down to the last few and the companies that made many of the parts had gone belly up!

    We can't replace them NOW as they are used up. This is deplorable.

    Open for correction if I have this mixed up.
     
  15. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Dr. Bob, I don't know of the specific case you are thinking of, but from what I have seen of companies closing, it seems to me that it would not be possible that we have the ability stateside to build all that is needed. So, I'm nearly certain that your point applies to numerous if not most militarily necessary products and equipment. Electronics for sure.
     

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