Two years ago, a mysterious explosion destroyed a gunpowder factory. In 2021, the Minden, Louisiana-based facility was obliterated after an errant spark led to a destructive explosion that completely halted production. Unfortunately the plant is still closed.
Last week the Wall Street Journal noted a potential problem for national security due to shortages,
“Fewer weapons manufacturers, shortages and ‘single source’ contractors limit the Pentagon’s ability to ramp up production—including when the sole maker of a crucial type of gunpowder stopped producing.”
The Department of Defense relied on the Minden factory to produce an array of items, including bullets, mortar shells, artillery rounds, and Tomahawk missiles.
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The company also was the only one in the country that produced a very old form of munitions called black powder which was heavily used in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Black powder has current military applications as well and cannot be substituted with another product. The journals article also noted that the nations military suppliers have declined,
“Lower-tier defense firms are often the sole maker of vital parts — such as black powder — and a single crisis can bring production to a standstill,
Military suppliers consolidated at the Cold War’s end, under pressure to reduce defense costs and streamline the nation’s industrial base. Over the past three decades, the number of fixed wing aircraft suppliers in the U.S. has declined from eight to three. During the same period, major surface ship producers fell from eight to two, and today, only three American companies supply over 90% of the Pentagon’s missile stockpile.”
The overriding concern is the issue America could have in terms of military readiness. An issue that has been exasperated by the Biden administration sending vast amounts of munitions and supplies to protect Ukraine while making America more vulnerable. Taxpayers have been forced to fund an attempt to secure Ukraine’s borders against Russia while the southern border in the U.S. has been overrun.
The journal pointed out that in addition to a reduced number of suppliers, America also suffers from a lack of skilled laborers,
“Chokepoints are one of a number of weaknesses in the U.S. military’s supply chains. Others include a lack of skilled workers in casting and forging, shortages of infrastructure for battery technology, and periodic shortages of advanced microchips.”