BUILDING THE NATION'S FOUNDRY: THE EVOLUTION OF
THE ARMY ORDNANCE INDUSTRIAL BASE
As the Army and others consider how to modify the ownership and organization of its ordnance industrial base, it is important to understand that any significant change will bring about a profound cultural shift. Furthermore, this cultural bias is not confined to the Army; it extends to the Congress as well. The current structure is rooted deep in the Army's history, and many of the attitudes that form the thinking about how weapons and munitions should be provided to the forces trace back to the very origins of the Army and, indeed, the nation itself. This is not to say that these attitudes are either wrongheaded or obstructive. However, as policymakers consider other ways to provide weapons and munitions, it is important to understand that such attitudes exist and why. This chapter briefly outlines the history of how the nation armed itself, beginning in days of the revolution, and charts how the United States arrived at a way of procuring weapons and munitions that differs substantially from most other nations.
Two patterns characterize how the Army supplies itself with weapons and munitions. Before World War II, the Army faced the dual requirements of equipping its modest peacetime force for active service while simultaneously preparing for mobilization in the event of a national emergency. In the rush to arms in any given conflict, prewar preparations were generally inadequate. Thus a buildup normally took place before the Army could begin active campaigning. Following World War II, arming a large standing Regular Army— deployed overseas even during peacetime—and National Guard and Reserve forces has been the norm. In contrast, constant readiness and large peacetime standing forces, with rapidly available reserve force augmentation, are perhaps the defining characteristics of the post–World War II Army. The remainder of this chapter examines how the Army and the nation have approached the issue of arming these very different forces.