He said that, once vulnerable companies were identified, the Army could help them lower production costs, step up purchases of components for inventory, or find alternate, more agile suppliers. In many cases, smaller companies were reluctant to ask for help for fear of being seen as unreliable.
The U.S. military and its prime contractors have high standards for the components used on weapons systems, which means any new suppliers must undergo extensive testing, plant visits and other quality control measures.
Davis said A.T. Kearney, a global consulting firm, would help the Army conduct the 20-month study, while at the same time helping to train Army officials to better understand and analyze supply chain issues. The current plan was to spend four to five months with the larger prime contractors and then head out for field visits to smaller component makers.
Colonel William Sheehy, program manager for the Army’s Heavy Brigade Combat Team, said he did not expect much impact on smaller companies in the near term. But he worried that some companies could be reluctant to reopen shuttered production lines when the Army ramps up production in several years.
“I don’t think you’re going to see large companies collapsing all over the United States,” Sheehy told reporters. “If you look two to three years down the road, when things start to come back on line, that’s when you’ll start to realize the industrial base impacts.”