Military logisticians can be ferocious chess players. The military drives strategic thinking, aligning operational activities to campaign objectives. While the military does pay considerable attention to suppliers one level away in the supply chain, the Department of Defense also takes a far more comprehensive approach through the National Stockpile.
Moving down through the levels of any supply chain brings us progressively closer to the raw inputs. Risks or bottlenecks exist at every level. Over the course of the last year, many commercial companies came to understand choke points many levels away; ask General Motors if you don’t believe it. At the most basic level are the true raw material inputs, like ore that comes out of a mine.
The Defense Logistics Agency manages stockpiles classified as metals, miscellaneous non-metals, alloys, resins and compounds, rare earths, and precious metals. They call it the Strategic Materials Program, and there is a published list describing the “Materials of Interest.” They hedge and maintain what they judge to be the appropriate stockpile.
What are your materials of interest? What are the potential choke points? What are you doing to manage risk? Industry could learn something supply chain strategy from the military.
Logisticians need to play chess, not checkers, just like the military.