Archives for March 2016

They haven’t forgotten us. Have we forgotten them?

By Steve Geary | 03/30/2016 | 2:02 PM

On March 25, 2016, the New York Times reported, “Since March 2014, the Islamic State has carried out or inspired at least 29 deadly assaults targeting Westerners around the world, killing more than 650 people, according to a New York Times analysis of such attacks.”

Apparently the Times has grown bored with the slaughter taking place outside of Europe.

On March 26, PBS News reported, “The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack at an Iraqi soccer stadium on Friday that killed 41 people and wounded dozens more.  A suicide bomber struck in the small town of Iskandariyah about 30 miles outside of Baghdad as trophies were reportedly being handed out to soccer players by local officials.” 

The Friday that the PBS News cites was March 25, the same date that the New York Times chose to focus on terrorism in Europe and ignore what was happening in Iraq.

Does the Times think we no longer care about terrorism and death in Iraq?  Are deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa, and all the other places outside of Europe where ISIS has launched affiliates somehow irrelevant?  Does the Times really mean to minimize the importance of terrorism outside of ‘the West?’

ISIS is a logistics problem, folks.  We are dealing with a network, not a bunch of nodes.  To deal with ISIS in Europe, you have to deal with it everywhere else, too.   The ISIS logistics problem also creates a heightened need for security measures in our own global logistics and distribution networks.

If you are reading this column you are likely involved in logistics, and probably in North America.  You should be nervous.  I am.

I spent a lot of time on the ground in Iraq.  To be precise, I spent lots of time in Iskandariyah - where the latest atrocity occurred - during the dark days.  In 2006 and 2007, when I was part of a group operating in and around Iskan, we wore full battle gear.  We approached the challenges of peace and stability as a network problem.

It worked.  We starved the terrorist net by building an industrial net, a set of supply chain activities that generated jobs and hope, and stability broke out.  In March 2008 Senator John McCain, then a candidate for president, was able to visit Iskan. 

The Senator didn’t have to wear armor as he walked through the public market.

I have a very dear friend from those days who still lives in Iskandariyah.  Quoting from an email he sent a few days ago – to the man I worked for in Iraq, “Thank you for joining us in our grief and sympathy toward the tragic incident in our city.  We are so grateful to your efforts during your time in Iraq.  Special thanks to the American's for their support and for the souls of the martyrs of the Iraqis and the Americans who sacrificed their lives for the ideal concept of democracy.”

Please don’t forget our Iraqi friends.  They haven’t forgotten us.

In September of 2008, DC Velocity published an article on the work in Iskandariyah.  Click here to read it.


Rare Earth: Where national interests and the global supply chain collide

By Steve Geary | 03/23/2016 | 10:39 AM

If you live in Manhattan, rare earth is what you call any patch where something green is growing. 

If you’re old enough, you may remember the band Rare Earth, who had a big hit, “Get Ready,” a song that was massacred by bands at just about every high school dance in America.

To industry, rare earth means something completely different. Rare earth metals are a critical input to many manufacturing processes. From golf clubs to electronics to fighter aircraft, rare earth elements are virtually irreplaceable inputs.

According to the Rare Earth Technology Alliance, an industry association, rare earths “are a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust that are vital to many modern technologies, including consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, clean energy, advanced transportation, health care, environmental mitigation, national defense, and many others.”

According to Namibia Rare Earths, Inc., a mining company, rare earths are used in high-intensity street lamps, lenses, battery electrodes, catalytic converters, colored glass, steel production, super-strong magnets, welding goggles, lasers, microphones, hybrid automobile motors, nuclear-reactor control rods, color TV screens, fuel cells, sonar systems, hard-disk devices, transducers, signal amplification for fiber-optic cables, metallurgical uses, high-temperature superconductors, LED light bulbs, and integrated circuit manufacturing.

It isn’t really a stretch to say that you’ve probably made use of rare earth today.

There are some very particular uses of rare earth elements in defense applications. In the defense, rare earths are used in precision-guided weapons, laser range-finders, guidance systems, fiber-optic data-transmission equipment, and stealth aircraft. Rare earth is also used in permanent magnets that are stable at high temperatures—use your imagination to figure out where that matters.

As the market for rare earth metals boomed over the course of the last 20 years, free markets went to work. The most competitive producers took over the market, and there was blood on the streets. Once upon a time, U.S. producers dominated the market. Today, more than 90% of world production comes from China.

The expansion of global logistics capability, led by U.S. firms, has made the shift to Chinese sources of supply possible. If you are in the logistics business and involved in rare earth, times are good. Minerals are moving, equipment is moving, and money is being made.

Free markets work. Except when they don’t. 

Consider one vulnerability: There are more than 900 pounds of rare earth metals in the Joint Strike Fighter. Apparently, the rare earth metals are vital to the stealthy characteristics of the aircraft. Those metals come from China. 

Things are a little tense these days between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea. Economics and national interest have collided. What if China decides to restrict the supply of rare earth metals?

Commercial firms want rare earth metals. Defense imperatives demand rare earth metals. China controls the supply of rare earth metals. What national security risks are we willing to take to embrace free markets in the private sector?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Send them to me at steve@dcvelocity.com .

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph is a recently retired Marine Colonel with over 30 years of operational experience, proven leadership, and management success in the logistics and supply chain management fields. He is an executive consultant with ROSE Solutions and the Supply Chain Visions family of companies - consultancies that work throughout the government sector. Mike led the Marine Corps Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management Center at Marine Corps Logistics Command - responsible for supply chain and life cycle management of all ground weapon systems, equipment, and reparable components, the depot maintenance program, and equipment prepositioning program. During 2004-2008, he served two tours of duty in Anbar Province, Iraq as the G-4 for Multi-National Force – West, supporting all combat operations and coalition efforts to revitalize Iraqi economic development and stability. Mike's efforts were recognized with the Bronze Star for his first tour and the Legion of Merit for his second. He was widely recognized as a visionary and innovator in the Marine Corps logistics community.


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