After the end of the Cold War, stockpile materials requirements dropped precipitously. By 2005, the inventory of goal materials1 had declined to $90 million for only three materials, identified by a materials requirements decision process. Understanding that process has been a central pillar of the committee’s assessment of the relevance of the configuration the NDS and its assessment of what general principles might be applied to the operation of some future stockpile-like activity.
The NDS operates under the authority of the Strategic and Critical Stock Piling Act.2 This act provides that strategic and critical materials be stockpiled by the U.S. government to decrease and preclude, when possible, a dangerous and costly dependence by the United States upon foreign sources for supplies of such materials in times of a national emergency. Under the law, the Department of Defense (DoD) is required every other year to recommend requirements for materials already in the stockpile and others it believes should be in the stockpile. Each biennial report includes assumptions used in making the recommendation. The act directs that those assumptions be based on a military conflict scenario consistent with the assumptions used for budgeting and defense planning purposes. Essentially the law mandates that the process for setting materials requirements include a conflict scenario defined by the following:
The length and intensity of the assumed conflict;
The structure of the military force to be mobilized;
The losses anticipated from enemy action;
The military, industrial, and essential civilian requirements to support the national emergency;
The availability of strategic and critical materials from both foreign and domestic sources during the mobilization period, the military conflict itself, and the subsequent period of replenishment, taking into consideration possible shipping losses; and
Civilian austerity measures required during the mobilization and conflict periods.
According to the law, stockpile requirements are to be set for those strategic and critical materials the United States needs to replenish or replace within 3 years of the end of a military conflict scenario, based on the principles outlined above.