Logistics: Sale Of the Century In South Korea


October 10,2008:  South Korea is buying 250,000 tons of American munitions, at 87 percent of the original cost. That's because the U.S. no longer needs the ammo, spare parts and replacement weapons, and most of it is over ten years old anyway. These supplies comprise about half the 600,000 ton War Reserve Stocks that the United States began assembling in South Korea back in the early 1980s. This was to provide a 60 day supply of ammo for U.S. and South Korean forces, in the event of a North Korean attack. It would take over a month for fresh supplies to begin arriving from elsewhere.

The ammo will go to building up the South Korean armies stocks, which are for only about ten days combat. South Korea will not pay cash for this purchase, but instead will provide $280 million worth of services to move the remainder of the stocks to ports and onto ships for movement back to the United States. The South Koreans will incorporate the American material into their own war reserve. The U.S. officially ended its participation in the South Korea based war reserve program (no longer replacing expired items) two years ago, and has been negotiating ever since on how to deal with this huge amount of material.

Most of the war reserve consists of 155mm artillery ammunition, which is quite heavy. Ten shells, their propellant and packaging, weighs about a ton. South Korea, like the United States, has been switching to smart (GPS guided) weapons. While these weapons are much more expensive, one smart shell can do the work of ten dumb ones.

The material that South Korea is buying won't be moved. South Korea has been paying $70 million a year to help maintain it, and most of the personnel involved are South Korean. The cost of the material going to the South Korean is about $2.2 billion.


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