Global strategist Col. Dan Steiner (USAF-Ret.) tells American Family News there are legitimate concerns about the supply chain that are pertinent to the overall national security of the United States. While there appears to be a demand for goods which outweighs the ability to produce them in a timely manner, he says the circumstance is creating vulnerabilities that America's adversaries are likely keeping tabs on.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the main transport mode for global trade is ocean shipping, as around 90% of traded goods are carried over the waves. So Steiner argues that it's likely the Chinese regime is looking for vulnerabilities in the middle of a nationwide supply chain crisis.
"Enemies want to exploit weaknesses," Steiner explains. "[And] one of the things that adversaries will almost always do is look at events that aren't necessarily tied to military capabilities."
For example, the retired military officer suggests that the slow movement of goods into the United States has created a "social strife" that Beijing would recognize as "a fragile part of [U.S.] society" – and could "weaponize" against Americans.
And with a massive shortage of goods around the globe, "[it's easy to see] the importance of littoral lanes coming out of Asia and how the control of these lanes can impact the rest of the world," he states. "Imagine if those littoral lanes were closed and ships weren't even allowed to sail in our direction."
Consequently, he contends it has become "critical to [the country's] survival" that the U.S. keep littoral lanes open for trading.
A fractured supply chain could also have a substantial impact on military readiness, according to the retired Air Force officer.
"[When I was a commander], it was essential for me to be able to do my wartime tasking, [which included] getting properly equipped to go to war," he offers.
While he admits the vast majority of his equipment was supplied by the government, there remained some dependency on "off-the-shelf" items. Batteries, for example, could be one of those simple, commercial items necessary for deployment.
"Any number of products not typically available in a supply room could require commercial purchases," he explains.
Steiner says it could get "really scary" when a commanding officer has to prepare those under his authority for war in the midst of a supply chain shortage. While it doesn't affect weapons or ammo, he says, it could have an impact on the availability of other essentials.
"When that process is interrupted for whatever reason, whether by shipping supply or demand, it creates a fiasco that could impact military readiness," Steiner states. "These seemingly small interruptions rarely resonate up the chain of command." But it's a growing problem that needs to be communicated, he adds.
The retired Air Force colonel assumes the Department of Defense is addressing this issue, although not publicly, and asking questions like Have supply shortages affected our ability to go to war? and How can the impact of a supply shortage be negated?
"While most [Americans] will be talking about the nightmare of getting toys at Christmastime," Steiner says, "the DoD is looking for how supply shortages will impact the U.S. military – and by the time they paint that picture, collectively throughout the Armed Services, it'll quickly become an extremely classified document."
Once again, he suggests imagining an adversary closing all littoral lanes.
"What's being witnessed is a microcosm of what the next type of warfare could be over," he concludes: "The inability of our nation to receive materials from other parts of the world."