U.S. Military Hit by Supply Chain Shortage

The global supply chain shortage is being felt at U.S. military stations across the world, including in Japan and South Korea.

Stars and Stripes reported on Thursday that supply chain issues caused by the COVID pandemic were impacting Defense Department commissaries worldwide, including in Europe and Asia.

At the start of the year, there were food shortages in Japan and South Korea, the outlet reported, citing Facebook posts by military officials. Chilled items, including dairy products, have been hit hardest by the supply chain shortages so far.

Butter, cheese, coffee creamer, cream, milk and yogurt, as well as eggs and chilled juices, are missing from the shelves at most U.S. bases in Japan. U.S. military bases in Germany and Italy have also been reported to have experienced food shortages in recent months.

"For the immediate future, do not expect our commissary shelves to be stocked at levels that we are used to," Camp Kinser, a Marine base on Okinawa, Japan, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. The post said that the Defense Commissary Agency "sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this may cause the community, but they are doing all they can to get product to the shelves."

Air Force spouse Valerie Jackson, 31, shopped on Wednesday at the commissary at the Camp Foster military base in Okinawa, Japan, because the shelves are much emptier at the nearby Kadena Air Base.

"The Kadena commissary is kind of lacking in supplies and we're wanting tacos tonight," Jackson told Stars and Stripes. "My husband went the other day and said that there was hardly anything left, like milk, sour cream, cheese."

The same California distributor supplies commissaries in Japan and South Korea, so all the bases in those countries are equally affected by shortages, Kalani Patsel, commissary zone manager in Okinawa, told the military news site in an email.

In a Camp Kinser Community group on Facebook there were several pictures of empty shelves, including one with no milk left.

Newsweek has contacted the poster of the photos for further comment, as well as the military base.

"We have 100s of containers with commissary products sitting out in the U.S. ports waiting to get off-loaded," Patsel said. "Now top that with a COVID case in any of these chain links and supply interruptions will occur."

Shelves may be restocked by the end of the month, Patsel added.

"There will be times that we won't have an item in stock for whatever the reason is," he wrote. "However, I can assure you that we are doing our utmost to try and get the necessities to the customers as quickly as possible."

Pent up consumer demand as the world recovers from the pandemic, coupled with a dearth of truck drivers and a build up of container ships at ports, has been causing the supply chain shortages.

Stock photo of empty shelves
A file photo of empty shelves. The global supply chain shortage is being felt at U.S. military stations across the world, even as far as the bases in Japan and South Korea. Getty