The context: a big (fictitious) US Army base like Fort Hood or Fort Bragg is a focal point for civilisation hanging on as the apocalypse slowly happens around them. Over a period of several years, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, infrastructure has crumbled, the economy has collapsed, law and order vanished in many places. What’s left of the US government is hiding under Cheyenne Mountain.
Among the causes of this economic and social collapse are:
- A multiple year drought, all across the Midwest.
- One of the Azores Islands rips itself to bits, causing a mega-tsunami which hits all along the Eastern seaboard of the Americas.
- A few months later chunks of California ‘fall into the sea’ in a series of mega-quakes.
- ‘Super-measles’ pandemic with a 30% mortality rate has swept across the planet.
- There are gangs of ‘mutant’ humans on the go. Some are no different to any other post-apocalypse bunch of bandits with guns, but other gangs are intent on killing off as many ‘normal’ humans as possible.
- One ‘kill the normals’ faction is slowly building itself into an actual army, and starting to take territory and hold it, rather than just looting and pillaging in Mad Max biker gang fashion. (That faction has their beady eye on my Army base and has put it on their To Do list).
- The advantage the mutants have is some ‘Jedi mind powers’ (These are not the droids you are looking for) and being physically stronger than humans. If they get up close and personal in a fight, you are toast.
- The advantage the humans have is more manpower, being properly trained in warfare, and owning lots and lots of weaponry specifically designed to stop the enemy getting up close and personal – everything from handguns to artillery. However, all that firepower requires munitions, their stockpiles are getting low, and there are no factories manufacturing it any more... (Or at least none anywhere that my guys can get deliveries from).
After several years of this chaos my army base and garrison town has (accidentally rather than intentionally on their part) evolved into a ‘city state’: an island of civilisation, defending itself and a large chunk of farmland from marauders – both normal human and mutant human ones.
So what munitions can they feasibly recycle or manufacture as their stockpiles start to dwindle? Can they just make blasting caps and refill brass for small arms? What about a 50 cal? Are the artillery guys and tankers going to become unemployed due to lack of shells? (I suspect a ‘home made’ tank shell is a very bad idea, but have no actual facts to back this up). Also, what raw materials are they likely to start running out of?
In terms of the tech and resources they have available:
- Electricity is not a problem. They have a power station on their doorstep and the know-how to keep it running. (Until the bad guys take it out).
- Manpower is not a problem to start with. Though as things progress, (1) their population will take several hits from disease etc and (2) producing food will become more labour intensive so they’ll need to dedicate more folk to farming.
- The local town can have whatever light engineering facilities I want to invent, but it I don’t want them mining for resources. Recycling spent brass is fine, but smelting ores to make more from scratch is not.
- Fuel and mineral oil lubricants ARE a problem. Many vehicles are being converted to run on alcohol. Anything too big or too heavy to do this has effectively become scrap metal. (Bye bye tanks and aircraft).
- They are doing cost-benefit analyses on what crops they grow. For instance if they grow rapeseed, they have to decide what proportions they feed to people, feed to poultry to get the eggs/meat, use as lubricant or convert into biodiesel/ethanol for fuel.
- They are in contact with other military and government places by radio, so any “we tried that and it didn’t work” or “our expert suggests this” ideas can be traded back and forth.