• US Military Steps on the Gas

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    With ongoing
    rising fuel prices, many solutions are being sought to reduce our
    dependence on foreign oil. While it is necessary, yea, even urgent,
    in the long run all efforts will be negated by the one of most inefficient
    and wasteful consumer of fossil fuels in the world.

    No, I'm not
    referring to China. I am talking about the US military.

    In WWII, the
    US daily military fuel consumption per service member was 1.67 gallons
    each. Today, the consumption is slightly over 27 gallons per service
    member per day. My rusty 1993 Chevy pickup truck could drive all
    week on that, and still have gas left over to fill my lawn mower.
    Now my truck is not fuel efficient by any means, but it has one
    saving virtue — it is paid off. With my humble income I cannot afford
    to buy a new, fuel-efficient car. The high monthly payments, along
    with the extra car insurance coverage a car loan entails, would
    negate any savings I'd realize in gas mileage. But as bad as the
    mileage my old truck gets, it beats the US Army's mechanized vehicles
    all hollow. The Army's Bradley fighting vehicle gets 1 mile
    per gallon. The mighty Abrams tank gets a whopping 2 miles
    per gallon. But it gets worse. It takes gasoline to fuel the transport
    to get gasoline to the fighting vehicles. Napoleon once said
    that an Army marches on its stomach. Little could he imagine that
    in the future, modern mechanized armies would be so dependent on

    In Iraq, alone,
    the US military expends an estimated 1.7 million gallons a day.
    Multiple that by whatever the current price of gasoline is as of
    this moment, and you get a pretty good idea we are talking about
    a lot of money, our money, is being spent. And that's
    not counting the fuel the military uses on everyday operations and
    military, air, and ship maneuvers worldwide outside of Iraq.
    The US military in 2004 consumed 144 million barrels of oil. This
    amount almost equals the consumption of the country of Greece! Then
    add the loss of fuel through accidents and mishandling, such as
    the 345,000 gallons of jet fuel negligently spilled this year at
    Fort Drum located in upstate New York. I grimace remorsefully at
    spilling drops of gas while refueling my lawn mower. The official
    response to this multimillion-dollar fiasco was less than penitent:

    one just showed a big spotlight on where we were seriously lacking
    in our capability to add precision to our analysis and precision
    to our ability to track these types of losses," said Colonel
    James Meyer, the Defense Energy Support Center's director of operations.

    So it took
    an ongoing leakage of 345,000 gallons over several years to spotlight
    this problem before the DESC noticed it? Would the DESC have noticed
    it any sooner if the spilled fuel had been ignited, and was observed
    from orbit by the Space Shuttle? I have my doubts.

    What is bitterly
    ironic is our gas guzzling military is occupying one of the richest
    oil producing countries in the world, yet it's presence in Iraq
    has succeeded it quad-tripling the cost of the very fuel it needs.
    Notwithstanding the many energy solutions being promoted, we will
    unlikely to ever see military vehicles, aircraft, and ships go "green"
    or become fuel-efficient hybrids. In terms of logistics and supply,
    such options would become a quartermasters and maintenance nightmare.
    For military operations, fuel efficiency is often necessary sacrificed
    for the sake of armor, armament, and speed needed for survival in
    combat — thus ensuring the US military will continue to be the largest,
    least efficient consumer of oil.

    As a result, our
    military's ongoing need for oil to fulfill its ever-expanding mission
    to police the world will continue to make us dependent on fossil
    fuels and foreign oil for years to come.


    18, 2008

    Shirtz [send him mail] is
    a transplanted Californian teaching Graphic Communications in Northern
    (Not “Upstate”) New York. His hobbies include arranging deck chairs
    on sinking ships, tilting at windmills, and being fashionably late.

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