December 4, 2013
THE POOR CONFLICTED RIGHT:
Why the military is becoming a lean, green fighting machine (Eugene K. Chow, December 2, 2013, The Week)
Posted by Orrin Judd at December 4, 2013 6:31 PMBetween 2003 and 2007, over 3,000 American soldiers were killed during fuel supply convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Put another way: One in 24 fuel convoys resulted in an American death.The experience of those wars taught the military a brutal lesson: Its dependence on oil is deadly and - with the cost of delivering gas to remote regions of Afghanistan at $400 a gallon -- financially unsustainable.So in response, the Pentagon is going green.It's a practical reaction to battlefield conditions: Less fuel consumption means fighter jets can stay in the air longer, fewer fuel convoys in Afghanistan that can be attacked, and lower overall costs as budgets shrink and the price of oil continues to rise.Take the Marines, for instance.Once skeptical of renewable energy, Marines on the front lines of Afghanistan have become some of solar power's greatest proponents.Marines have widely deployed several solar panel systems, including a small, pack-carried panel that can charge radio batteries, a solar tarp that fits over a tent to power lighting systems, and a larger ground unit that can power four computers at a time.In addition, by using solar chargers to power equipment at night, the Marines don't have to run noisy generators, which reveal their position to the enemy. The solar panels are also light and highly compact. With the ability to recharge batteries on the go, Marines can forgo packing spares and carry more ammo and other critical supplies.At forward operating bases, these chargers have reduced generator fuel consumption from 20 gallons a day to 2.5 gallons a day, which in turn has reduced the number of fuel convoys, which are prime targets for insurgents and IEDs.