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The Military Government Technology

Among the Costs of War: $20B In Air Conditioning 409

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
TechkNighT_1337 submitted one of the most well spun little news nuggets I've read in awhile: "The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion. That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia."
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Among the Costs of War: $20B In Air Conditioning

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  • Interesting. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:28AM (#36596222)

    Funny how being green and efficient is considered a weakness instead of a strength.

    A gallon of fuel you dont need to use, is one you dont need to carry or convoy in.

    • by alen (225700)

      "if it aint broke don't fix it"

      you wouldn't believe how many times i have heard this when i was in the army. unlike civilian life where everything has a return on investment and everyone is trying justify projects because they save money overall, it's not done in the military. ask for more money and complain if you don't get it

      • That is one of the worst sayings. If we followed it, all progress would stop.

        • You have obviously never worked on a vehicle or done home improvement projects. Its one of the best rules to live by.

          • Hah I've done plenty of both, that saying only applies if you have no idea what you're doing.

          • Which is why the US auto industry came close to disappearing. The Japanese, Korean and European car makers believe in continuous development, and they fixed things like high fuel consumption and poor quality before US car makers perceived them as being broken. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" only works if you have a very market-oriented view of what "broke" means.

            Nowadays Germany turns out passenger cars in volume with both supercharging and turbocharging for light weight and high efficiency, and Japan tur

    • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:07AM (#36596780) Journal
      This is the major reason why the military has been investing heavily in green tech. A gallon of diesel fuel at the front lines in Afghanistan costs the military something like $400 because it first needs to be shipped in-country, then trucked through hostile territory on roads, and sometimes lashed to a mule and packed in. Plus, supply convoys are ripe targets - casualties due to roadside bombs these days are comparable, if not higher, than actual combat. The military realized this a couple of years ago, looking at the single-walled canvas tents they are cooling with A/C run from diesel generators in a 110 F desert. Being one of the biggest users of, well, everything in this world, their economies of scale and opportunities for savings at home and in theater are huge. They have [energybulletin.net] been [npr.org] working [nytimes.com] on it [ieee.org], but it's a huge infrastructure and logistical change to undertake. If anything, it should give us all pause to realize how big a job the rest of the world will have to change our own infrastructure and habits to become more efficient.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        looking at the single-walled canvas tents they are cooling with A/C run from diesel generators in a 110 F desert.

        If only there was something they could put on the outside of the tent to keep sun/heat out...

      • by drooling-dog (189103) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:44AM (#36598062)

        With the low humidity there, it would seem that evaporative cooling would work well. Of course, you still need water, but Evian is cheaper if you buy the big 24-packs...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      We could use choppers to ferry stuff around, but it is much more expensive than sending out some guys in a jeep or hummer. Plus it looks like we are afraid of the Talibhan.

      There was an interview with an army officer on the radio a month or two back where they asked why they try to defuse roadside bombs instead of just blowing them up from a safe distance. This was in the context of yet another bomb disposal expert being killed, on his last day of service no less.

      The answer given was that by defusing the bom

    • by kisak (524062)

      Wasn't it the brilliant republican mind Dick C. that stated back in 2001:

      Energy conservation is just "a sign of personal virtue" and relying on renewableswould threaten "our way of life."

      Got to wonder what could have been achieved had there been a bit more focus on renewable energy 10 years ago.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I recall a story on /. even about spraying foam on the tents to save energy, particularly in hot areas like Afghanistan and Iraq (and cold in the Afghan winter when you have to heat the place).

      The rest of the world may have it easier, as individuals can do it individually. When I save on energy, I see it in the next bill, clear incentive. When a soldier saves energy, well it may mean extra effort. And this problem can be seen for most companies as well: individuals don't have a (financial) incentive, no re

  • by drachenfyre (550754) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:31AM (#36596252) Homepage

    You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

    • No, but I do believe that air conditioning in the desert for all those troops would indeed cost this much.
      • by yarnosh (2055818)
        Especially if the structures they're air conditioning are mobile and not well insulated.
        • by jittles (1613415)
          Not many of the structures get air conditioning at all. But they do bring server farms and whatnot with them that do come in air conditioned trailers. Now the Air Force on the other hand, well I hear they don't go anywhere without A/C ;)
          • by LordNimon (85072)

            Maybe they should be called the Air Conditioning Force.

          • Well, they need some hardware to run Powerpoint on.

            "A PowerPoint Ranger is a military member who relies heavily on presentation software to the point of excess. Some junior officers spend the majority of their time preparing PowerPoint slides.[10] Because of its usefulness for presenting mission briefings, it has become part of the culture of the military,[9][11] but is regarded as a poor decision-making tool.[12] As a result some generals, such as Brigadier-General Herbert McMaster, have banned the use of

    • You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

      Throw enough CMMI at the hammer or toilet seat, and yes I do think it cost that much.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If those are space-hammers and space-toilets, then yes... I do think they do.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @11:28AM (#36598884)

      As a former member of the military I can tell you that they do spend that much money (well maybe not that much but close) on these things. The reason why is that the military has EXTREMELY high standards and has very detailed specifications that must be met for each and every piece of equipment that goes into active duty.

      For example, I was flight crew on the E3 AWACS and had to go thru several rounds of maintenance and rebuilds of the airframe and avionics (don't forget the powerplants) and to be able to maintain an air frame over a 30-40 year lifespan, with all of it's components, sub-systems and redundancies requires that the manufacturer's design, testing and implementation process be incredibly exhaustive. On top of all of this, these machines are run by children. Remember the vast majority of operators of this type of equipment are under the age of 21. You haven't seen documentation and training unless you've been in the military. It is thorough, exhaustive and focused.

      Now I don't excuse the cost overruns and I realize that many military programs have a lot of waste in them, but just imagine if you had to build a software/hardware system that could not fail, had well defined interfaces and had the ultimate pluggable component system, runs in any environment (hot, cold, freezing, boiling, extreme altitude, etc.), was upgradeable and repairable while running, was fully redundant times 3, could withstand an EMP pulse, internally generated enough power to run an airborne radar system that, while on the ground, could generate enough power to detonate fuel in a vehicle within a 30-40 yard radius or literally burn you alive, could refuel while in the air, house 25-30 people safely, fly at subsonic speeds and be maintained by children just out of high-school.

      It is non-trivial to say the least. The complexity, attention to detail and completeness dwarfs anything I have ever seen in the civilian world. That's why it costs so much damn money for military equipment.

    • The Iraq war has really illuminated the incredible level of fraud by contractors. If we can spend millions to Haliburton to deliver "sailboat fuel" around Iraq (really they were driving empty trucks around and charging the taxpayer), then suddenly a $20,000 hammer makes a lot more sense.
  • Détente? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:31AM (#36596260)

    I heard that the Cold War was over!

  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:33AM (#36596292) Homepage

    How are these tents built up? Is this just a canvas tent, no insulation whatever?

    That would be rather ... stupid. It should be quite simple to construct something portable with at least a modicum of insulation.

    • by MrQuacker (1938262) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:38AM (#36596354)

      Yes, thats the point. Thats why they now spray foam on them. Going from none to foam reduces energy use by 92%.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:39AM (#36596386) Homepage

      They are better than that. Tents typically are covered with the "space blankets" and then covered with another tent. to cover the space blanket. it makes a MAJOR difference as the reflective mylar will reflect 90% of the heat back out.

      Now expecting our military to have the brains to do that..... nope... the guys on the ground doing it themselves? yes, many of the grunts are far smarter than the officers.

      • by Toze (1668155) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:20AM (#36597756)
        Many of the grunts have to deal with practical problems that officers do not, and find immediately workable solutions because there are millions of them, and they share tricks they figure out. It's a small free market of ideas, so good ideas frequently spread quickly. Of course, so do bad ones.
    • by vlm (69642)

      It should be quite simple to construct something portable with at least a modicum of insulation.

      No, it isn't quite simple. It is very easy to construct permanent structures that are well insulated. Portable? No.

      Let me know if you ever find a highly insulated car, RV, tank, train passenger car...

      Most insulation either does not tolerate vibration, water, impact, is toxic when on fire, is toxic or semi-toxic to transport and apply by untrained personnel, or the lifetime under combat conditions is so short that disposal becomes an environmental problem (so... we poured out a slab of canned instant foam

  • Solar Power? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KnownIssues (1612961) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:39AM (#36596376)

    From every photo I've seen of Afghanistan, it looks to me like they have a surplus of sunlight. I understand solar power can't replace fuel for everything, but couldn't it dramatically reduce the cost of cooling troops? What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

    • Re:Solar Power? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TWX (665546) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:49AM (#36596528)

      What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

      Probably bureaucracy and lack of familiarity and/or comfort with the technology in question.

      It take that military a long, long time to change things. They go through conceptual processes, design processes, review processes, redesign processes, certification processes, and that's for things that get developed quickly and that officers want. When officers don't want something or don't understand the nature of the technology, or when they don't think their enlistees can manage the tech, things go a lot slower.

      This is partially why the military tends to look for variants on an existing theme. M4 versus M16. All of the versions of the M72. It's much easier to go with the same or with similar. Throwing in a whole new technology, at least as far as their usage, is not nearly as easy for training or simplicity.

      Specifically for solar panels, keep in mind that they're fragile, and it wouldn't take much (oh, like a single bullet) to destroy a fairly sizable panel. It would be easy for an enemy, with a few well-placed shots from an iron-sights sniper rifle, to destroy all of the solar panels and thus to destroy all of the cooling. If they're trucking in fuel for things that can't solar-power anyway, it makes sense, to them, to continue to truck that much more fuel in for everything else that uses power.

      I don't necessarily agree, and I think that with effort a certain degree of ruggedization of solar panels should be achievable, but right now they're not interested, and that'll be that.

      • Re:Solar Power? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dails (1798748) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:06AM (#36596766)

        That's all true, but for as inefficient as it may seem, there are reasons for all of those. IAAAMO (I am an American military officer), and I can attest to the nature of the American military; we are an incredibly capable organization and almost unstoppable at the tasks we are equipped and trained for, but we were never designed to be agile or efficient. I'm a naval officer, so ships are what I know, and ships are damn expensive. Not just building, but designing, testing the designing, reworking requirements, testing requirements, adjusting for how much training would be required for the equipment vs how much we can do, ammunition and fuel consumption rates vs. supply capabilities, etc. The ships on the water now were on the drawing board twenty years ago (some of the tech in them is newer and could be installed on them because of the long dev time). We (the Navy) have fewer than 300 ships. Imagine an army of 300,000, each one with a set of gear. You want to change one piece, it's not one piece, it's 300,000 pieces. You want a new tent? It's not a new tent, it's 50,000 new tents. You can call it waste in government if you like (I know you didn't), but it's really just the nature of operating an enormous organization. You think lean, corporate giants where profit is king are different? They are not. Ask anyone who works at Raytheon, Microsoft, Apple, Maersk, etc.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Probably bureaucracy and lack of familiarity and/or comfort with the technology in question.

        Also political. Its hard to build a stable reliable solar plant that is not permanent. Installing solar plants is an admission we will never leave. Which seems to pretty much be the truth, making it a good idea. But its hard to get people to admit that.

        Specifically for solar panels, keep in mind that they're fragile, and it wouldn't take much (oh, like a single bullet) to destroy a fairly sizable panel. It would be easy for an enemy, with a few well-placed shots from an iron-sights sniper rifle, to destroy all of the solar panels and thus to destroy all of the cooling.

        I can tell by your other commentary you are either in / involved with / or really close to someone in the US military, and this shows it too, in a different way, the high tech elaborate American style solution. The preferred anti-solar weapon is not an e

        • Installing solar plants is an admission we will never leave.

          Why couldn't we let the Afghans use it after we're gone?

          I don't necessarily think solar is the best idea for forward operating bases, but building solar power plants for military and subsequent civilian use in places like Kabul could generate goodwill (just like other infrastructure improvements).

    • Moving any military equipment is going to be extremely heavy as it's often very hardened for many types of environments. Also, photovoltaics are extremely fragile, collect dust, and the lead acid batteries are heavy too. The only thing solar has going for it is that it's a readily available power source for part of the day. In remote places like Afghanistan where you want to setup sensors and relays, it could provide a strategic value where importing fuel would not.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

      Lack of incentive. Do you really get the impression that the military here is strapped for cash?
  • This doesn't surprise me. The tents or building the troops are in probably aren't all that well insulated and they are probably using window ACs as well. Add in breakage and the low efficiency of the setup and it seems to be a reasonable value. I am not saying this is a good thing, but given the waste in government it doesn't surprise me one bit.
  • Have they considered only air conditioning the building and vehicles rather than the whole countries? I assume that would be cheaper.

  • by nharmon (97591) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:45AM (#36596474) Homepage

    ...Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107 billion the Pentagon says it will spend in Afghanistan next year.

    So of the $107 billion we will spend in Afghanistan, $20.2 billion of it is for air conditioning? Seriously, almost 20% of our war cost?

    But the devil is in the details. The calculation takes into consideration all sorts of services that are not solely used for air conditioning. Escort, command and control, medevac support...all are resources that support multiple purposes and not just creature comforts for soldiers. That would be like me saying the annual cost of maintaining my vehicle includes the band-aids I keep in the medicine chest because I occasionally scrape my knuckles loosening the drain plug.

    In other words, we do not spend $20 billion on air conditioning. Instead, the cost of every resource that has any tangential effect on air conditioning has a combined cost of $20 billion. Wake me up when NPR posts some information that is actually useful.

    • by FatSean (18753)

      Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107/yr to be pissed away into Afghanistan with no benefit for Americans not turning a profit from this war already.

      Let's not forget the costs not factored into $107Billion/yr: life-long care for the thousands of crippled soldiers returning from this waste of time and effort.

    • Well, then look at the direct costs. How many gallons per hour do the generators and AC use? How many generators are in use. And how much does the average gallon of fuel cost to deliver.

      • by nharmon (97591)

        I suspect the direct costs are not more than we spend on NASA, and thus not anti-war news worthy (thrown out there based on the big bold quote from Sen. Manchin).

        • Really? Do the math, the numbers grow quite rapidly. Assuming very conservatively that a gallon of diesel costs $25 to deliver to an FOB (closer to $400/gal at times). Using an example number of 1000 gallons used per hour across all Afghanistan. That's $600,000 per day right there. $219 million a year.

          Plug in actual consumption numbers and watch the costs soar.

          • by nharmon (97591)

            That $219 million is still two orders of magnitude less than what NASA gets in funding per year; so yes, I really doubt we spend more on air conditioning our tents in Afghanistan than we do on NASA.

    • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:55AM (#36596614) Homepage

      Well, air-con isn't very energy efficient. So you're getting a shed-load of energy from somewhere. If you're talking entire camps hooked up, that's dozens KW's of capacity all day long, every day. A/C is actually quite a substantial chunk of any business's electrical cost that has it installed.

      Now if you are indeed running mobile sites via fuel-based generators, that's a shed-load of inefficiency and cost again there. Ever run a petrol- or diesel-generator? Works out about 5-10 times more expensive than grid electric. Not to mention that if you're without it even for an hour, the A/C has to "warm-start" and pull a ton more energy than normal.

      Now you're in a "hostile" country, you can't plug into the grid, and your fuel has to be DRIVEN in, using more fuel, in batches that will last you, say, a week at a time - it will form quite a significant chunk of your transport to move that much fuel around. Loading, movement, weight, unloading, fuelling, etc. That's a lot of work to cause, just for a liquid only intended to cool tents (and I imagine actual fuel costs for transport are a fraction of what would be used in A/C).

      Add in losses, thefts, inefficiencies, the fact that fuel in those countries probably hasn't been bought at the local petrol station (but, ironically, comes from oil shipped from the Middle East to the US only to be refined and then shipped back again at great expense under military escort), that you're cooling a tent (the stupidest thing I ever heard), that the equipment use is probably unmonitored (so nobody is really aware if one unit is on all day, every day for no reason), etc. etc. and I can quite believe it.

      Soon, this will become another one of those "and the Russians used a pencil" sayings - I bet every other military just has their soldiers adapt to the same conditions as the people they are fighting - cheaper, more sensible, more efficient and a lot greater sense.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "Works out about 5-10 times more expensive than grid electric."

        Not to mention that using explosions to turn a generator to create electricity to generate the energy for again turning a pump in the AC unit wastes 3/4 of the energy.

    • The war in Afghanistan costs a hell of a lot more than $107 billion, maybe $107 billion this year, but it almost a 10 year old war. Secondly, the number given in the summary is aggregate over both Iraq and Afghanistan, not just for one year.
    • The $20 billion is for Iraq and Afghanistan, not just Afghanistan. Those two wars are projected to cost $163 billion in 2011, which puts "air conditioning" costs at 12% of overall costs. But you are precisely right, the $20 billion spent per year on air conditioning is a perfect example of lying with statistics.
    • To be fair, NPR did post the breakdown of this cost and explanation in the article, near the top. It's also a quote from Steven Anderson, who is "a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq." I would argue that man knows what he's talking about, and more importantly, it's his words, not NPR's.
      • by nharmon (97591)

        I am not seeing where NPR posted the breakdown of this cost. The only explanation was General Anderson's statement of including "escorting, command and control, medevac support".

        In fact, if you read the transcript [npr.org] of the interview the article is based on, General Anderson does not say if the $20 billion figure is per year, or over the whole ten years we have been at war.

        Finally, just because General Anderson is an expert and "knows what he's talking about", does not mean he is being honest. Argument from au

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          Finally, just because General Anderson is an expert and "knows what he's talking about", does not mean he is being honest. Argument from authority and all that.

          Here is what you were looking for: "[Anderson]'s in the private sector now, pitching green solutions to the Pentagon - things like foam insulation, which the military has tried, spraying this stuff on to tents to make those air-conditioning bills go down."

          He has a clear motivation to try to make the cost of Aircon (and energy in general) sound as large as possible. Now that doesn't mean it's not true, only that it is subject to bias. But then again, we have no problem letting the beef industry tell us wha

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @11:09AM (#36598550) Homepage Journal

      Reading, it's fundamental! NPR pointed out that the $20B per year is for Iraq AND Afghanistan. Please add the cost of the Iraq war to the $107B before dividing the $20B figure by it to come to a percentage of total cost. Then, you will arrive at the actual percentage of the war cost spent on air conditioning (*based on the criteria for this report.) It's also worth noting that this figure came from none other than Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq, Steven Anderson. So no, this isn't a "liberally biased anti-war puff piece" like the NPR detractors would have you believe; this is a figure from someone very high up *inside the Defense Department*.

      Or, you can turn off NPR and go back to being told what to think by some other news outlet. Your choice.

    • $107 billion a year to fight a war in Afghanistan??? Geez, take a tip from IT and outsource it to China or India.
    • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:17PM (#36602464) Homepage

      Well; also, factor in the cost of the salaries of the accountants and filing clerks that track the logistical operations to make sure all of that fuel is supplied, especially to critical ops locations like field hospitals, and command centers where shelters MUST remain cool 24x7. This is why hammers cost $200. And this is why wars like this one, in particular, are particularly futile, as far as economic ventures go. It is an extremely cost-inefficient way to jack up someone's ego.

      We could have saved ourselves hundreds of billions by hiring the best doctors in the world to surgically attach a giant horse penis to George Bush, thus resolving his psychological inadequacy issues, without all the waste and bloodshed.

  • Let's assume that a barrel of oil (equivalent) energy costs 1000 dollar - instead of the normal 100. The US army brings it to its destination in expensive convoys.
    Let's also assume that the infrastructure costs as much as the energy: 2000 dollar/barrel of oil equivalent energy. (The result of both is probably more).

    Then they would consume 10 million barrels of oil equivalent per year, or about 1.2 billion kg of oil, or about 5*10^16 J/yr, or about 1.6 GW in energy...

    Which seems an awful lot.

    Then again, we m

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:50AM (#36596552)
    We spend more in cooling air than exploring outer space ... Well done, humanity ... /ironic
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:58AM (#36596654) Homepage Journal

    Things are done like they are for a reason.

    The tents are air conditioned with diesel-powered ECUs because people get heat related illnesses when they are not. They aren't kept at 68 degrees F - more like 80-85, but it's better than 105-130F outside. The ECUs also act as heaters in mountainous environments - Afghanistan, for one.

    A TOC (command post) is a tent complex surrounded by concrete barriers and/or concertina wire. It's powered by generators. The wire and barriers are to stop potshots from firearms and to offer some protection against mortars/grenades/rockets. The wire isn't intended to harm, it mostly sticks to your skin and clothing and prevents you from going inside the post. The generators are used because they fit inside the perimeter.

    Reflective blankets aren't used because the reflective blankets stick out like a sore thumb from the air, or the ground.

    Insulation is not sprayed on the tents because they, you know, move...

    Solar panels - envision putting a solar panel outside the perimeter. Envision carrying around solar panels and setting them up where you operate. Impractical from a logistical standpoint and could not be secured efficiently against attack without extending the perimeter to perhaps double or triple the circumference, with all the associated costs in additional manning for force protection. A nonstarter.

    The same arguments apply to LSA - the places soldiers live - but with some modification. Some are fixed and might be amenable to alternative power sources, but the perimeter guard issue rears its head again. You can't beat generators for portability.

    • by the_raptor (652941) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:30AM (#36597120)

      "The tents are air conditioned with diesel-powered ECUs because people get heat related illnesses when they are not."

      Harden up sweet heart. Somehow British, Australian, Canadian, and other Commonwealth troops ran riot across Northern Africa and the Middle East in two world wars without their armies collapsing from heat stroke. Air conditioned tents are just a creature comfort like having fast food vendors on the bases is. It has nothing to do with military effectiveness (it probably detracts from it as the troops won't be properly acclimatised for when they are off base).

      Alexander the Great CONQUERED Afghanistan and his troops were probably lucky to have woollen blankets and had walked all the way from Macedonia conquering what is now Iraq and Persia along the way.

      P.S. The Soviet army response to their soldiers complaining about having to sleep in the snow with just a great-jacket was to make them spend more time training in the snow so they got used to it.

      • by asylumx (881307)
        So what if Alexander the Great conquered Afghanistan like that? It's not under Greek control now, is it? Maybe that says something about how important it is to treat your people like people instead of like livestock. Same story with the soviet army. Look how well things have turned out for them...

        Also, were their armies all-volunteer? Our is. It takes some degree of respect and accomodation from the higher-ups to keep the incoming stream of volunteers at a reasonable level.
        • If the higher-ups really respected their soldiers they wouldn't put them in ridiculous situations at the behest of politicians (ie trying to do both Iraq and Afghanistan with not enough troops for either one). Also paying a living wage so that junior enlisted with families didn't need to rely on food stamps would probably help.

        • Learn some history. In WW2, after the initial German successes they came up against the Russian winter, and Russian troops who were superbly equipped with cold weather clothing. The Russians had Diesel tanks whose engines could be safely heated before starting. German tanks used gasoline and tended to catch on fire when warmed up. The Germans never got their cold-weather logistics together, and they were ultimately defeated in the East.
      • by alen (225700)

        like all warlords, alexander used a lot of troops from conquered states. it's not like the same group of greeks marched through asia

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:33AM (#36597150)

      Impractical from a logistical standpoint and could not be secured efficiently against attack...

      For a moment there I thought you were talking about about taking 18 days to truck fuel over 800 miles on roads that are described as sometimes being not much more than "improved goat tracks"! But then I realized you are just imagining how impossible everything that is NOT being done is, rather than comparing it realistically to what IS being done.

      Remember, the current program has cost something like 1000 American lives due to fuel convoy attacks, and is a logistical nightmare. Pretending that greener alternatives are impossible because they are ALSO logistical nightmares that will cost American lives is an unimpressive and unconvincing form of argument.

      Although it's still more impressive than this completely incoherent quote from some clown who thinks that war is a good solution to the worlds's problems: '"Remember, we're talking about 30,000 troops," he says "I don't think that hundred-billion-dollar price tag should be the determining one."' What does that even mean?

    • And I guess someone might get shot for suggesting spraying millions of gallons of water per day into the air for evaporative cooling - in the desert.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Things are done like they are for a reason.

      Right. The energy-efficient alternative is big, fixed base camps. The American military (especially the Marines) tries to avoid being tied to fixed base camps, because a base camp doesn't project power - it just sits there and has to be defended. To accomplish anything useful, troops have to go where the enemy is and put bullets in them.

      Hence the need to air-condition tents in the middle of nowhere.

  • Does that mean our support for Egypt and Tunisia isn't even enough to run their air conditioners?
  • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:35PM (#36602788)
    From Lawrence Kaplan:

    "And anyway, it's not the war that's broken Washington's piggy bank," he adds, noting that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107 billion the Pentagon says it will spend in Afghanistan next year.

    It's like saying "all these fancy dinners we going to aren't breaking the piggy bank. Our mortgage payment is twice as much as we spent going to four-star restaurants last month!"

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