A Nimbler, More Energy-Efficient Marine Corps
June 6, 2011
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL of the New York Times:The military hopes that by relying less on fossil fuels, troops will be more speedily deployed and less vulnerable to attacks. Last fall militants in Pakistan set fire to tankers supplying oil to NATO and American troops, including the one above, which was passing through Rawalpindi, Pakistan.Associated PressThe military hopes that by relying less on fossil fuels, troops will be more speedily deployed and less vulnerable to attacks. Last fall militants in Pakistan set fire to tankers supplying oil to NATO and American troops, including the one above, in the city of Rawalpindi.
Last year I wrote about how American troops sent into conflict zones were relying more on renewable energy and green products. In places like Afghanistan, fuel supply routes are extremely vulnerable to attacks, putting soldiers at risk when their cargo includes oil, diesel or kerosene-based fossil fuels.
What is more, regiments tethered to such fuels are less nimble. Soldiers assigned to guard fuel trucks are not available for other tasks.
Now the Marine Corps plans to expand the deployment of green technologies that would be useful on the battlefield. “The goal is to make the Marines a more effective fighting force and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, transported water, and battery logistics,” said Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commander of the Second Marine Division. “We will significantly increase our energy efficiency on the battlefield and in doing so reduce our reliance on logistics convoys.”
Some of the innovations deployed include a solar-powered generator and LED lighting.
There are over 100 forward operating bases in Afghanistan, each of which needs over 300 gallons of diesel fuel daily. Fuel is used to generate electricity and heat as well as to power vehicles, so if the Marines can cut that requirement by even 10 or 20 percent, far fewer convoys will be at risk.
Last year Marine officers told me that they spend hundreds of dollars just getting a gallon of fuel to a forward operating base. A penny saved is a penny earned.