U.S. Military pushes hard for alternative sources of fuel on the battlefront and back home.

Solar panels brought to Afghanistan are put the scorching desert sun to good use. (Courtesy of NYT)

In the remote places of the world, where some of the most intense fighting occurs, it becomes very difficult to supply forces with a steady stream of fuel to power vehicles and machinery. It can often be dangerous to send convoys across these barren regions for they may be attacked. So the military has ordered that it becomes less dominant on fossil fuels and begin harnessing energy that is abundant where they are located, most of all solar energy, and even biofuel.

Advancements in technology have a lot to do with what goes on in the military. Some of the greatest have been purely to gain advantage in a war situation,but have ended up having huge impacts in the public sector. NPR did a story on how the U.S. Navy has been finding ways to decrease their use of fossil fuels, particularly diesel, which helps to alleviate potential dangers on the battlefield and may bore a path through the dilemmas we have facing new fuel sources back home for the public.

NPR – The Military Goes Green For An Edge On The Battlefield December 3, 2010

Oil tanker attacked in Afghanistan (Courtesy of 2nd Lt. Jeff Hall)

The New York Times also wrote an article in October 2010 discussing the military’s determined push for less reliability on fossil fuels. The U.S. Navy spent $100 million into solar energy equipment on their bases.The military is forced to find ways around limited supplies of fossil fuel and it can be extremely dangerous for soldiers guarding fuel transports. They’d rather have efforts spent fighting and keeping peace rather than have men and women die protecting fuel sources.

New York Times – U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels October 4, 2010


Here are two quotes from NPR’s story that explain the necessity to move toward the production of other types of energy that might lead to them being implemented to a greater degree back home.

Brigadier General STEVE ANDERSON: I mean, there’s some tremendous things that we could do over there and it all starts, I think, with simply looking at reducing our energy requirements and getting trucks off the road. We’ve had over 1,000 Americans killed moving fuel – 1,000 Americans since the war began.

I just talked to the Supreme Fuel, which is the primary contractor in Afghanistan. They lost 47 contractors, truck drivers, killed in the last month. You know, we’re spilling so much blood over there and it’s all because I think we’re moving fuel that we wouldn’t need if we were requiring energy efficient structures.

Secretary RAY MABUS (U.S. Navy): And we should design things to be energy efficient for a couple of reasons. One is strategic because we simply buy too much energy from potentially volatile sources on Earth. But the other is tactical, that the general can state(ph) to very clearly. You know, to get a gallon of gasoline to a frontline unit in Afghanistan – and gasoline is what we import the most into Afghanistan – is very expensive.

And it’s costly in other ways. The Army did a study a little while ago that said for every 24 convoys coming into Afghanistan, we lose a soldier or a Marine, killed or wounded guarding those convoys. Plus, it takes Marines and soldiers away from doing what they need to do, which is fight and engage and rebuild. Guarding these convoys, because we haven’t designed the equipment from the ground up, or because we’re not producing energy on site in a different way, just costs us in lots of different ways.

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