Military and Energy: Loyal Skeptics

This
week Marketplace airs a special series on the U.S. military and energy, and the
quest
to "unleash us from the tether of fuel."

Among the voices and perspectives from the series:

THE LOYAL SKEPTICS: Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson (Ret.)

For all the headlines about the military going green, Gen. Anderson remains unconvinced. As Army senior logistician in Iraq from 2006-2007, he argues military culture "does not embrace" energy efficiency. Until it does, he writes in a New York Times opinion piece, "more blood will be shed, billions of dollars will be wasted, our enemies
will have thousands of vulnerable fuel trucks for targets and our
commanders will continue to be distracted by the task of overseeing fuel
convoys."

From his interview with Marketplace:

Why all those military convoy trucks in Iraq? (listen to extended excerpt here):
About a third or so was moving fuel. And I said OK, what do we need that much fuel for? And my guys came
back to me and they said about two-thirds of the fuel is going to power
generation at our major installations. It's fuel to drive generators that are
producing electrical energy. To which I said well why do we need that much electrical
energy? And my guys looked at me like I
had an ear growing out of the top of my head and they said, 'Sir, because we are air
conditioning the desert. And that's when the light turned on for me. I realized, oh my god, that is so true. You had thousands of tents with five-ton air conditions at each end of the tent. And, of course, canvas has no insulating capability whatsoever."

On energy efficiency and the military (listen to the excerpt here):
"You have leaders that see the right thing and know what needs to happen, but they lack fortitude. They're too risk averse to actually take action to fix it. The military culture does not embrace the understanding that energy efficiency and military effectiveness are directly related. I once had a two-star general poke me in the chest and say 'Anderson, I don't give a damn about efficiency. All I care about is effectiveness.' To that I said, 'well sir, here's an effect for you: your soldiers are being killed because we're so inefficient husbanding our energy resources."

Another Pentagon critic: retired army colonel and blogger Dan Nolan. On energy, he's mentioned several times that "tactics are for amateurs. Logistics is for professionals." Indeed he's a logistics, details man. From his interview with Marketplace:

The Pentagon's new energy savings plan (listen to extended excerpt here):
"It was a very short document. Long on bumper stickers, short on substance.It had no goals. Well, it had very vague goals but it had no measurable objectives under those goals. It had no assignment of responsibility. It had no allocation of authority -- simply the ability to spend money, time and people. And it had no accountability."

Where energy/logistics officers fall in the military pecking order (listen to extended excerpt here):
"Part of the
problem is our culture. In the Air Force, the really cool guys are all the fighter
pilots. Those are the ones with the swagger. And if you fly a logistics aircraft,
you are called a trash hauler. In the Army, the senior leaderships are always
from the infantry, armor and the field artillery - those the swashbuckling
combat arms guys. Everybody else is a combat support ... they're always being placed in sort of a subordinate role."

   

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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