The U.S Army Wants To Go Green
The situation is not too bright for the U.S soldiers that are deployed in Afghanistan. They are in constant threat, and they need to watch their every move. More recently a new problem appeared, and that is the fact that the insurgents are constantly attacking their fuel supply convoys. They rely on that fuel, and in most of the times, the fuel does not reach their destination.
Because of this problem, the U.S Military is thinking about relying on green energy instead of the fossil fuels. They have done the first move last week, when a Marine company from California arrived in Afghanistan with equipment suitable for collecting green energy. The trucks contained solar panels which could be folded into boxes, energy-conserving lights, solar tent shields, solar computer chargers, and so on. The 150 Marines of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, will be the first one that will have the possibility of using the new technology. This will be the first time when renewable energy will be used in the combat zone, as prior to this, all the equipments and the vehicles were using diesel and kerosene-based fuels.
It has been proposed for a very long time now for the introduction of the renewable energy into the United States of America at a much higher level. The energy bill suggested by the Congress has not been accepted, as I am surely that you know, the Unites States of America is suffering from a very serious financial crisis. The Military has received a different treatment though, as in their case, the renewable energy has been introduced without any comments. Many of the wars in which the country has participated have been located in very hostile areas. In most of the cases, the fossil fuels which were extremely important were very difficult to acquire, and because of it, the soldiers were put in much danger.
The renewable energy has become cheaper in the latest period of time, and it has become obvious that the exchange will be made. Currently, the renewable energy sources represent a very small source of the power which is used by the U.S Army, but in the future things will change. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the convoys which transport fuel have been attacked numerous times. They are a very easy target, so the insurgents took advantage of it. On Monday, the oil tankers which carried fuel for NATO were set on fire in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It has been estimated that for every 24 fuel convoys set in Iraq and Afghanistan, one soldier lost his life. Ray Mabus, the Navy secretary and a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, stated that the main reason for the change is the fact that the green energy sources are practical.
He stated that he hopes that by 2020, 50 percent of the energy used by the entire armed forces of the United States of America will come from renewable energy sources. He stated that the main thing which is currently imported in Afghanistan is the fossil fuels. The soldiers have to constantly guard it, and because of it, he feels that they are not as effective as they should be. He also believes that the renewable energy sources could mean a way of avoiding certain conflicts. The country usually got the fuel from various areas, and in most of the cases, the areas have been contested by other countries as well, which could have led to certain conflicts.
There are cases when 80 percent of the load which is introduced in Afghanistan, is represented by the fossil fuels. The price for the gas is not too expensive, as the military buys a gallon with a little more than $1. However, the process of sending that gallon of gas into Afghanistan might cost as much as $400. Like I said, there are many cases when the gas does not reach its destination, and that means that tens of thousands of dollars are lost in a single shipment. Col. Robert Charette Jr., director of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, stated that he is very optimistic that the green equipment which the Company I uses, will prove to be very efficient, and that the military corpse will be able to do its job which great effectiveness.
The main benefit of the army is the fact that they can simply use the green energy whenever they want. Unlike the state, which has to wait for laws and regulations to be accepted, the military can simply order the green equipment. They have the money to do it, so there should be no reasons not to do it. The U.S.S. Makin Island was introduced last year by the Navy, and it is unique, as it is the first hybrid vessel to be used by a military force. It performed a voyage from Mississippi to San Diego, and it saved 900,000 gallons of fuel, thanks to the fact that it runs on electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Air Force stated that they want their entire fleet to run on biofuels by the end of 2011, and they already have airplanes that run on both fuels and biofuels. The biofuel can prove to be very effective, as it can be used anywhere where the raw materials required for it can be found, including the battlefield.
Richard Zilmer was the first one to suggest the green energy sources instead of the fossil fuels. He was a major general in Iraq in 2006, and he realized that lots of lives could be saved if the army would make this change. The fossil fuels which are transported to the bases from Afghanistan are first sent to Karachi, Pakistan. From there, the fuel is placed into convoys consisting of 50 to 70 vehicles, which have the task of delivering the fuel to the main bases. If the green energy would be used, then the costs would be reduced very much. The same thing would happen with the planes and with the ships, if they would run on alternative energy.
All the equipment which was sent to the Company I, cost about $50,000. Some would say that the fuel is cheaper, because a diesel generator costs about $5,000. However the costs of sending the fuel into the country are very high. This summer, green energy was used to power up the equipment from a camp for a whole week, but it could not power up the surveillance system. Some work is still required, but the experts are confident that a time when all the equipment used by the military will be green, will come.11