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US Military Orders Less Dependence On Fossil Fuel 317

Posted by timothy
from the less-blood-for-oil dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that it can cost hundreds of dollars to get each gallon of traditional fuel to forward base camps in Afghanistan, so with enemy fighters increasingly attacking American fuel supply convoys crossing the Khyber Pass from Pakistan, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels. 'Fossil fuel is the No. 1 thing we import to Afghanistan,' says Ray Mabus, the Navy secretary, 'and guarding that fuel is keeping the troops from doing what they were sent there to do, to fight or engage local people.' The 150 Marines of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, will be the first to take renewable technology into a battle zone, bringing portable solar panels that fold up into boxes; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers and communications equipment replacing diesel and kerosene-based fuels that would ordinarily generate power to run their encampment."
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US Military Orders Less Dependence On Fossil Fuel

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  • Re:Nuclear Power! (Score:3, Informative)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @08:15AM (#33807074)

    You do know what FOB stands for, right?

    Just in case you don't FOB stands for Forward Operations Base. It is a small, "tip of the spear" base, usually about the footprint of your average American home. It's walls, if it has them, are often dirt, wood and sandbag affairs, and they frequently take advantage of local terrain for defense.

    FOBs are NOT the large "tent city" affairs that you see on the news reports.

  • Re:Nuclear Power! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @08:32AM (#33807244) Homepage

    You misunderstand how these bases work. We aren't trying to hide; this isn't a conventional war. We want people to be able to come to the FOBs and report incidents, sell wares, in some cases even go to work (we often work with locals for everything from translators to building contracts, at least we did in Iraq). The FOBS are well guarded of course, you can't just walk in, but they aren't the traditional camp under camo nets. Indeed all the camo nets I ever saw setup were there to provide shade in places like motor pools, not hide anything. Your point would be valid for special ops units and such, but not for the vast majority of troops, at least not in these wars.

  • Re:Nuclear Power! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @08:46AM (#33807412) Homepage

    Please. I spent a year in Iraq. The largest FOBs are the size of cities, you don't "hide" anything. You're right that this wouldn't be ideal for a platoon or company sized base camp, but for division or even brigade HQ it's perfectly reasonable. Even with the current focus on small units doing "on the ground" patrols, the majority of troops live and work inside the large super-FOBs. Nothing of importance is kept near enough to the walls to allow small arms fire to get close to it, and in the (unlikely, thankfully these guys are universally awful at indirect fire) event of a mortar strike, a few broken solar panels are the least of your worries. You could have stuck a *solar farm* in the middle of Camp Victory, and probably saved a fortune over the noisy and annoying (but I must admit reliable) static generators.

    By the way... the noisy and annoying generators we did have? Just as vulnerable as solar panels to small arms or indirect fire, just as shiny (they were commercial jobs and most of them were bright white), and several times noisier (to better give away their positions)... I never even heard of one getting hit. We aren't talking about the little 15KW tactical generators when we're talking about power to middle and large sized FOBs. We're talking about commercial jobs the size of a room.

  • Re:Nuclear Power! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @09:08AM (#33807712) Homepage

    "FOB" is a generic term for all of our bases "over there". The largest base in Iraq, Camp Victory, is the size of a midsized American city and is divided into a few "FOBs". They're essentially just areas owned by a specific command, you can drive from one end of Victory to the other without across all the FOBs in perfect safety (beyond a highly unlikely indirect fire attack). There are smaller, company or battalion controlled, FOBs but most of our people are in the larger ones.

  • Re:Nuclear Power! (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @09:20AM (#33807874) Homepage

    I was the battalion communications officer for a field artillery unit. Since we were largely underutilized in our primary function (never had more than a platoon worth of guns active at a time), we were primarily providing the vast majority of the gate security for Camp Victory. The types of reactors you're talking about wouldn't even begin to power Camp Victory. It was the size of a city, and had dozens if not hundreds of 1500KW or better generators powering it.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:35AM (#33809078)

    Berlin would have fallen with or without the USA - it was only a question of who it fell too; the Soviets, the Allies or Both (as happened).

    It happened only because of US involvement requiring Germany to split between two fronts, which is completely ignoring the pressures placed elsewhere because of directly US involvement.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @11:56AM (#33811332) Homepage Journal

    Um. The Mexican-American war was also a case where we "went batshit insane and started attacking for little to no reason" -- or rather, the reason was clear, but it certainly wasn't self-defense. And of course there was the entire period of the Indian Wars. We may not have had a military-industrial complex to push us into fighting, but plain old imperial ambition of the "we want this land and we're going to take it" variety did the trick.

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud