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The Military Government Technology

Among the Costs of War: $20B In Air Conditioning 409

TechkNighT_1337 submitted one of the most well spun little news nuggets I've read in awhile: "The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion. That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia."
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Among the Costs of War: $20B In Air Conditioning

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  • by MrQuacker ( 1938262 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:38AM (#36596354)

    Yes, thats the point. Thats why they now spray foam on them. Going from none to foam reduces energy use by 92%.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:39AM (#36596386) Homepage

    They are better than that. Tents typically are covered with the "space blankets" and then covered with another tent. to cover the space blanket. it makes a MAJOR difference as the reflective mylar will reflect 90% of the heat back out.

    Now expecting our military to have the brains to do that..... nope... the guys on the ground doing it themselves? yes, many of the grunts are far smarter than the officers.

  • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:45AM (#36596474)

    ...Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107 billion the Pentagon says it will spend in Afghanistan next year.

    So of the $107 billion we will spend in Afghanistan, $20.2 billion of it is for air conditioning? Seriously, almost 20% of our war cost?

    But the devil is in the details. The calculation takes into consideration all sorts of services that are not solely used for air conditioning. Escort, command and control, medevac support...all are resources that support multiple purposes and not just creature comforts for soldiers. That would be like me saying the annual cost of maintaining my vehicle includes the band-aids I keep in the medicine chest because I occasionally scrape my knuckles loosening the drain plug.

    In other words, we do not spend $20 billion on air conditioning. Instead, the cost of every resource that has any tangential effect on air conditioning has a combined cost of $20 billion. Wake me up when NPR posts some information that is actually useful.

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:58AM (#36596654) Journal

    Things are done like they are for a reason.

    The tents are air conditioned with diesel-powered ECUs because people get heat related illnesses when they are not. They aren't kept at 68 degrees F - more like 80-85, but it's better than 105-130F outside. The ECUs also act as heaters in mountainous environments - Afghanistan, for one.

    A TOC (command post) is a tent complex surrounded by concrete barriers and/or concertina wire. It's powered by generators. The wire and barriers are to stop potshots from firearms and to offer some protection against mortars/grenades/rockets. The wire isn't intended to harm, it mostly sticks to your skin and clothing and prevents you from going inside the post. The generators are used because they fit inside the perimeter.

    Reflective blankets aren't used because the reflective blankets stick out like a sore thumb from the air, or the ground.

    Insulation is not sprayed on the tents because they, you know, move...

    Solar panels - envision putting a solar panel outside the perimeter. Envision carrying around solar panels and setting them up where you operate. Impractical from a logistical standpoint and could not be secured efficiently against attack without extending the perimeter to perhaps double or triple the circumference, with all the associated costs in additional manning for force protection. A nonstarter.

    The same arguments apply to LSA - the places soldiers live - but with some modification. Some are fixed and might be amenable to alternative power sources, but the perimeter guard issue rears its head again. You can't beat generators for portability.

  • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:07AM (#36596780) Journal
    This is the major reason why the military has been investing heavily in green tech. A gallon of diesel fuel at the front lines in Afghanistan costs the military something like $400 because it first needs to be shipped in-country, then trucked through hostile territory on roads, and sometimes lashed to a mule and packed in. Plus, supply convoys are ripe targets - casualties due to roadside bombs these days are comparable, if not higher, than actual combat. The military realized this a couple of years ago, looking at the single-walled canvas tents they are cooling with A/C run from diesel generators in a 110 F desert. Being one of the biggest users of, well, everything in this world, their economies of scale and opportunities for savings at home and in theater are huge. They have [] been [] working [] on it [], but it's a huge infrastructure and logistical change to undertake. If anything, it should give us all pause to realize how big a job the rest of the world will have to change our own infrastructure and habits to become more efficient.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:14AM (#36596878)

    If those are space-hammers and space-toilets, then yes... I do think they do.

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @12:09PM (#36598550) Homepage Journal

    Reading, it's fundamental! NPR pointed out that the $20B per year is for Iraq AND Afghanistan. Please add the cost of the Iraq war to the $107B before dividing the $20B figure by it to come to a percentage of total cost. Then, you will arrive at the actual percentage of the war cost spent on air conditioning (*based on the criteria for this report.) It's also worth noting that this figure came from none other than Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq, Steven Anderson. So no, this isn't a "liberally biased anti-war puff piece" like the NPR detractors would have you believe; this is a figure from someone very high up *inside the Defense Department*.

    Or, you can turn off NPR and go back to being told what to think by some other news outlet. Your choice.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson