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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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  • Interesting. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker ( 1938262 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:28AM (#36596222)

    Funny how being green and efficient is considered a weakness instead of a strength.

    A gallon of fuel you dont need to use, is one you dont need to carry or convoy in.

  • by drachenfyre ( 550754 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:31AM (#36596252) Homepage

    You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

  • Re:Necessary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:34AM (#36596302)

    Acknowledged that it is the cost of doing business.

    It is too much $$, the United States is not here to spread democracy among those assholes.

    Here is my pullout plan:

    1. Pack everyone and everything up
    2. Leave.

  • Re:Solar Power? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:49AM (#36596528)

    What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

    Probably bureaucracy and lack of familiarity and/or comfort with the technology in question.

    It take that military a long, long time to change things. They go through conceptual processes, design processes, review processes, redesign processes, certification processes, and that's for things that get developed quickly and that officers want. When officers don't want something or don't understand the nature of the technology, or when they don't think their enlistees can manage the tech, things go a lot slower.

    This is partially why the military tends to look for variants on an existing theme. M4 versus M16. All of the versions of the M72. It's much easier to go with the same or with similar. Throwing in a whole new technology, at least as far as their usage, is not nearly as easy for training or simplicity.

    Specifically for solar panels, keep in mind that they're fragile, and it wouldn't take much (oh, like a single bullet) to destroy a fairly sizable panel. It would be easy for an enemy, with a few well-placed shots from an iron-sights sniper rifle, to destroy all of the solar panels and thus to destroy all of the cooling. If they're trucking in fuel for things that can't solar-power anyway, it makes sense, to them, to continue to truck that much more fuel in for everything else that uses power.

    I don't necessarily agree, and I think that with effort a certain degree of ruggedization of solar panels should be achievable, but right now they're not interested, and that'll be that.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:50AM (#36596552)
    We spend more in cooling air than exploring outer space ... Well done, humanity ... /ironic
  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:55AM (#36596614) Homepage

    Well, air-con isn't very energy efficient. So you're getting a shed-load of energy from somewhere. If you're talking entire camps hooked up, that's dozens KW's of capacity all day long, every day. A/C is actually quite a substantial chunk of any business's electrical cost that has it installed.

    Now if you are indeed running mobile sites via fuel-based generators, that's a shed-load of inefficiency and cost again there. Ever run a petrol- or diesel-generator? Works out about 5-10 times more expensive than grid electric. Not to mention that if you're without it even for an hour, the A/C has to "warm-start" and pull a ton more energy than normal.

    Now you're in a "hostile" country, you can't plug into the grid, and your fuel has to be DRIVEN in, using more fuel, in batches that will last you, say, a week at a time - it will form quite a significant chunk of your transport to move that much fuel around. Loading, movement, weight, unloading, fuelling, etc. That's a lot of work to cause, just for a liquid only intended to cool tents (and I imagine actual fuel costs for transport are a fraction of what would be used in A/C).

    Add in losses, thefts, inefficiencies, the fact that fuel in those countries probably hasn't been bought at the local petrol station (but, ironically, comes from oil shipped from the Middle East to the US only to be refined and then shipped back again at great expense under military escort), that you're cooling a tent (the stupidest thing I ever heard), that the equipment use is probably unmonitored (so nobody is really aware if one unit is on all day, every day for no reason), etc. etc. and I can quite believe it.

    Soon, this will become another one of those "and the Russians used a pencil" sayings - I bet every other military just has their soldiers adapt to the same conditions as the people they are fighting - cheaper, more sensible, more efficient and a lot greater sense.

  • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:24AM (#36597024)

    Money spent in a war is mostly wasted as the bulk of the money is invested into something with zero return. A small percentage trickles back in to the private sector via private sector purchases and services, but the bulk of the money is paying men/women to stand around shooting at people or blowing things up.

    If you instead dumped that money into social services, even if largely abused, it would at least be invested directly back into the economy and we would retain nearly all of that money in some form.

    When in college a few years back, the current estimated cost of 3 year of war would have paid for 10 years of nation wide free college AND health care. It's insane. Could you imagine a more educated and healthy populace? GDP would skyrocket after a few generations. Instead we're off fighting religious wars.

    Nothing against our proud men and women serving abroad, just something against our government.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:33AM (#36597150)

    Impractical from a logistical standpoint and could not be secured efficiently against attack...

    For a moment there I thought you were talking about about taking 18 days to truck fuel over 800 miles on roads that are described as sometimes being not much more than "improved goat tracks"! But then I realized you are just imagining how impossible everything that is NOT being done is, rather than comparing it realistically to what IS being done.

    Remember, the current program has cost something like 1000 American lives due to fuel convoy attacks, and is a logistical nightmare. Pretending that greener alternatives are impossible because they are ALSO logistical nightmares that will cost American lives is an unimpressive and unconvincing form of argument.

    Although it's still more impressive than this completely incoherent quote from some clown who thinks that war is a good solution to the worlds's problems: '"Remember, we're talking about 30,000 troops," he says "I don't think that hundred-billion-dollar price tag should be the determining one."' What does that even mean?

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @10:55AM (#36597438)
    Which is why the US auto industry came close to disappearing. The Japanese, Korean and European car makers believe in continuous development, and they fixed things like high fuel consumption and poor quality before US car makers perceived them as being broken. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" only works if you have a very market-oriented view of what "broke" means.

    Nowadays Germany turns out passenger cars in volume with both supercharging and turbocharging for light weight and high efficiency, and Japan turns out reliable, efficient hybrid power trains. The US is having to play copy and catch up.

    As for your sig, that is nonsense. If you live in a city, how do you get food, water and shelter? You have to pay. If you think that the water companies and landlords don't use coercion, then you probably think the Tea Party is a rational and progressive political movement.

  • by Toze ( 1668155 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @11:20AM (#36597756)
    Many of the grunts have to deal with practical problems that officers do not, and find immediately workable solutions because there are millions of them, and they share tricks they figure out. It's a small free market of ideas, so good ideas frequently spread quickly. Of course, so do bad ones.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @11:29AM (#36597868) Homepage

    Tinfoil and/or drywall burns?

    If they had any brains they'd do what the people who live in hot countries do - dig holes and live underground. They'd be safer from mortars, too.

  • by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @11:42AM (#36598042)

    Our soldiers are over there dick-waving because some guys who live in a desert were able to make us scared of them. I'm yet to be convinced that it's doing anything for our freedoms, other than making more Arabs mad and breeding the next generation of terrorists.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @12:28PM (#36598884)

    As a former member of the military I can tell you that they do spend that much money (well maybe not that much but close) on these things. The reason why is that the military has EXTREMELY high standards and has very detailed specifications that must be met for each and every piece of equipment that goes into active duty.

    For example, I was flight crew on the E3 AWACS and had to go thru several rounds of maintenance and rebuilds of the airframe and avionics (don't forget the powerplants) and to be able to maintain an air frame over a 30-40 year lifespan, with all of it's components, sub-systems and redundancies requires that the manufacturer's design, testing and implementation process be incredibly exhaustive. On top of all of this, these machines are run by children. Remember the vast majority of operators of this type of equipment are under the age of 21. You haven't seen documentation and training unless you've been in the military. It is thorough, exhaustive and focused.

    Now I don't excuse the cost overruns and I realize that many military programs have a lot of waste in them, but just imagine if you had to build a software/hardware system that could not fail, had well defined interfaces and had the ultimate pluggable component system, runs in any environment (hot, cold, freezing, boiling, extreme altitude, etc.), was upgradeable and repairable while running, was fully redundant times 3, could withstand an EMP pulse, internally generated enough power to run an airborne radar system that, while on the ground, could generate enough power to detonate fuel in a vehicle within a 30-40 yard radius or literally burn you alive, could refuel while in the air, house 25-30 people safely, fly at subsonic speeds and be maintained by children just out of high-school.

    It is non-trivial to say the least. The complexity, attention to detail and completeness dwarfs anything I have ever seen in the civilian world. That's why it costs so much damn money for military equipment.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @03:17PM (#36602464) Homepage

    Well; also, factor in the cost of the salaries of the accountants and filing clerks that track the logistical operations to make sure all of that fuel is supplied, especially to critical ops locations like field hospitals, and command centers where shelters MUST remain cool 24x7. This is why hammers cost $200. And this is why wars like this one, in particular, are particularly futile, as far as economic ventures go. It is an extremely cost-inefficient way to jack up someone's ego.

    We could have saved ourselves hundreds of billions by hiring the best doctors in the world to surgically attach a giant horse penis to George Bush, thus resolving his psychological inadequacy issues, without all the waste and bloodshed.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead