| Effective but efficient? U.S soldiers from 4th Infantry Division during a November patrol in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
The military is often on the cutting edge of energy development, testing out ways to make a gallon of gas or a battery last a bit longer on remote battle fields. Solar energy technology, for example, has been driven in the past largely by the need for Navy and Air Force satellites to remain in constant service for years.
But a new study by Deloitte says changes in the way wars are fought is undermining that efficiency effort.
“Despite the improved efficiency of vehicles, ships and aircraft, and the use of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, there has been a 175 percent increase in gallons of fuel used per day, per United States soldier during wartime since the Vietnam conflict, according to the Deloitte report “Energy Security – America’s Best Defense.”
The culprit, says Tom Captain, vice chairman of Deloitte’s global and U.S. Aerospace & Defense group, is the increased mechanization of equipment, “the expeditionary nature of conflict requiring mobility over long distances and the rugged terrain and irregular nature of recent conflicts.”
More fuel convoys mean more exposure of troops and equipment to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which could lead to a 124 percent in casualties in the Afghan conflict through 2014 if the war be prosecuted with a similar profile to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the report says.
The Deloitte report echoes a number of Department of Defense energy security plans such as:
• Using common biofuels for aircraft and large horsepower engines.
• Moving to hybrid/electrical/biofuel vehicles and equipment.
• Doing more with solar and energy storage. “Affordable, durable and lightweight solar technology on permanent and temporary structures, including tents, should be commonplace. Electric energy storage technology innovation should be pursued vigorously.”
• Engine/propulsion technology improvements.