Army green no longer only refers to the uniforms worn by our ground soldiers. In recent years, the Department of Defense has been furiously working on ways to lower the military’s carbon footprint. Even if not for the specific reason to help the environment and no matter what the driving force is, most military personnel would agree that lowering our dependence on foreign oil needs to be a top priority.
In a report released by the Pentagon, the United States military used nearly 340,000 barrels of oil each day and in 2006 spent over $13 billion on energy costs. The report also speaks to how costly, wasteful, and dangerous for our troops it is to transfer the oil needed to battlefields. Just like our whole country, the military would benefit from having better fuel economy.
The military is making other efforts to “go green” as well. In addition to lowering fuel use and fuel-related costs they are exploring the many alternative energy options available. Some examples of how the military is using renewable energies is through powering both military bases and individual soldiers’ equipment which helps make their load much more manageable. All branches of our armed forces are working to improve their green efforts and in 2010, the government allocated $2.7 billion to help the military increase energy efficiency.
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy said in a recent press conference that the Navy hopes to cut their fuel consumption in half by 2015 and by 2020 half of all energy used by the Navy will be from a renewable and alternative power source. If you think these seem like unreasonable goals, keep in mind that in 1999 before nuclear-powered carriers existed, an aircraft carrier would burn through 264 gallons of fuel a second.
A separate report out of the Pentagon states that on facilities worldwide, including permanent bases, the Army has limited its water consumption by over 30% and its energy consumption by just over 10% since 2004. Army officials have even started thinking about including hybrid vehicles on battlefields to reduce fuel consumption and the need for convoys to deliver fuel.
Our airborne personnel are also joining the effort and just completed a 140-acre solar farm outside of Las Vegas. They’re also testing planes and other aircrafts with a blend of manmade fuels created from natural gas and conventional oil. If they can successfully run their aircrafts on these synthetic fuels, they would greatly reduce dependence on foreign fuel.
The Marine Corps is following suit with hopes of reducing overall energy consumption by 2025. They hope to provide their marines with equipment that runs on solar power to reduce the need for the fuel convoys to supply their generators as well.
When considered all together, it seems more important for the military more than anyone to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Some of the biggest consumers of natural resources, they also have the monetary and brainpower resources to improve their energy efficiency. With money dedicated to this effort and helping improve the lives of active duty members through services and programs like veteran home loans, the government maintains its practice of allocating a huge percentage of national funds to the military. The least the military needs to do is reduce its overall energy consumption to help this nation reach energy reduction goals and to provide an example for militaries across the world.