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Sep 12

Written by: Diana West
Saturday, September 12, 2009 6:39 PM 


I have found a new definition of insanity, and it is not in the Journal of Psychiatric Medicine.

It is in a story that ran last month in The Guardian (UK) newspaper, and it was brought to my attention by a mother of Marines who is outraged by the Afghanistan ROEs. The story, which is in the insult-to-injury department,  describes a sickness so profound, so dangerous that I think in order to save these nuts from hurting anyone else or themselves, we will need to activate an urgent, bigtime "intervention" -- send in the Marines or something.

Oh, wait a minute. It is the Marines themselves who are subject to this insanity, or at least at least one Marine is -- Marine Commandant James T. Conway. Last month, as Marines were digging into their self-sacrificing "hearts and minds" war zone in Helmand Province, Gen. Conway was sounding off at conference in a Washington hotel on  ... ways to reduce the Marines' carbon footprint in Afghanistan.

It leaves one gasping for breath. The Guardian reports:

The US Marines Corps ordered the first ever energy audit in a war zone todayto try to reduce the enormous fuel costs of keeping troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

General James T Conway, the Marines Corps Commandant, said he wanted a team of energy experts in place in Afghanistan by the end of the month to find ways to cut back on the fuel bills for the 10,000 strong marine contingent.

This man needs help and fast -- for the sake of our Marines.

US marines in Afghanistan run through some 800,000 gallons of fuel a day. That's a higher burn rate than during an initial invasion, and reflects the logistical challenges of running counter-insurgency and other operations in the extreme weather conditions of Afghanistan.

"We need to understand where the fuel goes," Conway told a Marines Corps energy summit today. "The largest growing demand on the battlefield today is for electricity and how we create that."

He added: "We are going to be more efficient. We have got to be."

This is insanity. By definition. All we need to complete this scene of total breakdown is a butterfly net. Gen. Conway's ostensibly running a war, with men in the field of battle under rotten conditions, and he's worried about ... going green?

Conway's announcement — and the summit itself, which is the first of its kind — were seen yesterday as a dramatic shift in the US military's approach to energy consumption and climate change.

The reporter needs help, too.

The Pentagon began to acknowledge America's reliance on fossil fuels and climate change as a national security concern in 2002. A report from the Pentagon's military advisory board last May called on military bases to work to lower their carbon footprint.

I can think of a way to eliminate their carbon footprint -- leave.

A number of bases inside the US have begun to tap into renewable fuel sources including wind and solar energy. But the Marine Corps are the first service to try to put those policies into action on the battlefield.

Conway, who led the marine invasion of Iraq in 2003, said he was motivated by the high costs — as well as the risks to troops – of getting oil and water to combat zones. For land-locked Afghanistan, the nearest port at Karachi in Pakistan is more than 400 miles away from marine bases, and maintaining those long supply lines has become an increasingly dangerous proposition.

Which is why Gen. Vallely's "lily pads" make so much sense.

Some 80% of US military casualties in Afghanistan are due to improvised explosive devices (IEDS), and many of those placed in the path of supply convoys.

The costs of shipping water and fuel to the troops is also becoming unsustainable. The price of a gallon of petrol in a war zone can cost up to $100. "It is a shocking figure to compute what it costs by the time you pour that gallon of gas into a Humvee or an aircraft in the place you are operating," Conway said.

He said he was looking to his energy auditors to find ways of cutting back energy consumption at operating bases ....

Enter into this illness and understand: Gen. Conway is saying that if the marines use less fuel, they will be safer because fewer supply convoys will risk encounters with IEDs.

One immediate target of the auditors is likely to be climate control.

Boil them in summer and freeze them in winter; there's fuel efficiency for you.

Some 448,000 gallons alone are used to keep tents cool in the Afghan summer, where temperatures reach well over 40C, and warm in the winter, said Michael Boyd, an energy adviser to the Marine Corps.

The marines have been exploring ways to reduce that consumption by spraying tents with a foam coating.

Who wants to be air-cooled when you can be foam-coated?

"That's a huge saving and you are no longer putting trucks on those roads, and tanker drivers in harm's way and everyone else involved on the way," Boyd said.

Why, if Marines lower their fuel consumption enough, soon they won't need any ammunition at all ....


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