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Marines in Afghanistan launch first war zone energy audit

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Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The US Marines Corps ordered the first ever energy audit in a war zone today to 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.

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 more efficient. We have got to be.”

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 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. 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.

If you read my posts on a regular basis, you know I’m not surprised by the U.S. Marines beating everyone else to an advanced analysis, a new and useful practice.

It goes back to leadership in place back before World War 2 – and a tradition maintained through the postwar Civil Rights Movement – to the latest requirements of education either on the way in or before your butt is allowed back out into the general public.

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Written by Ed Campbell

August 14, 2009 at 6:00 am

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