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The Hidden Cost of War: U.S. Military Spends $20 Billion a Year on Air Conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan

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"The Hidden Cost of War: U.S. Military Spends $20 Billion a Year on Air Conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan"

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Today, NPR just filed a stunner of a story: Air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan costs $20.2 billion annually, when factoring in the manpower and logistics to deliver fuel.

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.

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” [retired Brigadier General Steven] Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

In 2010, the US spent $165.1 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Research Service. This means roughly 12.2% of expenditures were on air conditioning.

Fuel is not only a budget breaker, it’s a logistical nightmare that can cost lives. Anderson, who manged operational logistics for Gen. David Patreaus in Iraq, explained the impacts of air conditioning on a commander:

“He literally has to stop his combat operations for two days every two weeks so he can go back and get his fuel. And when he’s gone, the enemy knows he’s gone, and they go right back to where they were before. He has to start his counter-insurgency operations right back at square one.”

The military has started to address the expensive, dangerous problem. An experimental roll-out of tents treated with polyurethane foam insulation took about 11,000 fuel trucks out of the combat zone. The tents cut energy use by up to 75% or more (especially when combined with efficient AC units).

http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/-images/2009/05/07/37396/size0-army.mil-37396-2009-05-11-080525.jpg

But a lot more will need to be done to save lives and money — including an acceptance of “green” technologies. In the NPR piece, Anderson says that some top commanders still haven’t embraced the needed changes.

In the article, Anderson emphasized the importance of “a simple policy signed by the secretary of defense — a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Despite the difficulties in enacting change throughout throughout military operations, the Department of Defense has begun to tried to become a leader in developing clean energy. For instance, The DOD set a goal of reducing petroleum use by 20 percent by 2015 by increasing use of biofuels and renewable electricity. DOD is currently on track to meet this goal, and has cut fleet-wide petroleum use by 6.6 percent since 2005.

Still, the military is dangerously hooked on fossil fuels. As this latest NPR story points out, that’s an extraordinarily expensive habit, both in both blood and treasure.

— Tyce Herrman

 

Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

taylorbarke

Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the desert.

June 27 at 4:18pm

James Meador

Can’t stand fight a war? Go to Cananda… oh wait, they are here with us… go to Mexico… wait, they have their own war going on too… just about every European nation is here in Afghanistan… Go to Antarctica…

June 29 at 3:03pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

War is not the answer. Diplomacy is way underfunded and underutilized.

June 30 at 9:22am

James Meador

Tell that to the Taliban. Tell that to Al Qai’da. Tell that to Ghadafi. Tell that to Hitler. You get the point.

“A smart man prepares for war but prays for peace because he knows that it is his blood that will be shed for the price of freedom.”

June 30 at 2:22pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

With appropriate diplomacy those folks might not have come to power in the first place. A smart man would look within to see if he did anything to antagonize them and look for methods to defuse the situation. Look up the history and you will find that Dick Cheney was instrumental for Saddum Husane’s empowerment. American foreign policy in the fifties for installing the Shah of Iran which was the catalyst for the rise of the very same Taliban. Exploitation of a people will ultimately lead to rebellion. If your quest for “Freedom” implies that other go without, be it food, water, resources, health care, livable life support systems enhanced by stable climate, and the future for you and your children are in peril, then you indeed should prepare for war for you will surely have it.

June 30 at 5:15pm

James Meador

You have to provide some clarification of how in the heck the Shah in Iran contributed to the rise of the Taliban? How did the Shah in Iran, who was a Shi’a as is most of the Iranian population, contributed to the rise of a Sunni, Pashtun movement in Afghanistan? I am dumbfounded on that one. I have studied Afghanistan for years now, including the history of Afghanistan through the many occupations, the peaceful era under King Zahir Shah, the Soviet occupation and the mujaheddin fighters who fought against them, and the rise of the Taliban following the void of any institutional governance once the Soviet forces withdrew. No where in that history have I found anything that links the Shah in Iran to the rise of the Taliban.

July 5 at 4:07pm

Peter S. Mizla

amazing- but then again why are we still there?

June 27 at 4:39pm

Thomas Jamison

We have been there for 10 years and the military is just NOW beginning to experiment with insulating the tents? (Face palm)

June 27 at 4:42pm

Richard Brenne

Maybe to save money on AC we should invade Greenland or Alaska instead…

· June 27 at 4:47pm

Berkley Carter Mills

i say go to alaska ;;and get the # 2 terriorist !!

June 28 at 5:37pm

Richard Brenne

I wonder what we would’ve saved if every tent was instead a yurt dug into the earth to take advantage of the tremendous cooling (and heating) advantages. Also mortar attacks would need to be a direct hit through the roof rather than anywhere within 50 yards to kill and injure our soldiers.

And while we were at it, how about infinitely more on-the-ground intelligence and Special Forces responding to that intelligence as happened with the Bin Laden raid only 10 years late?

And how about no optional or family wars? That 3 trillion could’ve come in handy to rebuild our own nation green instead of red.

June 29 at 2:05am

James Meador

“more on-the-ground intelligence and Special Forces responding to that intelligence”

So you think that we can kill our way out of a COIN? Ask a Russian how well that worked for them.

June 29 at 3:58pm

Richard Brenne

I did when I lived in Russia. We saw amputee soldiers from Afghanistan and Chechnya when we rode the subway every day. As you imply, it didn’t work out for them or us or the English or Alexander in Afghanistan well at all.

I didn’t support either war but the public was clamoring for Bin Laden (perhaps rightly) and a decade’s worth of bombs including dead wedding parties didn’t deliver that. The use of Special Forces could be debated, but I don’t see how more on-the-ground intelligence would be a bad thing, especially relative to the unnecessary three trillion in both wars we’ve spent.

What is a COIN? And if you’re in a position to share an Air Force perspective I’d love to hear it. I took one Air Force ROTC class at UCLA (I needed a two-credit class) about Vietnam and the Captain teaching it was saying it’d all been one serious mistake – that was 1978, three years after the war ended. What do you suppose the military’s most educated perspective on these wars will be three years after they end? And I’m not in favor of killing my way out of anything unless absolutely, absolutely necessary – as a working screenwriter I never had war, guns, violence or revenge solve anything, which is probably why I’m mostly writing about climate change now.

June 30 at 4:12am

James Meador

I am not no position to speak on behalf of the Air Force. If you want their take on the war then they have their own Facebook account that I am sure is full of PR bullet points.

Now as to your question. COIN in the common acronym for Counter-Insurgency. You don’t play checkers with a chess master. To truly understand COIN we must first define an insurgent. An insurgent is not a terrorist as terrorist only have ambitions of bringing awareness to their cause with the hopes of effecting some soft of change, be that anti-Zionism or eco-terrorism. The bottom line is that they want to change the beliefs of the powers that be, if only minutely. An insurgent has the sole goal of overthrowing the established government of its nation. So to be the Counter-Insurgent, that then means that the established government utilizes its resources to fight against this uprising while also addressing the grievances of its population that spawned the conditions for the insurgency to begin in the first place. When another nation helps a host nation fight a COIN, they are conducting Foreign Internal Defense (FID).

To apply this model to Afghanistan, the US, and it’s NATO allies, toppled the established government of Afghanistan. Since there was no established government, the US & NATO fill that void until the new (so to speak) Afghan government is capable of fending for itself in the Counter-Insurgent role and then we fall back to the FID role. We are in that transition point in many places, but in others there is still lots of governance development that needs to happen over the next year to allow any conditions for transition to take place.

The traditional COIN methodology consists of 4 main phases: Shape, Clear, Hold, Build. You conduct certain operations, shaping operations, to shape the battle-space to conditions favoring the counter-insurgent. Once that battle-space has been shaped, the counter-insurgent then clears the area, meaning they conduct operations aimed at separating the insurgents from the population to, in the worlds of David Galula, have the insurgents starving in the mountains. You must continue to hold this terrain, or there is no reason that the insurgents will not just simply return to those very villages you just cleared. While holding this terrain, the counter-insurgent addresses those grievances that gave rise to the insurgents by building local governance capacity, i.e. local security forces, basic infrastructure, basic services, etc…. In Afghanistan, since the bulk of each of these phases are being conducted by NATO, there is a additional, final phase which is the transition phase. This means that once that local governance elements have been established, responsibility is transitioned to the host nation to maintain as we transition into the FID role in that area.

All the arguments that we have been in Afghanistan for 10 years are a bit misguided in my opinion as we have only been fighting the insurgency with a COIN strategy since about 2009, and only with the needed troop levels since spring/summer 2010. So we have been fighting a COIN for months really, and have had great success so far. That is why the surge was so important to allow us to hold that terrain, build that local governance, and then transition responsibility. As we look to draw down over the next year, we must ensure it is at a pace at which we can ensure that delicate transition process goes smoothly. Too fast and we risk a resurgence of the insurgency, but too slow and we also risk the appearance of a occupation force no different than the Russians.

Yes there has probably been more literature written about COIN in the last 4 years than ever written, although it is not a new concept. There will certainly be much more over the next 10 years.

June 30 at 4:06pm

Jonathan Koomey

The logistical overhead (not to mention the safety issues) of transporting fuel in a war zone is something the military folks have been trying to address for some time. In our Winning the Oil Endgame book (http://www.oilendgame.com/) there is an anecdote about the assumption about fuel prices military designers used when deciding how much efficiency to build into vehicles. That price corresponded to fuel prices at the time of about $1/gallon of gasoline. But as this article correctly points out, the actual cost is many times (20-100x) that, depending on the vehicle and the situation. Amory Lovins and other members of the Defense Science Board were instrumental in changing that structural assumption, but it takes a long time for these changes to manifest across the entire military organization.

June 27 at 5:04pm

Prokaryotes

The cost will rise, last year temperature in iraq recorded 125.6 F, the new highest heat record. http://icons.wxug.com/hurr​icane/2010/heatrecords2010​.jpg

June 27 at 5:42pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

Just imagine how much the Nation’s school system could benefit from the $20 billion rather than cooling tents in Far-off-i-stan.

June 27 at 5:48pm

Slimeballcomics

Typical brain dead liberal. Do you honestly think that if we took that 20 billion from the troops that any liberal or progressive would put it to good use like EDUCATION? or paying off the debt? No no no… they would make up some new dumb government program that helps unions and piss the money away.

June 27 at 11:05pm

Patrick Linsley

Slimeballcomics,
You should drop the last six letters off your name.

June 27 at 11:26pm

Richard Brenne

Just to be clear, slimeball, you’re FOR spending $20 billion a year on AC in those countries? And you’re calling Leif with hundreds of perceptive CP comments (to your zero) brain dead?

June 28 at 4:38am

Leif Erik Knutsen

If we were not wasting so much money on wars fought for dubious, at best, motives perhaps we would not have a NATIONAL DEBT in the first place. You, slimaball, would do yourself a favor if you watch this short interview with Larry Wilkerson who was assistant to Colin Powell.

<http://www.brasschecktv.co​m/page/4189.html>

June 28 at 7:00am

Jonathan Bix

Typical ignorance from slimeball. I was thinking the same thing myself Leif

June 28 at 11:56am

Norman Murphy

We used to call people like you air heads.

June 28 at 12:00pm

Chuck Frans

Just imagine what the 165 billion may do back in the US, but get over it, we’ve been there and our boys are over there where it’s 109 or hotter in the night and 120 plus during the day. Easy for you to grip, being a sissy typing on your keyboard in your air conditioned comfort.. You wouldn’t last 10 mins supporting your country in the body armour anywhere in the middle east. What your lacking, is intelligence in the chair to keyboard interface

June 28 at 3:02pm

Joan Savage

The US Environmental Protection Agency 2011 budget is $9.2 billion, less than half that of the Afghanistan tent air-conditioning.

June 28 at 3:46pm

Joan Savage

Chuck, I’d like to see those men and women back home. And if they still want to deal with heat, we need more hotshot units to fight forest fires.
Do you see how long it is taking to control the record-setting Wallow Fire in AZ? Where are the personnel and equipment prepared for more of that kind of large-scale disaster?
Too often, the answer is overseas in a war that doesn’t make much sense.

June 28 at 4:38pm

James Meador

We had our A/C go out for 2 months here and we sweat our butts off cause the job still has to go on so that we can continue to give you the right to speak your mind freely and complain about how we do what we do. If you think A/C is not important or not worth the costs then turn your A/C completely off in your house for 2 weeks to show your support of our troops.

June 29 at 2:50pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

I do not believe that anyone has been denying your right to have AC. A careful read would show that all are concerned with the waste and collateral damage to your fellow comrades when other options should be and could be employed. War is waste on a grand scale and many question the very premiss of you having to be there in the first place. Beyond that could there be a more effective solution for the money spent. Could you be deployed in insulated structures. Could the tents even be painted with an insulating white paint. Just who is getting rich on the waste generated? Who is paying the price for inadequate solutions?

June 29 at 3:32pm

James Meador

Now YOU actually place this argument into a place for civil debate… but yes, there are people who question that… like the person below that stated that the soldiers are pampered. But back to the debate portion:

The tents were never intended to be a permanent solution but they are about efficient as a tent can get. The are colored the color they are for a reason. They are temporary structures. That is why we build things like B-Huts, C-Huts, and Hard Billets. Whoever it was that made the comment about the buried yurts, they maybe on to something with that. Or, IDK if you have ever been in an Afghan “Mud Hut” or not, but those things are very cool, and I don’t mean neat. The have very thick walls made from simple clay bricks and stucco. And they are often built into the side of mountains so they tap into the natural cooling abilities of the Earth.

I am completely in favor of seeing some power sources such as solar generators replace the fossil fuel generators and only use the fossil fuels as a back up, but the harsh conditions in Afghanistan questions whether this really a cost saving endeavor or if we will be spending more money on maintaining such systems. Wind energy is an option, especially considering the “120 days of wind”.

June 29 at 4:01pm

Marion Delgado

Out on a limb here but I took “slimeballcomics” comment as entirely ironic. I guess our Poe’s Law factor nowadays hovers around 1.

June 30 at 10:55am

José Manuel Assunção

and US still let they citizens die in USA if they don’t have health insurance… How much does it cost? It’s curious but not funny to conclude that USA is the country that spends more in death industry (armour) than life (healthcare)…

June 27 at 7:11pm

Patrick Linsley

Uh he probably lives in Lisbon, Portugal.

June 27 at 11:24pm

José Manuel Assunção

In my country as usual in Europe, no one dies or see it’s healthcare refused because an individual doesn’t have money to get hospitalized. It’s sad to see that a Nation let his people die or live with serious difficulties when spends huge ammont’s of money in death industrie ans it’s affairs (logistcs, air conditionings at its cabbana in desert…) when that money could be used to improve the life of it’s citizens.

June 28 at 6:01pm

James Meador

I love how you attempt to censor anyone who disagrees with you. Go ahead, flag this post too.

June 30 at 4:30pm

Patrick Linsley

I saw your comment here the other day, James, and am kind of stunned that it was flagged because all you said was ‘really so no one dies in your country?’ and I don’t see anything threatening or vulgar about it. So if they ban your comment mine will go too.

July 1 at 10:04pm

James Newberry

Fiscal collapse of the fossil and fissile empire:

$20 billion for ten years is $200 billion.

According to Nobelist Economist Joseph Stiglitz, the invasions of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $3 trillion total. The US nuclear weapons based cold war cost some $5.5 trillion by some reports.

We seem to be a dystopia built on waste, corruption and contamination. Now the discussion centers on potential insolvency. Think about those numbers, not to mention the “quadrillion dollar” climate debt. Cold War to Hot War to Hot Climate to Cold Shutdown ahead.

Soon we may be back to “Give us this day our daily bread.” All while our co-conspirators of invaded countries use billions of our cash as furniture, even as they blow up tankers of mined liquid hydrocarbon. Perfect profitable insanity, and ultimate insolvency.

June 27 at 10:22pm

Andy Green

Yes Jonathan, Logistical Overhead indeed. I co-authored a study on financing mobility energy efficiency investments in the US Federal Gov’t. Opportunities are vastly tilted to DoD activities. My research unearthed some eye popping stats by the Defense Science Board and others: 85% of the Air Force’s fuel is used to move 6% of its jet fuel by air tanker; Only 2 out of the top 10 Army battlefield fuel users are combat vehicles (#5 and #10), the others are transport logistics vehicles; 70% of the tonnage that the Army moves to a combat zone is fuel. And it goes on…

June 27 at 10:29pm

slimeballcomics

Surprise Surprise. It costs money to run an air conditioner in remote places. Tell me something I didn’t know! Would NPR or TP do a story about how much it costs to run air conditioners in all the Washington offices and federal buildings in Washington alone? No they wouldn’t do that story. I guess TP wants the troops to die of heat stroke but we can’t let the politicians die of heat stroke.

June 27 at 11:03pm

Patrick Linsley

1) Stop commenting.
2) Read article from fifth paragraph down.
3) Thank us for pointing all of this information out to you.

June 27 at 11:23pm

Jason Koh

The insurgents don’t seem to need air conditioning! What is this? A war or an office outing? No wonder they can’t put down the insurgency for any length of time.

June 28 at 5:31am

Alexandra Ho

Hee hee hee… very funny…

June 28 at 8:47pm

Jenny Porcher

12.2% of 2010 expenditures in Afghanistan was spent on air conditioning. Gross.

June 28 at 12:09pm

Megan McCormick

All this does is make me swear…

June 28 at 12:12pm

 

Steven Armour

What we have here is some very creative accounting interpretation and selective, out of context, editing, for which npr is so notoriously reknowned. Yes I am sure that if this fuel being brought in were just used for A/C, you might be able to come up with these numbers, for instance. But I seriously doubt that it is.

June 28 at 12:11pm

Teena Yocum-Brayen

When fuel is taken overseas to our military men and women, it can be used for many things…including Air Conditioning (something I take for granted in my own home), cooking (something I have to do to feed myself and family), vehicles (I drive one), and then they use it for other items. So you are right, when you said “creative accounting” and selective out of context editing. This is just plain crazy and why many of our families here that don’t know about what is truly going on overseas is reading and thinking that it is just plain WRONG…however, we take what they are getting for granted on our OWN dollar and out of our OWN pockets. Lets see the people who wrote and published this article do without the general comforts and see how they spell it out then!

June 28 at 2:41pm

Jenny Craddock

Like my grandfather says: Figures don’t lie but liars figure. Anyway, how can anyone begrudge soldiers A/C when they are dealing with heat casualties on a regular basis. I’m sure anyone who has been deployed would gladly trade the air conditioned office of NPR staff (also supported by federal money) for the extreme arid heat and 30-80 lbs of equipment they work in daily.

June 28 at 5:20pm

Patrick Linsley

No the problem is not giving our fighting men some relief from these god awful snake pits, the problem is that it is extraordinarily expensive to do that using fossil fuel technology. Did you read the part about that this far into this war and only NOW are they talking about energy efficiency? That’s dead soldiers because the war planners couldn’t think outside padded cushy offices in D.C. to think that the more fuel we use the more convoys of fuel we need which make an easy target for the insurgency. Now if we used solar panels in the desert and the barren wastes of Iraq and Afghanistan combined with an energy efficiency program (seriously they found that they could achieve a 92% reduction in energy usage) there would be less dead soldiers something we all can agree would be a GREAT thing to see. But, then again a bunch of gray haired generals don’t wanna talk about wussy green technology and plan this war with the thinking of the last one.

June 29 at 12:49am

James Meador

You know how I know you have never been deployed? Because our fuel trucks don’t have military drivers. When they get blown up for being soft targets, it is not soldiers that die. And also, the war planners sit in Kabul not D.C. And to counter your one decent argument about using solar energy, how about we take the fact that Afghanistan has one of the worlds largest potentials for hydro electricity instead of shipping in Silicon solar panels that are incredibly expensive and prolly wouldn’t last very long in the conditions here.

June 29 at 3:27pm

Patrick Linsley

Uh I never claimed to be in the military, but anyways doesn’t the U.S military guards fuel runs in Afghanistan? And by war planners I meant the Pentagon and the Unified Combatant Command, both of which are heavily based in the U.S. and around Washington D.C. who’s job it is to plan ahead for future combat which is moving rapidly away from needing massive armies with supply lines stretched across the globe to needing much more autonomous units with a much smaller footprint (you can ask one of my close friends Jon, about this, he served as a marine in Iraq, he seems to think this is a BIG problem). And to your last point they already ARE experimenting with solar and have for the last year in Afghanistan using small portable units they can fold up in the field. Just curious when you say hydro are you saying large scale damming or micro hydro?

June 30 at 11:33am

Gordon Wood

A sad and pathetic waste, misdirected use of stretched thin resources!

June 28 at 12:31pm

Roy LLanes Jr.

I wonder how many of you Morons could live, eat and sleep in an oven, while protecting the American Way of Life…….NOT TOO MANY!

June 28 at 12:40pm

Jo’hn Holland

There is nobody in Iraq or Afghanistan “protecting the American way of life”, they are protecting the profits of a small handful of the world’s richest criminals.

June 28 at 1:47pm

me

Facebook doesn’t let me see the comments anymore. I just get the first half of the first comment and the Facebook waiting bars… I’ve tried logging out, refreshing,…

June 28 at 1:29pm

Bob Wagner

Wow, and Halliburton is probably charging America well over $10 per gallon for the fuel in a country where gasoline is being sold for a penny per gallon to the locals. Pretty cool idea isn’t it?

June 28 at 1:36pm

Sid Bailey

I was going to comment but all I can do is shake my head in disgust.

June 28 at 1:38pm

Sid Bailey

oh wait I’ve got a comment. They could reduce the use of petroleum by not setting up opps in other countries. No wait that would mean no wars, no out post, no sticking our nose were it doesn’t belong in the first place. We can’t do that we’re Amerikan we go were the oil flows or at least where we can do the most harm so long as it fills the pockets of the few for the few and only the few.

June 28 at 1:50pm

Stephen Lyon

wow, war profiteering should be considered high treason!!! with severe sentences!!

June 28 at 7:10pm

Sid Bailey

That would be assume! Then we would have to elect all new lairs and profiteers cause there would literally be no one to govern .

June 28 at 7:42pm

Catherine Bailey

But instead, war profiteers are given the “Medal of Freedom”…unbelievable.

June 29 at 11:51am

James Meador

How many oil wells are in Afghanistan?

June 29 at 2:56pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

I believe Afghanistan is a corridor for a proposed pipeline which can be just as important as oil production itself.

June 30 at 9:15am

James Meador

More importantly than the actual pipeline is the strategic alliances that would come with it. Afghanistan is at the heart of Asia. The country/ideology that is closest to Afghanistan has strategic influences over the rest of Asia. That is why it was so important to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British, and the Soviets. That is why it is of strategic importance to the US as well. If jihadism controls Afghanistan, then they control all of Asia. They control India, they control Pakistan, they control all the former Soviet republics to the North, and they even control Iran. It is about way more than a pipeline. Afghanistan is about the security of the entire western world and that is why there are so many NATO nations involved.

June 30 at 4:14pm

Alan Gregory

I can remember, very well, the air conditioners blasting away during my three months of Air Force duty in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the U.S. winter of 1983 (operation ELF One, which stood for European Liaison Force – One). And we all drank a lot of bottled water, too. What was ELF One all about? Protecting the Saudi oil fields, what else.

June 28 at 1:58pm

Dubby Golub

Just think how much good we could do in the world if only we could find a way to lose the psychopaths empowered to make decisions in our stead.

June 28 at 2:15pm

Razel Remen

What???!!!!

June 28 at 5:59pm

Selene Johnson

You really need to see that movie the shock doctorine. Someone is being heavily compensated for this. There is also a book by the same name.

July 7 at 1:06pm

Tara Thralls

HM…maybe, just maybe, we, of Temperate Zone proclivities, don’t belong there, in a sweltering hot foreign land. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the desert!

Not to mention things like the illegality and utter pointlessness of this undefined, and ever changing mission. Why are we there again? WE ARE THERE TO KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON OUR GOOD FRIENDS, PAKISTAN!
Why won’t our politicians just admit that?

And, oh, yeah, as far as I understand it, we’re also there to prevent the Chinese from completing the Turkmenistan–China Natural Gas pipeline (oh, you haven’t heard about that yet? I can’t imagine why! You can Google it, it’s very interesting, and sheds light on why we are REALLY in Afghanistan. It makes me wonder, why can’t our politicians just call a spade a spade?)…

June 28 at 2:17pm

Mary Jo Featherstone

For real?

June 28 at 3:21pm

Shenita Cade Johnson

I’m speechless! The exploitation of the American tax dollar is endless.

June 28 at 6:32pm

Joe Reeves

1. glad the troops have some AC.
2. Logistical nightmares are not new: read “Wetting of the spears” the British empire was stymied by logistics trying to fight an insurgency against the Zulu nation. By the way they were using “green” technology, i.e. oxen.
3. wish we could save the money.
4. wish the war would end.
5. don’t short the troops.
6. Don’t short the troops.

June 28 at 3:38pm

Berkley Carter Mills

the troops are shorting us by going off to far off lands …like iraq and then after “”mission accomplish””exxon gets all the oil wells ;;;still f…s us ..still makes tons of profits;;still get tax dollars;;;and then hire only pakastans and indians to work the feild ;;while you warriors are sent home packin to live the rest of your lives on the streets of america;;;;i guess they dont call you guys JUG HEADS for nottin >>>what a country !!ps stop fighting for coporate am cause yr aint figgin fighttin for my freedoms;;;yahooooooo go patriot act !!!and SS homeland security !!and NSA w/wiretaps …………..this how the terriost have won …without any boots on usa soil !!

June 28 at 5:46pm

James Meador

When was the last time a military member ever got to authorize war? If my government class serves me correctly, it is the President, with the authorization of Congress that sends our military to war and those are all civilian jobs. Those are the people the we, the nation as a whole, voted to make those decisions on our behalf so that was the decision that we made as a nation.

June 30 at 4:22pm

Joan Savage

So many of the people posted to Afghanistan would have otherwise been the next generation of staff in fire and police departments, and/or in the National Guard units that are trained to handle natural disasters. That war is spending down the expertise, as well as the “blood and treasure.”

June 28 at 3:55pm

Jonathan Hopkin

There is a lot of crazy stuff going on at the moment, but that is the most shocking statistic I’ve heard for a good while.

June 28 at 4:42pm

Julie Lynch

OMFG

June 28 at 4:43pm

Alison Johnston

Kind of makes you want to shoot the republicans in the face over the defense budget…

July 3 at 4:09pm

Berkley Carter Mills

well that explains why our military is in no hurry to get the f…out;;i say pull the frigging plug on them there ac units,,, bet, ya the war will be over in 7 days ,,, gee and here they make you think they r sweattrin them things off..bet you they have midnight golf game going on too! another reason to bring the troops home!

June 28 at 5:34pm

Dorothy Barnett

There are some terrific examples of the military taking the lead in energy efficiency at http://www.youtube.com/use​r/Etheoperatorsmanual – check it out.

June 28 at 6:08pm

Cindy L Omailia

we should come home and let them beeee!

June 28 at 7:27pm

Thomas W. Rodd

I must say that this amazing statistic is truly disturbing. how many teachers would 20 BILLION pay for? iich bin verstumpft!

June 28 at 8:37pm

Elliot Werner

Yeah, but teachers aren’t “fighting the war against terrorism.”

June 28 at 8:45pm

Kevin L. Jeffords

only the terror in the schools

June 29 at 5:25am

Barbara H. Allen

Only the government could figure out how to spend 20 billion per year on air conditioning. And I’m a certified left-wing liberal making that statement!

June 29 at 9:02am

Leigh-Anne Hudson

Pampered soldiers! Something else to be proud of! (NOT)

June 28 at 11:18pm

lelandpalmer77

What a disgusting statistic. On top of the trillions we spent to secure supplies of oil for oil corporations, we’re spending billions on AC for the troops.

Our system of government (oligarchy) is dysfunctional.

June 29 at 7:56am

Janet McConnell

this is incredible. It’s time to end all wars and be constructive. I know we want our soldiers to be safe and comfortable, but it’s time to bring them home.

June 29 at 8:24am

Joan Savage

The AC is firstly for the electronics that could fail in heat. Think of how communications occur between ground troops and someone back stateside guiding a drone missile via satellite. These are mobile operations, hence a tent.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate war in general, and stupid wars exceptionally so.
But we should get the story about why the AC came to be seen as a necessity.

Foaming the tents and then leaving piles of plastic detritus around Afghanistan brings up images of detritus of other wars round the world, rusting hulks of ships, cement machine gun emplacements, etc.

And once more with feeling, the USEPA 2011 budget is a little over $9 billion, less than half the Afghan tent AC cost in 2010.

June 29 at 9:58am

Joan Savage

Foaming a command tent is like putting a bright uniform on an officer, it makes it an obvious preferred target. Hope somebody thinks of that, and winds the war down asap before more foolishness.

June 29 at 10:06am

Chuck Frans

Joan,

Your reply makes total sense, being a resident of Colorado for 23 yrs and seeing the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of prime forest land from man and nature created fires, I couldn’t agree more.

June 29 at 10:42am

Anthony Silvestri

My brother is in Afghanistan. His tent, which is meant to hold five people, holds 20. My mom just sent him a 12″ fan to help mitigate the 100 F+ temperatures. As my mom said “I didn’t even know you could air condition hell.”

June 29 at 11:37am

Jerry Lee Miller

If you an take Paradise and put up a parking lot, then, it stands to reason you can air condition hell!

June 29 at 2:10pm

David Metzger

New Report Delves into the Costs of War.
A team of researchers at Brown University has unveiled a study into the human and financial costs of US military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. http://www.newslook.com/vi​deos/326300-new-report-del​ves-into-the-costs-of-war?​autoplay=true

· June 29 at 1:43pm

Brian Smith

Wow, and a lot of US Citizens survive every day without air conditioning in their homes, you would think the military could do that too.

June 29 at 4:19pm

Erika Heins

this is so true to what this is about http://youtu.be/T_3P8yffAB​E.

June 29 at 9:48pm

Steve Ward

Wow!

June 29 at 10:21pm

Erika Heins

did you watch the video. http://youtu.be/T_3P8yffAB

June 29 at 10:24pm

Erika Heins

go past the first ad http://youtu.be/T_3P8yffAB​.

June 29 at 10:39pm

James Hatley

http://thinkprogress.org/r​omm/2011/06/24/253299/mast​ers-driven-by-global-warmi​ng-it-is-quite-possible-th​at-2010-was-the-most-extre​me-weather-year-globally-s​ince-1816/#

June 29 at 11:43pm

Dale Avery

Insanity! Why are we there again?

June 30 at 9:59am

Steve Davidson

So by extension, playing video games like Xbox in Iraq and Afghanistan, “when factoring in the manpower and logistics to deliver fuel”, costs 20.2 BILLION DOLLARS?

July 5 at 10:15am

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